Photographs by Kirk Smith
Brandon Robinson and Chris Denney of Wooden Wheels hit the one-mile paved trail at the Newark Reservoir.
Newark is picking up speed as a destination for cyclists and is a favorite with off-road bikers, as well as folks who prefer a self-propelled, pollution-free method of transportation. “On any given weekend, you see cars with out-of-state plates with a couple of muddy bikes on top,” says Ricky Nietubicz, administrator of the Downtown Newark Partnership (DNP) and assistant planning and development director. “If you are serious about biking, Newark is the place to be.”
He rides his bike to work about 90 percent of the time. Nietubicz has discovered there are benefits to leaving the car in the garage. “You don’t have to pay for gas,” he says. “Plus there is a more heightened awareness of bicycling in Newark than in most other places.” Newark has been designated a bronze level community by the League of American Bicyclists. “Young people want to live in cities rather than suburbs, and they appreciate the ability to get around by bike rather than driving a car,” says Mark Deshon, chairman of the Newark Bicycle Committee.
In town, there are many paved bike trails, including two of the most heavily used trails in the state. The James Hall Trail runs east and west for 1.67 miles near the Amtrak line and connects several city parks, starting in the Devon neighborhood and ending at College Square Shopping Center. The Pomeroy and Newark Rail Trail runs north and south for 1.6 miles, crossing Delaware Avenue and Main Street, all the way to White Clay Creek State Park. Both trails are paved and lighted for 24-hour use.
Extensive bike trails in White Clay Creek State Park are a regional attraction, Deshon notes. White Clay hopes to become an International Mountain Biking Association-designated ride center. “We’re in a unique geographic area, right on the edge of the Piedmont, so we have both rolling hills and flat areas—and White Clay Creek Park is practically in our backyard,” he says. “That varied terrain makes it a favorite with both bikers and hikers.”
Newark is rich with other outdoor opportunities, says Charlie Emerson, director of parks and recreation. There are 33 parks in the city offering a variety of amenities, including courts for basketball, tennis and street hockey, ball fields and two skateboard parks. There’s also a one-mile paved surface surrounding the reservoir that is ideal for walkers. “We are very excited about our park system,” he says. “You will find parks tucked in neighborhoods throughout our city so everyone will have access to a park.”