Pedal push: Senator Bikeway to go into motion

The city of Dover will be posting “No Parking” signs on the north side of West Division Street from Weston Drive to North West Street, as well as on the west side of North West Street to Cecil Street, by the middle of February to get ready for the new Senator Bikeway. (Submitted image)

DOVER — The Senator Bikeway, an estimated 3.5-mile route for bicyclists that will eventually stretch from Dover High School in west Dover all the way to U.S. 13 by Dunkin Donuts, is showing signs of kicking into high gear in 2019.

The city of Dover, in conjunction with the Delaware Department of Transportation, recently sent out a letter to affected downtown business owners and residents “to inform the public about the proposed pedestrian and bicycle improvements on West Division Street and North West Street from Weston Drive to Cecil Street.”

The city will be posting “No Parking” signs on the north side of West Division Street from Weston Drive to North West Street, as well as on the west side of North West Street to Cecil Street, by the middle of February.

Getting rid of those on-street parking spaces will allow the Senator Bikeway – a transportation alternatives project – to make the following proposed improvements when work begins in the spring:

• Replace existing deteriorated concrete sidewalk with a 5-foot wide proposed concrete sidewalk along the north side of W. Division Street and the west side of N. West Street, from Weston Drive to Fulton Street.

• Allow for the installation of a new two-way, on-street, protected bike lane within the existing shoulder on the north side of West Division Street and the west side of North West Street, from Weston Drive to Cecil Street.

• Replace existing curb with new curb and gutter where required within the project limits.

• Upgrade existing curb ramps to meet current Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

Jonathan Hermes, an associate vice president with Century Engineering, said at an earlier public meeting regarding the Senator Bikeway that he knows parking is always a concern, especially when it comes closer to the downtown Dover area.

“We know that parking’s always a concern and there’s a lot of off-street parking in that area and there’s still the parking on the south (side of the) street, so we felt there was still enough parking in the area, but we wanted to make sure that we (heard) from the community first,” he said.

Mr. Hermes said that Dover residents should be excited about the Senator Bikeway, a project that is being put into place by DelDOT and the Dover/Kent County Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The estimated $3.5-million project gets its name from the fact that it will take bicyclists and walkers past three schools in the Capital School District.

Mr. Hermes said that people should be patient, as putting everything in place can make for a long process.

“A lot of it depends on the funding and the timing,” Mr. Hermes said. “The project starts at Dover High School and runs all the way to (U.S.) 13. There are some spots where we’re going to have to get some easements from property owners and talk to them.

“We’re going to be going up around [Central Middle School] and into Silver Lake Park, so some of those connections are going to take a long time. DelDOT is committed to multiple phases, it’s just how much the funding will allow at each time.”

In the city of Dover’s preliminary draft for its 2019 Comprehensive Plan, it reiterates a commitment for alternative transportation that it also had in its’ 2008 Comprehensive Plan.

Proposed recommendations in the 2019 Comprehensive Plan draft include:

• Update and Implement the Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plans.

• Review the bicycle and pedestrian transportation network to identify gaps and important segments needed to provide a continuous network. Prioritize connectivity between neighborhoods and points of interest, like schools, neighborhood centers and healthcare facilities.

• Consider implementing the proposed bicycle network for the downtown area included in the Plan4Health guidance document.

• Develop an implementation plan to complete this network. The construction of the missing sidewalk/bike path segments can be accomplished utilizing a combination of private development activities, City funding through the CIP, and funding available through state and federal sources.

• Develop a maintenance plan for the network that builds on the Public Works Department’s ADA Transition Plan, DelDOT repair schedules and other current efforts.

• Ensure vital pedestrian and bicycle amenities such as seating, street lighting, street crossings and bicycle parking are addressed in the plan.

Dover’s 2008 Comprehensive Plan noted that “the City of Dover is committed to working with the Dover/Kent County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) to reduce the air quality impact of auto emissions through sound land use planning, enhancing the bicycle and pedestrian network in Dover, and encouraging increased use of public transit.”

The 2019 Comprehensive Plan that is currently being drafted by the city’s Planning Department appears to follow along those same lines, which makes projects such as the Senator Bikeway extremely attractive for the benefits it could have for health, traffic and the environment.

The concept for the Senator Bikeway arose from the need for a centrally placed east-west bike route through Dover that is low-stress and safe for riders of all ages and abilities.

Studies have shown it is the No. 1 identified bicycling need in the community.

Cyclists are hoping it follows in the footsteps of safer bicycle and pedestrian trails throughout Dover, such as the Capital City Trail and the bike path along the POW/MIA Parkway, among others.

Dover Mayor Robin R. Christiansen said bicycling is not only healthy for the riders themselves, but also for the environment.

“In many communities we see people wanting to use bicycling and walking as both a form of recreation and everyday transportation. Dover is no different,” Mayor Christiansen said. “Bicycling offers low-cost mobility for those who do not have access to automobiles, which also includes school-age children.

“It will be a great way to reiterate the importance of a healthy lifestyle and combine that with the safety aspect of using the path versus the street, we are hoping it will entice families to utilize the paths together.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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