Newark: May 9, 2013
After a long wait, sharrows have finally landed on Main Street in Newark!
Wilmington installed the first sharrows in Delaware on its Market Street downtown in 2010 and Lewes installed some on Bay Avenue last summer. City of Newark Principal Planner (and chair of the Newark Bicycle Committee) Mike Fortner fought hard to make Newark the third place in Delaware to get sharrows. “I give a lot of credit to our City Manager, Carol Houck,” said Fortner, “who made using sharrows a top priority and directed the City to have sharrows installed on E. Main Street by Bike to Work Day. Also, both our Public Works & Water Resources Director and Assistant Director, Roy Simonson and Tom Coleman, who oversee all city streets, are both bicyclists and understand the value of having a transportation network that incorporates bicycles and pedestrians, as well as cars.”
Wilmington Area Planning Council Principal Planner Heather Dunigan applauded Newark for its initiative. “Sharrows on Main Street were identified as the top priority bicycle project in the 2011 Newark Transportation Plan and improving bicycling on Main Street has emerged as a major concern we’ve heard during the Newark Bicycle Plan development. Along with added bike racks and completion of the Pomeroy Trail, Newark is showing a true commitment to encouraging bicycling.”
The new sharrows on Main Street are showing up (not coincidentally!) just in time for Newark’s Bike to Work Day on Tuesday (May 14, 7:30–10 a.m. on the Trabant University Center patio at the corner of Delaware and South College Avenues). Speakers will be University President Patrick Harker, Delaware Secretary of Transportation Shailen Bhatt, Sen. David Sokola, Rep. Paul Baumbach, and Newark Mayor Vance Funk III.
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. 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. 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.
While most motor vehicle traffic on Main Street is, unfortunately, just through traffic without any local destination, the same is not true of bicyclists. If you see a bicyclist on Main Street, the odds are that she has a destination there, whether it’s a restaurant, store or bank. So encouraging even more bicycling on Main Street just makes good business sense.
Way to go, Newark!
James Wilson is the executive director of Bike Delaware.