Tuesday, March 17, 2015

"Bicycle-Friendly" South Main Street in Newark

Tuesday, March 17 was about as ordinary as one could expect riding into Newark via S. Main Street (formerly Elkton Road). But even with bike lanes, that still isn't enough for some motorists who simply detest those not driving being on 'their' road.

Not only is it sad beyond belief that bicyclists must endure this kind of harassment, it is also sad that the City and DelDOT planners saw fit to include 12' travel lanes in a 30 mph zone, in an up and coming "village-like" part of town. The result, as seen in the video above, is narrow bike lanes straddling long stretches of curb. Savvy bicyclists will ride near the white line, or even in the lane to avoid debris and keep a safe distance from curbs and pedestrians, as cars wiz by at induced speeds far exceeding the speed limit in most cases. For a very compelling argument on why 12' travel lanes are disastrous for safety, visit HERE.

A center turn lane further north - on the approach to Delaware Ave - is 16' wide. It comes at the expense of wider bike lanes, which is completely uncalled for in a 25 mph zone. One excuse offered by Wilmapco was that transit routes require 12' lanes, due to the possibility of sideswipe collisions with buses. No evidence has been found to substantiate this claim. In fact, it is not uncommon to find 10'-11' lanes in other U.S. cities that provide bus service.

Where wide center turn lanes are concerned, today's DelDOT engineers are beginning to realize this absurdity, as evidenced by the upcoming Route 72 widening project. Having them reduced to 11', and thus adding a couple extra feet of bike lane was a major victory. This would not have happened without the intervention of a few dedicated road bicycling advocates, and a project engineer that was willing to consider non-motorized safety.

Unfortunately, today's offender will probably strike again; next time against someone a lot more skittish and not wearing hearing protection. Someone that might be startled, swerve, and possibly fall into the lane next to them (or on the curb). The Tag number is 965952. I will forward a link to this blog post to the Newark Police, in the hopes that they will follow up and ticket this motorist. But I'm not holding my breath, given such widespread lack of enforcement for even the most basic traffic violations, never mind where a bicyclist or pedestrian is concerned.

Most drivers are too stupid to realize the speed that an infuriated bicyclist can travel, especially in an urban environment. The motorist's tag number was easily captured further up the road, along Delaware Avenue.

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