Bike to Work
UD, Newark host bicycle commuters during special event at Trabant
8:09 a.m., May 16, 2013--“Leave the car in the driveway and get some good exercise” was the theme of Bike to Work Day, celebrated early Tuesday morning, May 14, on the patio of the Trabant University Center on the University of Delaware campus in Newark.
Drawing more than 50 enthusiasts, the event showcased National Bike Week (May 13-17) in the city, which is currently a League of American Bicyclists-designated Bicycle Friendly Community.
Partnership for change
Attendees enjoyed crisp temperatures and tasty refreshments while listening as UD President Patrick Harker and state and local officials endorsed efforts supporting the many benefits of alternative two-wheeled commuting.
“It’s great to see so many people out early enjoying the terrific spring weather,” Harker said. “We’re thrilled to partner with the city of Newark and the Newark Bicycle Committee in holding this fantastic event.”
Making Newark a “bike-able” city is an issue that resonates at the local, state and regional levels and is a good fit with UD’s green campus sustainability initiatives, Harker said.
“We want to challenge the car culture and create a campus where cars aren’t the dominant mode of transportation,” Haker said. “We also want to offer students, faculty and staff a bunch of really good options for getting around that are quick, convenient, low-cost and low-emission.”
Part of this effort, Harker noted, includes placing bike carriers on University shuttle buses and building three bike shelters this summer.
“This is a long-term systemic change we’re trying to bring about, and the bicycling community is a big part of it,” Harker said. “Thanks for coming out this morning and lending your voices and your bikes to a really important cause.”
Shailen Bhatt, Delaware secretary of transportation, noted that while the First State has a lot of great highways that make getting around fairly easy, the peak rush hour congestion issues are traceable to one person per car coming to and from work.
“We have spent $10 million on bicycle riding improvements, and we think this is an important investment,” Bhatt said. “Thank you for doing your part and helping us do ours.”
State Sen. David Sokola, who rode a bicycle to the event, said there are a lot of good reasons to bike, including fun, friends, fitness and furthering the works of the Delaware Statewide Trails and Pathways Initiative.
“We have several new laws in effect up and down the state,” Complementing the work we do in Dover, community groups like the Newark Bike Committee help to make these laws come to work and impact people in a very positive way.”
State Rep. Paul Baumbach also offered kudos for cooperation between the bicycling community and government at all levels in making available an increased number of healthy recreational activities.
“We all worked together on the Pomeroy and Newark Rail Trail,” Baumbach said. “It is cooperation like this that strengthens our communities.”
Newark Mayor Vance A. Funk III thanked Mark Deshon of the Newark Bicycle Committee for his work in putting the event together and for community and government support of alternative transportation initiatives.
“The Pomeroy Trail is a very special place, and we couldn’t have done it without the state and federal support,” Funk said. “More and more people are riding bikes and helping get cars off the road. Thank you all and enjoy your rides.”
The Newark Bicycle Friendly Community Leadership Award, “for making Newark a more bicycle friendly place by establishing the Newark Bike Project,” was given to UD graduate student Niki Suto and was accepted on her behalf by Angela Cunneely of the Newark Bike Project.
“We are located at 7 South Main Street, and one of the things we try to do is connect people to our many community activities,” Cunneely said. “Our organization is entirely staffed by volunteers and we also have a free bike program for people who need bikes for transportation”
Karen Rosenberg, professor and chair of UD’s Department of Anthropology, said her involvement began with getting a ticket for fastening her bike to a tree on Main Street.
“I didn’t have to pay anything, it was just a warning and a suggestion that I join the Newark Bike Committee, so I did,” Rosenberg said. “Bike to Work Day is a great way to encourage others and let them know what we are trying to do.”
Anthony Aglio, bicycle coordinator with the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), said that “promoting bicycling in the state has several health benefits, including fighting the obesity epidemic.”
Michael Woodin, a manager of financial services in Facilities and Auxiliary Services, said, “I think this is great. It gets people thinking about leaving the car in the garage.”
Event supporters included WILMAPCO and DelDOT, and sponsors included Wooden Wheels, The Ski Bum, Home Grown Cafe, Fusion Fitness Center, Bing’s Bakery, Delaware Running Company, Newark Natural Foods Co-Op and Bike Line.
Article by Jerry Rhodes
Photos by Doug Baker