If approved, the sharrows on Main Street will connect the Pomeroy Trail to New London Road.
The “sharrow” (or “shared lane”) pavement marking is a relatively recent pavement marking that was introduced a few years back into the manual of allowed pavement markings. Wilmington has installed these markings on its Market Street. If Newark’s application for federal funding is successful, Main Street in Newark will be the second place in Delaware to see sharrows.
First sharrows installed on Market Street in downtown Wilmington in 2010.
Main Street in Newark is a particularly compelling place for the use of this new pavement marking. Main Street and Delaware Street are a pair of one-way streets. But Main Street has parallel parking and lacks sufficient width for a bike lane. The sharrow assists bicyclists in this situation by indicating that bicyclists should “take the lane” (and avoid bicycling in the “door zone“). Delaware Avenue, meanwhile, sees large numbers of “wrong-way” bicyclists who are not using Main Street to travel west. Moreover, Main Street is the economic heart of Newark, a mixed land use regional center with retail and restaurants, high-density residential and offices. In 2011, Newark’s Main Street was selected for the prestigious “Great American Main Street Award” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
City of Newark Principal Planner (and chair of the Newark Bicycle Committee) Mike Fortner says that sharrows are a “highest priority” facility to help make Newark more bicycle friendly. “Municipal and state budgets have been very constrained right now, so this seemingly simple project has been stalled. The City is grateful to WILMAPCO for making grants like the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) available to municipalities to take advantage of. I think sharrows on E. Main Street would be an excellent use of TAP funds.”
James Wilson is the executive director of Bike Delaware.