June 2016

In this issue...

Bike Month Recap
Bike to Work: Tips for Your First Commute
Get Involved: NBC Education and Encouragement Subcommittee
Scene Around Town
June/July Calendar

Bike Month Recap

May was a crazy, busy month, but Newark's celebration of Bike Month was a great success!  Read more for details and a few snapshots.  Thank you to all who participated!

Second Annual Mayor’s Fun Ride

The 2016 Mayor's Fun Ride was a great day for bicycling in Newark. Taking place on April 30, the event had 125 people participate in the rides and raised over $12,000 for bicycling initiatives in Newark. Two rides were held - a 2.5-mile “Family Fun Ride” and a scenic 8.5-mile “Newark Loop Fun Ride.” Additionally, the event featured live music, a children's helmet decorating table, free helmets and basic bike tune-ups, a bike skills course and information on bicycle safety. The Mayor's Fun Ride is a non-timed, non-race event that showcases local bicycling as a great way to get around Newark, promotes physical activity and helps spread the word about bicycle safety and rules of the road.

Bike to School Day

On May 10, parents and students participated in Downes Elementary School First Annual Bike to School Day in celebration of Bike Month.  Organized by the Newark Bicycle Committee and the Wilmapco Safe Routes to School Program, the purpose of the event was to encourage physical activity, offer the opportunity for students and parents to practice bicycle and pedestrian safety skills; and reduce pollution, traffic congestion, and speeding near the school.  Mayor Polly Sierer greeted parents and students with fun giveaway items and read a Proclamation of Bike and Walk to School Day over the school’s PA.  The well-attended event kicked off the school’s Biking Tuesday program, where students are encouraged to bike (and walk) to school.  This effort builds on the established Walking Wednesdays program, aimed at lowering childhood obesity rates and improving the transportation and natural environment conditions around the school. For more information, visit or

Bike Basics in a Minute!

On May 12, the NBC in collaboration with UD, DelDOT, the Newark Bike Project, White Clay Bicycle Club and Newark Police set up posters, a free bike tune-up stand, bike skills course and a lot more in front of Memorial Hall to give UD students an opportunity to learn about riding safely around campus and town.  This event engaged over 100 students, and we plan to build on this first experience to offer similar opportunities to inform students about safe biking practices.  

Bike to Work Day

The weather was beautiful on the morning of May 20, as close to 100 participants gathered at Mentors’ Circle on the University of Delaware campus for Newark’s observance of National Bike to Work Day. Six organized “bike trains” arrived around 7:30 a.m. from radial points in Newark. Just after 8:00 a.m., a large contingent from Bloom Energy arrived. Others had cycled in separately, and all enjoyed the good food provided by area businesses and networking with other commuters.

Newark Bicycle Committee chair Mark Deshon thanked the individuals, partner organizations, and sponsors for helping the committee put on this event. He especially recognized committee member Mike Fortner for his role as event coordinator for the third straight year.

Deshon then handed over the mic to the morning’s speakers. 

UD Provost Domenico Grasso welcomed all on behalf of UD—the host institution—and gave his own spin on bicycling, citing his wife, committee member Susan Hull Grasso, for being the “real” cyclist in their family. Deshon echoed this sentiment and thanked him for bringing Susan down here from Vermont and into such an active role on our committee.

City Manager Carol Houck spoke of the important transportation projects in the works within the city, including a two-way protected lane for most of the length of Delaware Avenue and the task force of stakeholders that is currently working with the city to help recommend design revisions to DelDOT in preparation for its repaving of the entire Cleveland Avenue corridor. She also mentioned her desire to see the city move from a “bronze” level Bicycle Friendly Community designation by the League of American Bicyclists to “silver.”

State Sen. Dave Sokola, a serious cyclist in his own right, and State Rep. Paul Baumbach, a recreational cyclist and staunch supporter, each said a few words on behalf of the groups that are together making a difference for bicycling in Newark.

Deshon was then joined at the podium by Fortner, who announced the winner of this year’s Bicycle-Friendly Leader Award—Charlie Emerson, who recently retired as the head of the City of Newark Department of Parks & Recreation. Emerson, during his tenure, was primarily responsible for the creation of the popular multi-use Hall and Pomeroy trails, among other project accomplishments. Emerson thanked everyone for the honor.

The main proceedings ended with eight random giveaways and a group photo with more than 80 participants on the steps of Hullihen Hall before most everyone headed off to work—by bike. 

Bike to Work:
Tips for Your First Commute 

On your drive into work, have you ever noticed a cyclist obviously commuting and envied that person? Have you thought it would be cool to ride your bike to work, or home from the office? Perhaps it's crossed your mind that bike commuting not only helps the environment and saves gas money; but it could help you stay fit, healthy and burn a few extra calories.

Despite some worthy reasons to ride your bike to work, there never seems to be a good time to start. So why not start now? Lots of people commute on their bicycles, why not you?

Even if you commute only a handful of times, it's better than none at all. To help you get rolling, here are 12 tips for commuting on your bike:

1. Begin with an achievable distance.
If you live only a few miles from work, it is conceivable that you can commute both ways on the first day. If you live several miles from work, and the commute will take you some 45 to 60 minutes or more, consider hitching a ride with a co-worker to get to the office, then ride home. Make the distance doable for you; don't worry about what other people might be doing.  

2. Start with an achievable frequency.
Sure it sounds good that you're turning over a new leaf and you have grand plans to commute to and from work every day, but is that goal achievable immediately? Begin by setting a goal to commute one to three times per week. After you can consistently achieve success, add more commuting segments or days.

3. Wear a helmet.
In the unlikely case of an accident, you want to protect your head and all those great ideas.

4. Wear clothing that can easily be seen by motorists.
If you are commuting in early morning or late evening hours, wear reflective gear and put a flashing tail light on your bike. For daylight commuting, wear bright colors that can easily be seen by motorists.

5. Don't make a big deal out of special clothes and gear.
Depending on the distance of your commute, you might be able to commute in your work clothes. Some commutes are workouts and other commutes are more practical in nature.

Bike commuting is commonplace in many parts of Europe and a few places in the US, where men and women ride to work in business attire with a brief case strapped to the rear rack.

6. Consider cycling shorts.
If your commute is longer than 20 or 30 minutes, you will probably be more comfortable in cycling shorts. Cycling shorts eliminate that intersection of seams that meet right where you are putting your torso on the bike seat. Pressure and friction can make this area really uncomfortable when cycling longer distances. Cycling shorts can significantly improve your comfort.

7. Do a dry run on the weekend.
If you're nervous about how much time it will take you to get to work, do a dry run on the weekend. Ride at an easy pace, knowing that if you were in a bind for time, you could pick up the pace.

8. Find routes with minimal traffic.
It may lengthen your commute some, but finding roads that aren't as busy might be worth your time. Check out any bike paths in the area to see if they would be a good choice.

9. Know how to change a flat.  
If you don't already know how to do it, learn how to change a flat tire. Consider taking a maintenance class at the Newark Bike Project.

10. Carry a cell phone and call for help if you have significant mechanical trouble.
If you have time to change a flat tire or deal with other mechanical issues on the way into work, fine. If you're pinched for time, call someone to give you a lift. There's a good chance you're on the road well before anyone else, so it's likely that a co-worker will come your way.

11. Take your clothes to work the day before you commute.
If you plan to change from cycling clothes to work clothes when you commute, bring your clothes to work the day before your ride if they won't easily fit into your backpack or panniers.

12. Strategize your clean up time before work.
When commuting distances are significant, you will likely want to clean up before sitting next to coworkers. Some commuters are lucky enough to have a shower at the office. If that's the case, use a chamois towel (popular among swimmers) to dry off, rather than lugging around a bath towel.

If you don't have a shower, you can use a wash cloth and soap in the restroom to give yourself a "spit bath". Some commuters will shower the night before the ride into work and not wash their hair at work; but they will at least clean off their body with a moist towelette.  Of course, if your ride is a short one, you may not need to do   anything.

Don't worry about setting up the perfect routine your first time out.  You'll find that the more you ride, the more you will learn how to tweak your commute to best serve your needs.  Even hard-core commuters started somewhere. Commuters who bike to work regularly do it because the personal rewards are so great. 

If you have other questions about how you can begin to use your bicycle to commute to work, please send them to  Mark DeshonHappy riding!


Get Involved:
NBC Education and Encouragement Subcommittee 

Looking to get more engaged with the Newark Bicycle Committee?  We could use your help on our new Education and Encouragement Subcommittee, where we work in a small group to plan events and activities that inform our community about the rights and responsibilities of bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists. We also explore ways in which we can help normalize biking as an everyday mode of transportation.  If you're interested in learning more about how you can get involved, please contact Susan Grasso.

Scene Around Town

On April 12, Newtown, Conn., riders from Team 26 visited Newark on their trek from Newtown to Washington, D.C., to meet with our nation's legislators about gun control. Joining them in the photo, taken at the University of Delaware's Perkins Student Center, were Carol Ireland (far left), Gov. Jack Markell (center, holding Team 26 shirt), State Sen. David Sokola (in yellow), Newark Mayor Polly Sierer, and State Rep. Paul Baumbach (in optic yellow).

June/July Calendar

June 16  – Newark Bicycle Committee Meeting, WILMAPCO, 4 p.m.
June 17 – Education and Encouragement Subcommittee Meeting, WILMAPCO, 10 a.m. 
July 21  – Newark Bicycle Committee Meeting, WILMAPCO, 4 p.m.
The Newark Bicycle Committee is a partnership of interested cyclists and agencies working to improve bicycling in Newark, Delaware.

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