Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dear Friend:

Write a letter to Governor Rendell and all other policy makers to ask them to Complete Our Streets in Berks County. Feel free to cut my name and add your own to the bottom of this example letter, or write your own today. Call, email, or print and send.

Contact the Governor
To e-mail the Governor click here.
To write a letter to the Governor send to:
Governor Edward G. Rendell's Office
225 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120
To telephone the Governor's Office call: (717) 787-2500.

Dear Governor:

I am writing to request that you work with the new nonprofit organization WalkBikeBerks and the new Exeter Township Pedestrian and Bicycle (non-motorized) Task Force to create safer streets for all users in Berks County, PA. We are at a critical point in Exeter where our streets will undergo significant changes in the months and years to come as we grow and develop as a community. Congressman Gerlach and Representative Kessler have already stated that they will support our efforts and help us find funding for our needs. I hope that you, too, are able to support us in policies and funding. In addition, I would ask that you contact PennDOT on our behalf to express your concern for our safety and quality of life.

In February 2008, construction will begin on the 422/Exeter Commons project. WalkBikeBerks seeks to ensure that our streets will be Complete Streets and that our community can rely on Safe Routes to School. We want our community safe for all users, even the most vulnerable citizens -- children, elderly, poor, and disabled. We want those people who cannot or do not drive (who represent more than 30% of the total population) to be able to move about freely and independently. We also want to reduce our own dependence on automobiles to travel from our homes to amenities in our neighborhoods.

I am asking that you do whatever you are able to ensure that this new project, and all others that come to Berks County, adhere to the PennDOT Strike Off Letter SOL 432-0702 and coincide with the Berks County Greenway, Parks and Recreation Plan, the Berks County Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, and the Federal Highway Administration's Bicycle and Pedestrian guidelines. Exeter -- and all townships and boroughs in PA -- can be thriving, vibrant, walkable communities, if we choose to make them so. Please make it a priority to Complete The Streets of Berks County.

Thank you.

Michele Barrett
Founder WalkBikeBerks

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Contact PennDOT Today

The representing attorney for Ironwood Properties Group announced that PennDOT has approved the Highway Occupancy Permit (HOP) for The Exeter Commons/422 development plan in Exeter Township. Do you want Safer Streets For All Users? Do you want real solutions to traffic congestion? This is your chance to speak up and tell those who are creating the new road systems that will impact most of Berks County. Ask for safe, convenient, easily accessible pedestrian, bicycle, and mass transit access in all new road construction and improvement projects, beginning with the Exeter 422 expansion in February 2008. It is NOT too late...there are millions of dollars available for our needs...ALL WE NEED TO DO IS ASK. The more of us who speak up, the more likely PennDOT will realize our need for safer streets.
Call or Write:

Acting District Executive: Tucker Ferguson, P.E.
1002 Hamilton Blvd., Allentown, PA 18101
Business Hours - 8:00 to 4:30 Daily

Information/Receptionist:(610) 871-4100

Fax : (610) 871-4119

Friday, December 28, 2007

Even George W. Bikes???

A Reason to Celebrate in 2008!

Last night the Exeter Supervisors voted to approve the creation of a Pedestrian and Bicycle (Non-Motorized) Task Force.

WalkBikeBerks presented a Complete Streets and Safe Routes to School Slide Show and requested that the township coordinate with WalkBikeBerks to organize the task force to address pedestrian and bicycling issues in their community.

Soon...we'll be able to walk and bike safely and conveniently throughout our home towns.

Congratulations to all who made this possible!

Invite your own township or borough to adopt a similar task force if you don't yet have one. WalkBikeBerks will be happy to join in that goal. We'll work together to create livable communities.

Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Every Visitor to Walk and Bike Berks County Can Comment on this blog.

Dear Reader:

Thank you for taking time to visit WalkBikeBerks. Obviously, my readers should be able to contact me directly at and I will make that correction immediately.

I could not more heartily support your position than had I written it myself. Indeed -- to create walkable/bikable communities, we also have to change how we address ALL traffic issues. To create walkable communities, we need PennDOT engineers to change their road designs. We need our SALDO (subdivision and land-development ordinances) to require that controlled land-development be a part of interconnected system of walkways. It all comes together nicely to create communities where people enjoy a higher quality of life. A Task Force that included the participation of all of our community's experts -- police, health professionals, zoning officers, traffic engineers, etc.-- would enable us to consider all aspects of road design. The adoption of a Ped/Bike Task Force would demonstrate the supervisors' willingness to commit to prioritizing the safety of Exeter's residents.

I just drove through Wyomissing with my family. There are some streets in that community that have traffic calming measures built into their residential street designs. Sidewalks are a small part of the overall design of walkable communities. While I still have so very much to learn, Thomas Hylton's movie and his book, Save Our Land, Save Our Town, address many of the necessary changes AMERICA -- not just Exeter -- needs to adopt to change how our communities grow and thrive. Walkable communities are created with human design...where motor-vehicles are an element, not the overall driving force of all design. Please visit to learn more. Here is an excerpt from the home page of that site:

"Walkable Communities, Inc. also provides a small inventory of publications and photo CDs to assist in further educating people interested in the related issues of community planning and zoning, traffic calming, street and intersection design, specific bicycle and pedestrian facility design, ADA requirements and public involvement processes. "

I hope to see you tomorrow night at the Supervisor's Meeting. I can talk with you then, if you would like. Have a blessed New Year.

~Michele Barrett
Founder, WalkBikeBerks

Letter From a Reader:

To protect pedestrians and cyclists, a community must, as other communities have done successfully, stand against those things which are dangerous to those walking and biking. To apply a band aid to the problem after the fact is futile at best and will never be able to provide the necessary protection. The primary mandate should be to control the amount and speed of traffic through a community. This is one of the most basic steps in community planning and civil engineering 101. (My comments: By choosing walkable communities, we will be primarily focused on designing streets that reduce and slow traffic so that any ten-year old can safely and conveniently walk throughout their home town.)

The first concern should be to stop the construction of major highways and thoroughfares through what is basically a residential community. Right. No matter how many pedestrian walkway, precautions, etc. are added, the environment created by fast moving multi-lane thoroughfares will never be safe! The municipality MUST describe and maintain a clear plan for the community. Development both residential and commercial must fulfill a need, be well defied and fit within the profile of the community. Further, a municipal authority must determine if major road construction and developments, along with the additional tax burden which ultimately comes with such commitments, are really in the interest of the community. I agree.

Children trying to get to school, riding bikes and walking are the most vulnerable and their safety and well being should be foremost in any consideration of major road construction and municipal planning. Residents must decide what kind of environment they want to create in their community. To ask some basic questions about what is the kind of town in which they want their children to grow up? (My comments: Please attend the Township meeting tomorrow night and make these comments there. These are exactly the goals I share. These are the same questions I am asking.) Is living in the environs of a multi-land highway or next door to another strip mall the quality of life they are looking for? Do they really want their children to have to cross a multi-lane highway under any conditions?

A Pedestrian & Bicycle Advisory Task Force can only be beneficial if the community has already committed itself to the fundamental requirements for the safety of the residents. At this point Exeter Township has not demonstrated any desire to even address these requirements and are only looking at a short-term and very questionable financial benefit. (My comments: A Pedestrian and Bicycle (Or Non-Motorized) Advisory Task Force will focus directly on creating HUMAN SPACE...where the safety of people...not the first priority. Moving PEOPLE safely from one destination to another should be the driving force of transportation design. That's my dream. Coincidentally, walkable communities also bring increased economic profit to communities. They are a win-win solution for everyone involved.)

All the best for the New Year.
A Reader
(name omitted to protect privacy)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

December 27 -- County-wide Support

Exeter Township Supervisors
will hear
December 27, 2007
Exeter Township Building
4975 DeMoss Road, Reading, PA 19606

(If you are unable to attend, I invite you to write a letter of support of a Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Task Force to the supervisors. I would be happy to submit that letter for you.)
A goal of WalkBikeBerks will be to encourage all local governments to create a similar task force. Please demonstrate your COUNTY-WIDE support by attending this meeting.

Safe Routes Coordinator -- Contact Yours Today!

As we prepare to launch our campaign by requesting that our local governments adopt Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Task Forces, we need to invite the participation of the experts who can best advise and support our efforts. Please take a moment -- TODAY -- to call and write to your state SR2S Coordinator and invite their participation in our goals. This is the person who can help us find the SR2S funding we need.

Chris Metka, Safe Routes to School Coordinator
Office of Planning
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
400 North Street
6th Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Phone: (717) 787-8065

In addition: Write to your government elected officials and ask them to make a public, written statement supporting Complete Streets and Safe Routes to School in Berks County. Go to the Berks County League of Women Voters resource page to get contact information for all of your elected officials. (Send the same letter to save time, but write or call all of them.)

Friday, December 21, 2007

How to Create a Pedestrian Mall

by Michelle Wallar

"In Essen, Germany, merchants found that even on rainy days, pedestrian streets are frequented by leisurely strollers, suggesting that heavy traffic is a greater impediment to walking than bad weather. Many cities ... have all reported a visitor increase of 50% following the creation of pedestrian areas. Merchants on Copenhagen's Stroget-who initially opposed closing the street to vehicles-reported sales increases of 25-40%. An interesting phenomenon was thus observed: people in cars do not window shop, people on foot do."

Pedestrian HAWK signal

Greenway, Park and Recreation Plan

The Berks County Greenway, Park and Recreation Plan was adopted by the Berks County Commissioners on December 20, 2007.

Please encourage and support the County in implementing the Greenway, Park, and Open Space Plan. Comments welcome.

Take a moment to thank the Berks County Planning Commission for adopting this new policy.
Berks County Planning Commission
Berks County Services Center
633 Court St., 14th Floor
Reading, PA 19601-4309
Ph: 610-478-6300
Fax: 610-478-6316

Glenn R. Knoblauch, Executive Director

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bicycle Commuter Tax Benefit & National Bicycle Greenway

Here's a short mention on the bicycle commuter tax benefit from the energy bill being stripped while the Hummer tax benefit remained. Follow the link then to the NBG initiative!

Federal Commuter Tax Benefit for Bikes -- A Loss for Cyclists

H.R. 6 (Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection, and Energy Efficiency Act of 2007 )

An Act to move the United States toward greater energy independence and security, to increase the production of clean renewable fuels, to protect consumers, to increase the efficiency of products, buildings, and vehicles, to promote research on and deploy greenhouse gas capture and storage options, and to improve the energy performance of the Federal Government, and for other purposes.

Here is the Roll Call Vote - Take note on how your Senators voted:

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Pedestrian/Bicycle Solution

Please share other examples of the vast array of choices to incorporate walking and biking in the transportation infrastructure.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Automobile's Occupants: The Pedestrian

"America continues to spend billions planning highways, installing traffic systems, and building garages, but devotes too little attention to pedestrian movement after the vehicles have arrived. We need to do more to make our cities friendlier to the automobile's occupants. This requires more than redecorating a few downtown arteries. It means creating entire networks that encourage interaction among shopping facilities, convention centers, hotels, office buildings, and all the other components of a healthy business district. The success of the 16th Street Mall in Denver and Central City District in Philadelphia demonstrates that this is an achievable goal."

The American City: What Works, What Doesn't; Second Edition, Alexander Garvin

Second Meeting

Exeter Community Library
Tuesday, December 18
7:00 p.m.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Only If We Ask For It


$4.5 billion in federal funds will be used over the next four years to make America a safer and more enjoyable place to bicycle and walk!

$4.5 billion is still less than two percent of the total funding in SAFETEA-LU.
Money from other programs will also be used to improve bicycling and
walking – but only if we ask for it.