22 October 2009

Early October, White Clay Creek State Park

White Clay Creek State Park is a gem of northern Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania. Consisting of multiple areas with ample trails and minimal roads, it is wonderful for hiking year-round. White Clay Creek is surprisingly poorly patronized, which allows one to peacefully enjoy the trails and nature with minimal human interaction.

My favorite bonus of the park is a hidden landmark: the post that marks the start of the marking of the Mason-Dixon line.

Photos herein are in the Possum Hill section (the part I most commonly frequent) and along White Clay Creek in the Preserve section in Pennsylvania (southeast from London Tract Road), taken over three days in early October.

30 September 2009

Jaywalking is necessary in Newark

Next crosswalk: go to the traffic light in the distance, cross Delaware Avenue, and you'll find it. Then cross back over Delaware Ave and walk all the way back. The jaywalking pedestrian here is acting rationally and responsibly (crossing in the gaps between cars). (Click on photo to expand)

The recent crackdown on jaywalking in Newark (articles News-Journal, UD Review) seems to be the latest example of using the police to enhance revenue for the city. Ticketing 44 students in a 3-hour period (at $50 per person) equals $2200, quite a tidy sum for the city. The jaywalking crackdown is a particularly galling example of selective enforcement, however. To live in Newark, you have to jaywalk. Newark is severely lacking in crosswalks throughout the city, even on the most heavily traveled pedestrian corridors.

In New York City, there are two crosswalks every city block (one crosswalk every 44 yards). On Main Street in Newark, there is one crosswalk every two NYC city blocks (about one crosswalk every 160 yards). A given avenue in NYC has four times the frequency of crosswalks as on Main Street. Are drivers on Main Street who cheer on the pedestrian ticketing ready for four times as many crosswalks?

But Main Street, though not pedestrian heaven, is easily the best street in Newark for crosswalks. Consider the following:

• North College Ave: no crosswalks between Main St and Cleveland (325 yards, with two major parking lots and the gym lining the N College).
• Delaware Avenue: no crosswalks between the Green and Academy (240 yards); 190 yards to next crosswalk (Haines), 185 yards to the subsequent crosswalk (S Chapel)
• South Chapel (photo above): no crosswalks between the north side of Delaware Ave and Lovett (350 yards, including the entirety of University Courtyards Apartments, with no crosswalks even on the south side of Delaware Ave, nor at Continental). There is no crosswalk throughout the entire length of a very major apartment complex! And south of Lovett, there are no more crosswalks on South Chapel, including at the busy intersection with Wyoming Avenue (with parking lots all around) (photo at end) and at Park Ave.
• North Chapel: no crosswalks between the north side of Cleveland and Main Street
• Academy Street: no crosswalks between Delaware and Lovett; no crosswalks between Lovett and Perkins (despite two major parking lots in the interim space); no crosswalks between Perkins and Park, despite a major parking garage
• Lovett: no crosswalks between Chapel and Academy
• Cleveland Avenue: one crosswalk between North College and Chapel (1/2 mile); no crosswalk on south side at North Chapel
• Elkton Road: too lacking in crosswalks to fully enumerate (I avoid eating on Elkton Rd, despite its relative proximity and several good choices, because of the challenges crossing Elkton, and a well-founded fear of death). When running on Elkton (which I do often) jaywalking is the only reasonable way to cross the road. Indeed, the photo in the Review article shows jaywalking on Elkton Road in a location completely lacking in crosswalks.

Even on Main Street, you have the following distances:
• 200 yards to Academy from the next westernmost crosswalk; no crosswalk on Main at the west side of the intersection (at Grassroots)
• 80 yards from Academy to Center (the shortest measured distance on Main Street, which is still only semi-reasonable)
• 160 yards from Center to Choate (skipping Haines, where there are popular pedestrian stops including Starbucks)
• No crosswalk to the eastern entrance to the Newark Shopping Center (!), with 216 yards between crosswalks at the western entrance to Newark Shoping Center and at Tyre.
(and many others in 100-160 yard distances, again compared to 44 yards on average in NYC)

The situation is exacerbated by the number of intersections where crosswalks are not present on both sides of the street (e.g. Main Street at Chapel; Chapel at Delaware; Main St at Academy). The absence of a crosswalk means that to go from Santa Fe Cafe to Sinclair Cafe across the street, you need to cross Chapel, cross Main, and then cross Chapel again (three light cycles), or walk a block to Choate, cross Main, and then walk a block back. See below for more examples. Newark is a town designed for drivers, not pedestrians, yet the pedestrians are bearing the wrath of police?

Scenario 1: you want to go from the student corridor on Cleveland (south side) to the Newark Shopping Center to see a movie. To avoid jaywalking, you must either (a) cross Cleveland, cross Papermill, cross Margaret, and then cross Cleveland again to get on the east side of Chapel; or (b) walk to Main, cross North Chapel, and then walk all the way back. Clearly, neither of these is reasonable, and the only rational approach is to jaywalk at a gap in traffic, south of the railroad tracks.

Scenario 2: you want to go from the entrance of lot 19 (on N College by the tracks) to the gym. You can walk to Cleveland, cross, and then walk back; or you can walk to Main, wait for the light, and then walk all the way back. Clearly neither scenario is reasonable, and the only rational approach is to jaywalk.

Scenario 3: you want to walk from the general services building (Wyoming at S Chapel) to Perkins (or to the parking lot across the street). Your only option is to walk all the way up to Lovett (crosswalk in top photo), cross the street, and then walk all the way back.

South Chapel at Wyoming. Parking lots are on two of the corners of this intersection, sidewalks are on all sides - and there is no crosswalk over South Chapel!

All pedestrians have a fear of death driving their decisions to cross the street. Fear of death is a sufficient incentive to keep pedestrians from stepping out in front of traffic. Drivers have no such fear. A near-collision with drivers when walking in a crosswalk is a constant fact of life for Newark pedestrians. Cars kill pedestrians; pedestrians do not kill the driver of a car. So where should resources be directed?

The key for all is courtesy and respect. Responsible jaywalking is clearly required for daily life in Newark, given the relative paucity of crosswalks (even on Main Street). Crossing between gaps in traffic is not a crime, it's the most reasonable decision, and it's in the best interests of pedestrians and of traffic flow. Neither drivers nor pedestrians want additional light-controlled crosswalks. The only alternative approach permitting responsible jaywalking is to add many, many, many more crosswalks to Newark streets.

Ticketing jaywalkers, when jaywalking is necessary to life in Newark, is pure hypocrisy.

10 June 2009

Newark Nite 2009 photos

It was a beautiul Saturday evening for 2009 Newark Nite. Featuring a great crowd

Food (more non-fatty options every year!). Here: Indonesian Satay House (tasty $5 satay and noodles combo)

Music (here: Highway 61. Unfortunately, there were only 2 music stages this year - boo! More music!)

Classic cars

More music

Old music being heard as new music by young ears

And people taking off, having fun into the night.

(Note: any photo may be enlarged by clicking on it.)

05 June 2009

Not understanding the concept

Seriously, City of Newark? You don't understand even the basics of law? That there's a difference between public and private? I guess that explains a lot of the stupidity in this town...

29 April 2009

Possible swine flu at the University of Delaware: the response

University text messages/phone calls (including to emergency contact people!) last night alerted us to four UD students with "probable" swine flu. (Message text: "4 UD students have been identified with influenza that meets probable definitions for swine flu.") Today the university is (thankfully) open, with students around in typical numbers. That encourages me that there is not widespread panic (i.e. not too many students are holed up in their rooms). But it's definitely not business as usual. For example, the gym is closed, having been converted into a temporary health care center (photo above).

Whether the absence of panic is true outside of the student base is another issue. I would be interested to see the effects on restaurant/business receipts on Main St over the next few days (or at least until we know something more definitive - they are still not confirmed cases of swine flu, just suspected). However, I skipped getting my lunch pizza at Peace today out of precaution - too many hands touching other hands that will touch my food. Sushi at the Trabant student center? Not a problem. The sushi handlers always wear gloves (and don't touch money anyway). The cashiers were also doing their part to keep hand-to-hand contact down:

25 January 2009

Winter scenes in Newark

Nothing new to report (same police and city council stupidity as always), so a positive post instead. Winter scenes around Newark.

16 September 2008

Muggings in Newark

The Review today has a great cover story on muggings and crime in Newark. (The cover places locations of muggings in the last month on a Newark map - it is scary. Sadly, I couldn't find the image on the Review's web site.)

The article (plus support articles and editorial) covers the brutal crimes (six armed robberies in the immediate campus vicinity within a month), and quotes Newark PD and University DPS officials. To summarize their thoughts.

Newark PD: "This is normal, the crime is no higher than any other year. There is nothing we can do about it."

University DPS: "Students shouldn't walk alone at night. Students shouldn't drink. Stay home at night and you'll be safe."

Ummm, no. Sorry. Newark is a small city. Newark ABSOLUTELY should be safe. I should be able to walk around at night (or go running) on major streets and not worry about muggings. I should be able to work late at the university and walk to my car without worrying about getting mugged. Students should be able to go to the bars and walk home without having a gun thrust in their faces. Sadly, that world is not the world of Newark in 2008.

And what are the Newark Police doing about the crime in Newark?

Patrolling Main Street in the middle of the day in unmarked cars. Yep, they're trying really hard to do something about the muggings.

17 August 2008

Followup on enforcement of speeding in Newark

In the article referenced in the last post, NCC member David Athey was quoted:
"There are a few places in Delaware where people know not to speed...I want Newark to be one of them."

Restated: we want to be known as a town that is a speedtrap. Where the law is applied differently than it is in most places. We prefer the law to be inconsistently applied and for people visiting the town to be confused, because then we can nail them.

David Athey clearly lives in his own little world in which nobody ever leaves Delaware and everybody knows all of the gossip of all of the small towns in Delaware. Does he seriously believe that (for example) visiting parents of UD students will know that Newark is known as a speedtrap town? He also stated he'd like to use the money on public education...which will not have any effect on anyone outside of Newark. We'll make sure our people know the rules, and then get everyone else. More money for us, no complaints from Newark taxpayers. Yay!

Clearly, if standards are applied differently than in the majority of society, Newark is the inconsistent anomaly, abusing the power of government for its own benefit.

16 August 2008

The Newark City Council Thinks that You're an Idiot

From the second paragraph of this week's Newark Post article "Speeding fines on the rise in Newark":
"This is not intended to be a revenue-generating measure," said City Councilman David Athey.

Ummm, yeah, right.

Of course, later in the article, that same councilman is all over himself talking about what the city will do with the extra money:
Athey requested that an accounting process be established to track any increased revenue that results from the amended fine structure. "I would like to see that money invested in enhanced traffic calming measures or even public education," he said.

The article also quotes Ezra Temko's salivations on the use of the "enhanced" speeding revenue.

What is most remarkable about the article is that the city council actually believes that you are dumb enough to believe these statements. It is similarly disturbing that the Newark Post doesn't apply any of the skepticism that should be the newspaper's role. Nope, we'll just print the PR of the government without questioning it.

Similarly appalling (though more of a statement on public education): describing the fine structure as complicated or exponential, but not actually indicating the formula. It really not tough. Fine = (mph over limit)^2. Pretty simple, actually. Of course, it places a high premium on getting that initial speed limit right. Going 40 in a 35 zone, fine = $5^2 = $25. Going 40 in a 30 zone, fine = $10^2 = $100. Going 40 in a 25 zone (even if it should be a 30 or 35 zone) fine = $15^2 = $225. The NCC has even more incentive to set speed limits too low (under the auspices of safety) because of the squared relationship between fines and speed over the speed limit.

I'm not so much opposed to a modified speeding fine structure - as long as the city (a) sets speed limits reasonably (for a counterexample, see: 25 mph on Paper Mill Road); (b) enforces speed limits reasonably (I just don't see speeding as a major problem in Newark, most "speeding" is selective law enforcement for revenue generation); and (c) those salivating over speeding fines recognize that the fine is often the smallest cost for the driver (robbery by insurance companies is a much bigger issue in $ terms). And, most importantly, the focus of law enforcement must be on public safety and crime, not on revenue collection. Unfortunately, the City Council and the Newark Police Department fail on all four of those counts. They think about revenue, not the costs of their actions (including opportunity costs). Do you think the Newark PD needs more incentives to collect "speeding" fines instead of, say, actually doing something about the muggings?

12 July 2008

All Cower Before the Newark City Council

From this week's Newark Post:
Kildare's pushes back opening to late July.

To summarize: Kildare's planned to be open by now, but the Newark City Council, in a 4-1 vote on June 9, said, "No, you really should wait on this so we can define the terms of your business to our liking. It won't cost you any money to sit around doing nothing, will it? Well, we frankly don't care." Essentially, the NCC wants a public hearing to restrict the use of the outdoor deck (close at 11 pm S-Th nights, 1 am Fri and Sat nights). Why? Because people might actually enjoy themselves drinking beer outside, and we certainly can't have anyone having fun in Newark!

Of course, the owner of Kildare's caved and said, "That's fine," mainly because he still doesn't have the liquor license and doesn't want further delays or scrutiny from the city. Of course, he didn't say that (savvy to the bullying nature of political power that he is)...but why would you conceivably want to close the deck at 11? Certainly I would like to enjoy a cold malted beverage from time to time on the outdoor deck after 11 o'clock on a weekday. I enjoy drinking beer outside. And the deck overlooks a big parking lot. There is no legitimate city interest in closing the deck early - the city is just acting in typical killjoy mode.

08 July 2008

Entrepreneurs in Newark, take note (part 1)

If you want to make money and add to the quality of life in the city, focus on developing a pan-Asian restaurant - combining Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and/or Thai cuisines. But especially Thai. Wow, the Thai food options in northern Delaware are just horrible.
I can guarantee that, assuming that you have high quality food, a reasonable price structure, and can serve alcohol, this restaurant will be very, very popular.
Seriously, what are the best current options for Asian cuisines on a walkable Main Street? Pad Thai at Home Grown; no ambience (but very good food) at Number One Chinese; and the very underrated Saigon (which suffers from poor location, but should be more heavily patronized).