Bike group seeks traffic circles on Orchard Road
A bike advocacy group in Newark thinks the city should install traffic circles at two intersections on Orchard Road to slow down cars and give cyclists a safer route to travel.
On Tuesday, Susan Grasso and Mark Deshon of BikeNewark presented their idea to the city’s traffic committee, which is comprised of city officials, Newark police officers, a representative from WILMAPCO and a resident.
While the committee has no decision-making power, it is often tasked with weighing in on proposed projects and making recommendations to city council.
Grasso and Deshon told the committee they would like to see two traffic circles, also called roundabouts, at the intersections of Sunset and Orchard Road and at Winslow and Orchard Road. At each of these road junctions, Grasso said, traffic would move in one direction around a central island, with the goal to slow traffic through the neighborhood and get cyclists off busy South College Avenue.
“Give them their own route that’s safe and comfortable and convenient,” said Grasso, an avid cyclist who lives on Orchard Road.
Deshon added that BikeNewark is trying to create a low-stress bike network in the city.
“For us, it’s part of a larger concept,” he said.
In order to gauge public opinion and functionality, Grasso suggested constructing a pop-up traffic circle on Orchard Road that would run for about a week, giving motorists, pedestrians, cyclists and city officials the ability to test out the design be- fore possibly moving forward with a more permanent installation.
Deputy Public Works Director Tim Fliasky said the city could use old spare tires to create the makeshift roundabout and install temporary signage during the pop-up event. He added that volunteers could even paint the tires different colors and plant flowers to make them more aesthetically pleasing.
“It will fit. It will work, from engineering perspective,” Filasky said.
Newark Police Lt. Dennis Aniunas, however, wasn’t so sure. He said he is concerned about cars crashing into the tires and people moving them around, creating a dangerous situation for both drivers and cyclists.
“The temporary one bothers me more than a permanent solution,” he said.
Filasky assured Aniunas the tires wouldn’t just be stacked on top of one another, they would be properly secured.
The committee decided to table a formal recommendation to council pending more information, but gave Grasso and Deshon the verbal goahead to start engaging the immediate neighbors and eventually come back with more details regarding design and dates for a possible pop-up event.
“It will be really fun to engage the community in helping to design it,” Grasso said.
BikeNewark is proposing a traffic circle at this intersection of Winslow and Orchard Road, and also where Orchard Road meets Sunset Road.