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Volunteers sought to test Delaware Avenue cycle track prototype

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Cycle track

A rendering shows what the Delaware Avenue cycle track prototype will look like on July 14.

Officials are looking for volunteers to help test out a model of the cycle track long planned for Delaware Avenue.

The city and the Delaware Department of Transportation will set up the temporary track on July 14 from 2 to 3 p.m. as a way to gauge if the proposed width successfully accommodates cyclists.

“Step one is seeing the level of comfort cyclists have with the width of the bike lanes,” city spokesman Ricky Nietubicz said.

A cycle track is a protected, two-way bike lane within the roadway and is physically separated from motor vehicle traffic by a median or other barrier. It is a key component of the Newark Bicycle Plan, which was adopted by city council last year.

Such a feature would create a safe, two-way route through the city. Legally, cyclists can only travel east on Delaware Avenue, but many go the wrong way, leading to dangerous conditions.

If built, it will be the first cycle track in Delaware.

Nietubicz said the cycle track will be slightly narrower than some tracks in other parts of the country due to various obstacles.

“We’re confident it will work, but we’re interested in testing it before spending money on engineering,” he said.

The test will be conducted in front of the University of Delaware Green, between South College Avenue and Academy Street, the narrowest part of Delaware Avenue.

“If it works there, it will work everywhere else,” Nietubicz said.

In order to accommodate the cycle track, both traffic lanes will be narrowed slightly. Each of the two cycle lanes will be four feet wide, and the track will be separated from traffic by a two-foot buffer. During the test, the barrier will consist of temporary bollards, but the permanent barrier will likely be a curb, at least in some areas.

The model track will be set up on the right side of the road, but officials are still deciding which side the permanent track will be built on.

Earlier this year, Kirsten Jones, a student in UD’s Institute for Public Administration, studied cycle tracks at the request of the city’s planning department and found that it would be best to build it on the left side of the road, rather than the right side where most bike lanes are. Doing so would avoid many of the common obstacles, such as traffic turning right, parked cars and buses pulling over to pick up passengers. It would also mean that the cyclists closest to traffic would be going the same direction as the cars, which is safer.

Nietubicz said he is hoping for 15 to 20 people willing to help try out the track on July 14, noting that officials need a mix of experienced cyclists and casual riders. Anyone interested can just show up during the specified time.

If all goes as planned, construction on a permanent track could start next summer.

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