Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ride Your Bike To Work

The U.S. News and World Report suggests riding your bike to work as one of "50 Ways to Improve Your Life" in its December 18th issue.

http://www.usnews.com/articles/news/50-ways-to-improve-your-life/2008/12/18/ride-your-bike-to-work.html

As you celebrate the closing of 2008 and look forward to all of the possibilities of 2009 -- set this new year's resolution: Join WalkBikeBerks for Bike to Work 2009!

We need 'employees' from every profession -- yes, that means you. We'll make sure to help you improve your life -- by improving walking and bicycling in Berks County. But....we can't do it without you.

I look forward to seeing you January 10 at 8:00 a.m. at the Holy Cross Church in Reading, PA to begin planning Bike To Work. Our regular meeting begins at 9:00 -- and we are always happy to see new faces and make new friends. National Bike to Work events are held in May -- and you can learn more now by visiting: http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/bikemonth/.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Winter Cyclist


http://www.flickr.com/photos/voidoid21/298894294/

A wintry chill is in the atmosphere,
As from the heaving lake the storm wind blows;
And weak-kneed brethren of the cycle fear
That brings the riding season to close.
Jack Frost assails us with his wicked thrusts;
Our polka-dotted mufflers are on guard
And many a good wheel in the basement rusts
Which should be speeding down the boulevard.


And shall we join the patient, suffering throng,
Which crowds the rumbling street cars to the door?
Which kicks against the service loud and long,
But keeps on riding as it did before?
Nay! Perish such a thought. On every street
The hardy wheelman has the right of way;
No ancient female comes to claims his seat;
No cable breaks, no lumbering teams delay.


Our hearts beat high, our life-blood dancing flows,
Though ice-flakes sparkle in the biting air;
While street-car heaters, every patron knows,
Are but a vain delusion and a snare.
The steed that bore us through the woods aglow
With sunshine, where the morning glories creep,
Will bear us safely through the mud-streaked snow
Until it lies at least five inches deep.

PETER GRANT



Monday, December 29, 2008

PennDOT Smart Transportation

Renee Sigel, Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Pennsylvania Division Administrator, speaks on Smart Transportation

ACCOMODATE ALL MODES OF TRAVEL: Watch this slideshow to see solutions that accomodate bicyclists, pedestrians, mass transit, historic and land preservation, and traffic flow:

6. Accommodate all modes of travel

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Reading Eagle Supports Us, Won't You?

More than a year ago, the Reading Eagle provided us this written 'endorsement' of the work we hope to accomplish in Berks County. We've been working hard to make the ideas highlighted below a reality, and we think we've made some significant gains in only our first year. Mount Penn has held two successful Walk to School events with our help -- and the funds we received as partners in a Safe Routes to School Academy Grant. Exeter Township Pedestrian and Bicycle Task Force has submitted a Smart Transportation / Pennsylvania Communities Transportation Initiative (PCTI) application with the goal of writing a Township-wide Greenway and Transportation Plan. We have also been supporting the work of the Schuylkill River Heritage Area, the Berks County Planning Commission and the RiverPlace Corporation. We are working with Emily Weidner to complete a Bicycle Friendly Community Application for Reading. We would love to have you join us and let us work with you to make your community a nicer place to live. Let us know how we can help you.

Editorials : Fostering better use of roads a good idea

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fostering better use of roads a good idea
The Issue: A Berks County group is formed to find ways to make streets and highways more inviting to hikers and bikers.
Our Opinion: In this time of expanding waistlines, encouraging any kind of physical activity is commendable.
If the goal of a recently formed group called Walk Bike Berks becomes a reality, area roadways will become multipurpose transportation corridors accommodating not only motorized vehicles, but also bicyclists and pedestrians. The concept is certainly worthy of serious consideration. As gasoline prices rise and waistlines expand, encouraging people to use human-powered modes of transportation is an excellent idea. Michele Barrett, an Exeter Township resident and founder of Walk Bike Berks, said the group is studying ways in which Berks County’s streets and highways can be made more inviting to those who would like to use them for hiking and biking. Barrett said the group plans to promote building sidewalks and adding bicycle lanes to roads and crosswalks. The group has formed an alliance with two national groups — Complete the Streets and the National Center for Safe Routes to School — that are promoting similar issues across the country. Complete the Streets was begun by a diverse collection of organizations including the AARP, the American Council of the Blind, the National Parks Conservation Association and Paralyzed Veterans of America. According to its Web site, Complete the Streets encourages local and state governments to design roadways and re-configure existing ones in order to make them more pedestrian friendly. Last year, through the efforts of Complete the Streets, Chicago issued a policy mandating that transportation projects should accommodate all users of public rights of way, even the most vulnerable, such as the elderly and the disabled. The National Center for Safe Routes to School, created by Congress in 2005, involves a network of more than 300 organizations and promotes exactly what its name implies — making it safer for children to walk or bike to school. The center’s aim, according to its Web site, is to increase the number of students walking and biking to school as a way to fight obesity among children. These days most students are driven by the parents, ride a school bus or drive themselves to school. But that wasn’t always the case. According to the National Household Travel Survey, in 1969 approximately 50 percent of students either walked or rode bicycles to school. Over the next 30 years that figure had dropped to 15 percent. When Congress created the Safe Routes to School center, lawmakers also provided it with $612 million to fund projects across the country. In Bay City, Texas, the center was instrumental in providing a $233,000 grant to establish a three-mile-long trail connecting four schools. In Huntingdon, Tenn., the town and the Huntingdon Special School District were given $250,000 to construct and improve sidewalks, including a bridge over a creek, to connect a primary school with a middle school. In Takoma Park, Md., a $150,000 grant from the Safe Routes to School was used to hold workshops on safe cycling and construct sidewalks around the town’s four public schools and one private school. As for Walk Bike Berks, Barrett has expressed the hope that the group will be able to make a difference in the lives of county residents. “I just want to love the town I live in,” she said. “I want to walk out the front door and feel connected to my community. I do think that people feel more tied to their community if they can freely move about.” That makes sense.

Monday, December 22, 2008

BCTV December 22, 2008

WalkBikeBerks
on Berks County Television (BCTV)

TONIGHT: December 22 -- 7:00 PM
Bicycle Education

Service Electric: Channel 19
Comcast: Channel 13
Watch LIVE or on Archives at www.BCTV.org

We invite you to call-in during the live program: 610-378-0426

Replays on: Wednesday @ 1:00 PM, Thursday @ 10:00 PM, Friday @ 9:00 AM

Create awareness of need for improved accessibility for individuals using non-motorized forms of transportation.

Produced and Hosted by:
Bob Hospidor

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Walking School Bus in Mount Penn, PA

A little rain couldn't stop these Pennsylvanian children from walking to school in December. Surrounded by parents, teachers, police escort on bicycles, and volunteers from WalkBikeBerks -- these kids simply prepared. They carried umbrellas, wore brightly colored baseball caps, and were sure to clip their reflective zipper pulls on their outerwear. Posters from the Safe Routes to School Academy Tool Kit were displayed to spread the message: Walking to school is safe, healthy, and fun for children.
The 'school bus' carries umbrellas, zipper pulls, baseball caps, and other supplies that are given to children at each new 'bus' stop along the route.

Reflective zipper pulls and brightly colored baseball caps make the children more visible for the early morning trip to school.

See the school bus in the back of the photo? Children (and their parents) were delighted to leave the real bus behind to join the Walking School Bus in Mount Penn. Even in a December rain. Why? Because they value a lifetime of health, safety and fun.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Update from Streetsblog.net

More Portland Cyclists Mean Safer Portland Streets
by Sarah Goodyear on December 10, 2008

Portland, Oregon.
Photo: Lynette_1_2_3/Flickr

Today on the Streetsblog Network, people are talking about safety, among other things. Bike Portland has a post on how the number of bike commuters is up in that bike-friendly city and the number of traffic injuries to bicyclists is down, while Bike PGH wants to see some local response to the world's number-one killer of children: traffic crashes.
Plus, Car Less Ohio links to a great petition from the Rails-to-Trail Conservancy, and Transportation for America calls for accountability on the "green" recovery package from Obama and the Congress.
These stories and more right now on Streetsblog.net.

Broadway in New York City -- a street for bikes and pedestrians


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Bike Friendly City?

Both the letter to the editor below and the article referenced are worthy of reading. I encourage you to visit the Reading Eagle website to post a comment in response to the letter-to-the editor. Thank you, Kyle, for your thoughtful comments.

We will host Bike To Work Day again in May 2009 and International Walk (or Bike) to School Day in October in 2009. With your support, we can continue to build the events over time. With the participation of businesses and employees county-wide, Bike To Work Day can be a wonderful celebration of choice in transportation -- and demonstration for the need for Complete Streets to provide access to every traveler (walkers, bikers, and mass transit). International Walk to School Day provides opportunities for communities to prioritize their children's health and safety over all other issues -- and brings awareness to our need to create liveable communities where children are safe to walk in their own neighborhoods.


http://www.readingeagle.com/blog.aspx?bid=3&id=18734&t=Reading-should-be-bikefriendly-city

Reading should be bike-friendly city
Editor:
I concur with the recommendation that Greater Berks develop walkable neighborhoods ("A blueprint for tomorrow," Reading Eagle, Nov. 19). In conjunction with that Reading, as the hub of the county, also needs to become a friendlier place to ride a bicycle.
Gasoline prices recently hit record highs causing people to consider alternate forms of transportation. Prices will rise again when the economy improves, and more people are trying to live their lives in a greener manner. Hence bicycle sales have increased significantly.
How cool would it be if Reading were to become the first city in Pennsylvania to be designated a bicycle-friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists?
WalkBikeBerks recently sponsored a walk-to-school day in Mount Penn. How about a bike to school day or a bike to work day in Reading?
Wouldn’t it be neat if we had a bicycle commuter center containing showers, lockers and bike lockers? How about the Franklin Street station restored as part of a complete intermodal transportation system? The potential rewards are great less traffic, less pollution and more exercise.
Kyle B. KempExeter Township
Posted By ReadingEagle Letters At 12:01 AM • Comments (6) Trackbacks (0)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Yards Signs Needed

Do you have used yard signs and posts sitting in your garage or basement? Are they in fair to good condition? Then we would love to have them.

Donate them to WalkBikeBerks today! Call 610-779-9702 to speak to our President, Michele Barrett.

Rather than filling our landfill with used yard signs, allow us to recycle them.

We need whatever you have -- political campaigns, yard sale, real estate, or advertisements -- no matter the message or design, we can use your yard signs now. We will spray paint the signs and use them to promote our own campaigns* -- BIKE TO WORK (May) and INTERNATIONAL WALK TO SCHOOL DAY (October).

Thank you for your generosity.

*All donations to WalkBikeBerks become the property of WalkBikeBerks and will be used to further any/all of the goals of our organization.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mount Penn's Walking School Bus


Contact: Michele Barrett, President
WalkBikeBerks
(610) 779-9702
December 9, 2008

For Immediate Release: Mount Penn Elementary School’s Walking School Bus

Studies show that fewer children are walking and biking to school, and more children are at risk of becoming overweight. Changing behaviors of children and parents require creative solutions that are safe and fun. Implementing a walking school bus can be both.

On Wednesday, December 10, Mount Penn Elementary will hold a second walk to school day celebration as part of their campaign to get more children walking to school. Together with WalkBikeBerks, Mount Penn Administrators, teachers and parents will create a ‘walking school bus’ to lead children through their community streets. A walking school bus is a group of children walking to school with one or more adults. If that sounds simple, it is, and that’s part of the beauty of the walking school bus.

This program is a result of a PANA (Pennsylvania Advocates for Nutrition and Activity) Safe Routes to School Academy Mini-Grant. Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs are sustained efforts by parents, schools, community leaders and local, state, and federal governments to improve the health and well-being of children by enabling and encouraging them to walk and bicycle to school.

Mount Penn Elementary students will practice pedestrian safety skills, enjoy social time with their friends, and adopt an active lifestyle that can change their futures. “Two recent studies have found that walking to school is associated with higher overall physical activity throughout the day. There are many potential benefits of physical activity for youth including:
  • Weight and blood pressure control
  • Bone, muscle, and joint health and maintenance
  • Reduction in the risk of diabetes
  • Improved psychological welfare
  • Better academic performance
Mount Penn Administrators hope to see other benefits realized in their community as well. As much as 26% of morning traffic can be school-related. Traffic can lead to even less walking or biking. As more children are driven, more parents become convinced that traffic conditions make it unsafe for walking and biking and they join the line of cars at the school. When more children walk to school, the number of cars surrounding the school is reduced at pick-up and drop-off times making it safer for children and reducing traffic congestion.


WalkBikeBerks is a county-wide nonprofit organization working to make walking and bicycling practical, convenient and safe recreation and transportation options for everyone in Berks County, PA. WalkBikeBerks was established in February 2008 and is working with every community members to promote ongoing bicycle and pedestrian improvements through engineering, education, encouragement and enforcement programs. They are working to provide SRTS programs to all schools in the county. To learn more, contact walkbikeberks@yahoo.com.

The Penn State Hershey Center for Nutrition & Activity Promotion works on a statewide scale through Pennsylvania Advocates for Nutrition and Activity (PANA) to deliver programs and events that support healthy eating and physical activity in schools, recreation, healthcare, and the community. A new round of SRTS Academy Mini-Grants are available online now at http://www.srtsacademy.org/.

###

Unfinished Business

December 8, 2008

Meeting Agenda

Public Comment

Unfinished Business
Diamond Credit Union Part 1
Diamond Credit Union Part 2
Diamond Credit Union Part 3

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I told the President

AASHTO WANTS TO HEAR FROM YOU:

"Here’s YOUR chance to tell President-elect Barack Obama and the new Congress what they need to know to take action to improve transportation next year.


What’s bugging you?"

You are encouraged to visit the IToldThePresident.org website to:
Submit a Comment Submit a Video View all Comments

"What’s on YOUR mind?
In one year, the legislation that decides how the federal government funds and supports transportation will end.
Congress and the new President must come up with smart solutions for solving congestion, improving safety, and paying to repair and rebuild our 50-year-old interstate system and other highways, bridges, roads and transit.
There’s a lot riding on these decisions.
We want our elected officials to hear from YOU. "



"The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) is the 'Voice of Transportation' representing State Departments of Transportation in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. AASHTO is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association serving as a catalyst for excellence in transportation. "

http://www.itoldthepresident.org/

Sightline Video: Your Way on the Highway

What if you could hit the open road right here in Berks County?

Open to more transit and bicycles.

Open to more car sharing and flex driving.

Open to saving money on gas.

Watch this short video from Sightline and find out.



http://www.sightline.org/maps/animated_maps/your-way-on-the-highway

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

$60 Million in Smart Transportation Funding -- Dec. 15

Do Not Miss this Deadline.

December 15.

http://www.smart-transportation.com

Complete the two page application. Submit by December 15. Create better -- walkable, bikable -- transportation in Berks County!

Go!

Monday, December 1, 2008

SIDEWALK WAIVER DENIED!

Go to: http://www.co.berks.pa.us/exeter/cwp/view.asp?a=1467&Q=493279
Select: Diamond Credit Union

Dear [Exeter Township] Board of Supervisors:

I want to sincerely thank you for the decision on November 24, 2008 to deny the waiver of the sidewalk ordinance for Diamond Credit Union. I want to directly thank you, Mr. Kennedy, for your statement that "If we think it's unsafe to walk along 422, wouldn't it be safer to have a sidewalk? and If we don't start somewhere, we'll never have sidewalks." I also greatly appreciate the comments from Michelle Kircher who said, "You have Sheetz across the street, you have Pineland Park down the road. Kevin's right, you have to start someplace. If you want to promote [walkability] in the township, then you just have to do it. This is a corner property."

I also appreciate that Mr. Wilson will pass along to the Planning Commissioners that "if sidewalks are to be there, we want them now." I am so pleased that the Planners and the Supervisors are working so closely together on this -- and so many other issues that impact our quality of life.

I do not know if you are aware, but that location (or at one of the corners of that very same intersection) is a designated school bus stop for elementary children in Exeter Township -- as I have been told. I am not only pleased with the decision for you to promote a walkable community, but I am also deeply grateful that you have made a decision that will directly protect the safety of the most vulnerable members of our township -- the children who stand at the intersection of 422 and Pineland Road waiting for their school bus every morning and afternoon. Thank you.


Sincerely,
Michele Barrett

Scenes from 47th Street in Exeter

The intersection of Oak Parkway and 47th Street in Exeter Township is more than an access road to the Exeter Library and the new shopping center -- it is home to families, both young and old. We live and play here. We need to stand on the edge of our lawns to mow, to plant flowers and trees, to get our mail and greet our neighbors. We need to walk along and across 47th Street to walk our dogs, allow our children to play on a friend's swing set, or borrow a cup of sugar while we're baking holiday cookies. Young teens cross the street to visit our oldest residents to deliver mail or take in their newspapers. Older teens cross the street in the evenings to babysit, or they ride their bicycles from their homes to the library, the park, to their friends' to play ball, or to after school activities.

In Exeter -- our street -- this beautiful street filled with young and old, different colors and different cultures, all neighborly and caring -- our street has been compromised. The integrity of our small neighborhood community has been threatened. Our quality of life has been diminished. The safety of every single one of us is at risk.


See here where road takes priority over sidewalk -- where cars become more important than people. (*note -- there will be no sidewalk continued here -- the school bus stop for children.)

Now that the construction is complete and the road is open -- "Hallelujah," say all of you who are frustrated with waiting in stopped car traffic coming and going from work, school, or errands -- but FOUR LANES OF SPEEDING TRAFFIC now race up and down along the street we call home.

We still need to stand at our lawn's edge to wait for our children to get onto and off of their school buses. We still need to interact with our neighbors and our community. We still need to walk or bike across our street -- because we are not going to drive to simply cross the street.

47th Street needs pedestrian accommodations -- sidewalks and crosswalks, school bus stop signs, and speed limit enforcement. The new traffic pattern will need to be monitored and drivers will need time to learn how to safely travel on a widened roadway that still serves only residents -- this is a neighborhood.

See if you can find a safe passage for us in the pictures below.















Saturday, November 29, 2008

T4 America

It’s time to tell President-Elect Barack Obama to follow through on his campaign promises—like increasing funding for biking and walking. Obama has a remarkable opportunity to use his mantle for change and willingness of Americans to be part of the solution. He can call on Americans to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil in a year or less by encouraging biking, walking, transit, carpooling and reducing our consumption of oil. With a call to the nation, Obama can provide some incentives and leadership, and show that when it comes to creating healthy communities, cleaning the air, and becoming self sufficient, with a little leadership....Yes We Can!

Please take a moment to sign onto this letter from Transportation for America asking President-Elect Obama to make building that 21st Century transportation system a priority in his first 100 days.

Sending your letter is easy online here.
(LINK TO http://action.smartgrowthamerica.org/t/3224/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=162)

Sprawl and Walkability

What do you think? Do you agree that the new economy will encourage a new trend in transportation? Consider this:

Sprawl Puts Americans In "Double Bind" of Long Commutes, Home Value Losses

The current global financial crisis stems in no small measure from the American phenomenon "of sending people ever farther into the countryside to find houses that they (barely) qualified to purchase," with such buyers now finding themselves "in a double bind" of punishingly long and costly commutes and home value losses, writes Smart Growth America and Transportation for America Communication Director David Goldberg on the Seattle-based WorldChanging international media network's web page, quoting Australia's Curtin University Professor Peter Newman, who told The Sydney Morning Herald that "(t)he old economy of car dependence is over; with rising oil prices and climate change, people cannot afford to live in outer suburbs and drive to work."http://www.smartgrowth.org/news/article.asp?art=6887&state=52

HEADLINES
Daily updates on smart growth issues can be found at www.smartgrowth.org/news/webnews.asp

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bike Donation to Salvation Army

Despite the rain -- WalkBikeBerks presented a Fuji Bike to the Salvation Army during their 2009 Red Kettle Kick Off on Friday, November 14 in the city of Reading. WalkBikeBerks would like to acknowledge Spokes Bike in Hamburg for providing the bike.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

President-Elect Obama Supports Safe Routes To School!

READ MORE:

Please visit http://www.saferoutespartnership.org/mediacenter/6621/188598 to view the SRTS National Partnership’s November 2008 E-newsletter.

Best,
Brooke Driesse
Program Associate
Safe Routes to School National Partnership
______________________
http://www.saferoutespartnership.org

RATS PUBLIC PARTICIPATION PLAN -- JANUARY 17, 2008

It is time that your voice is heard, that your opinion is counted, and that your needs are met.
WalkBikeBerks needs your help.
There are 73 local government entities in Berks County. We would love to be able address the local issues that affect your day-to-day life -- the missing sidewalk connections, the un-maintained trails, the 422 bicycle barrier that prevents you from accessing destinations in your community -- but to do that we need you.
WalkBikeBerks is seeking passionate, thoughtful, active Berks County residents who want to influence transportation and land development issues in their own home towns. To create change in every community in Berks County, we need your help. We need you to attend local government meetings in your home town and to bring issues of walking and biking concerns to us. Individually, our Board President would need to attend about 230 meetings EVERY month to stay informed on all of the issues. She can't do that alone. But with your help -- we can work together to bring Smart Transportation*, Complete Streets, and Safe Routes to School to every municipality in Berks County.
Will you help us improve walking and biking in Berks County?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Here's one way that you can become involved RIGHT NOW:
"1.3 RATS Contact Information
For more information on this Public Participation Plan or on RATS regional transportation planning activities, please contact us through the Berks County Planning Commission using the information shown on the front cover of the document."

READING AREA TRANSPORTATION STUDY
C/o
Berks County Planning Commission
633 Court St. FL 14
Reading, PA 19601-4302
Ph: 610-478-6300
FAX: 610-478-6316
Email: planning@countyofberks.com
Web: http://www.co.berks.pa.us/planning


http://www.co.berks.pa.us/planning/lib/planning/rats/ppp/readingmpo_ppp.pdf

________________________________________________

To Learn More About PennDOT's Smart Transportation Initiative, visit: http://www.smart-transportation.com/. Go Now. There are $60,000,000.00 up for grabs!

Smart Walk

This blog is excellent. Perhaps some lessons to be learned...a model to follow? Check it out.

http://smarterneighbors.com/category/pedestrian-safety/

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Blumenauer or Oberstar as Secretary of Transportation?

WalkBikeBerks maintains the policy that we'll post accurate information so that readers can make their own educated decisions to support walking and biking.

But..today there is a circulating rumor too good to keep to myself:
Will President-elect Obama select Congressman Earl Blumenauer or Congressman James L. Oberstar as his new Secretary of Transportation? Some say yes.

Who are they?

Learn more about Rep Blumenauer's Congressional Bike Caucus here: http://blumenauer.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=280&Itemid=162

"Rep. James L. Oberstar (D-Minn.) is a bicycle fanatic who rides his various bikes about 2,300 miles a year." Find more here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/09/AR2007070901533.html

See where I caught the buzz: Blumenauer as Secretary of Transportation? - Cyclelicious#links: "Rep. Jim Oberstar"

What to do while we wait? Call our Congressional leaders and ask them what they have done for Transportation Policy to include walking and biking for better access and mobility. You can find their contact information here: http://directory.usayfoundation.org/PA.html.

Why isn't Pennsylvania leading the nation (and the world) in better transportation? These are questions we need to ask our elected officials.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Our Online Store

We have added a new Merchandise category to the blog.

MERCHANDISE
Shop WalkBikeBerks Online!

Can't find what you're looking for? Write to us and let us know. We'll do what we can to add products for you!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Why WALK the VOTE?












My dear friend and neighbor, Amy and her handsome son Evan walked to the polls with me today. It was such a beautiful day for a stroll through our neighborhoods. As we walked, we chatted with each other and some folks who were in their yards. Amy brought along her camera so we could snap some shots of others who WALKED to the polls this morning.
Our good friend Tracy is pictured with her two beautiful children, Christian and Audrey. She said she decided to walk because she lives close. She also said she was thinking, "It really is dangerous walking up this hill [to the polling location] without sidewalks. Cars are coming both directions, and it's really not safe."
The three ladies pictured answered "Why did you walk today?" with these statements:
1. I only live two blocks away.
2. It [walking] is environmentally friendly.
3. It's easier than driving -- I live close.
The last picture shows a voter waiting in line. She also said she walked because she lives close and "it's just easy."
While there, I did not notice anyone on bicycle. So...if you bike to the polls today...take a picture and send it in. I would love to include you in WalkBikeBerks photo album for Election 2008!

WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU VOTE -- TODAY!

You can visit: Can I VOTE to find out if you are registered by visiting: http://www.canivote.org/. This site will provide nonpartisan information about candidates, and other useful information to help you make an educated decision today.

You can also use the resources provided in today's Reading Eagle...a very important article detailing information you need when you go to the polls today. Thank you Reading Eagle for providing us the details that help us VOTE!
__________________________________________________________
11/4/2008
What to know before you vote
http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=112497

What to know
•Polls are open today from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
•The shortest lines are likely to be during late morning or early afternoon.
•Anyone in line at 8 p.m. will be allowed to vote, but anyone who arrives after that will be turned away.
If you're not sure you're registered, go to http://www.votespa.com/. If you don't have Internet access, call Berks County Election Services at 610-478-6490.
•Your polling place can be identified at www.co.berks.pa.us/elections. The site also provides directions and information on accessibility for people with disabilities. If you don't have Internet access, call Berks County Election Services.
•Voters may wear political buttons, T-shirts, hats or other items promoting a candidate as long as they do not attempt to draw attention to themselves.

•Poll workers and watchers may not wear political items.
•Identification is required for first-time voters only. A driver's license is best, but other forms of official identification are acceptable.
•If you encounter a problem, ask poll workers for help. If they can't help, ask a poll worker to contact Election Services.
If there is a question about your registration or polling location, you have the right to vote on a provisional ballot. Your vote will be counted after your registration is verified.
•If you experience any other problems at a polling place, report it to http://www.866ourvote.org/ or call 866-687-8683.Sources: Election Protection, a nonpartisan coalition led by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; Pennsylvania Department of State; and Berks County Election Services.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Funding Walkways and Bikeways

There are excellent funding opportunities for building new walkways, bikeways, and greenways in Pennsylvania such as the Smart Transportation PA Community Transportation Initiative (PCTI) -- whew! Check it out here: http://www.smart-transportation.com/

In addition to these specific funding opportunities, there are also FHWA and FTA Funds that may be used for bicycle and pedestrian activities: http://www.wfrc.org/reports/publichealthandtransportation/appendixe.pdf. Notice that Safe Routes to School funds are one of many categories listed where sidewalks, trails, ADA accomodations, bike lanes or bridge accomodations can be funded.

So, when you ask for your local government to change policies and create Complete Streets, be sure to encourage them to seek any and all resources to build Complete Streets -- and know that 'grant' money is not the only way to pay for improvements.

Federal and state money is available to communities who prioritize pedestrian and bicycle access and safety.

Friday, October 31, 2008

FOUR DAYS TO DECIDE


How will you travel to the polls on Election Day: November 4, 2008? When you look back years from now to recall the day American History was changed forever, what details will you share? Will you say, "On November 4, 2008, I made a conscious effort to be part of history. I decided that I would leave my car at home. I chose to WALK to the polls"?
Or, will you say, "I BICYCLED to demonstrate that 2 mile ride is faster, easier, healthier, and cleaner than driving the same distance"?
Perhaps your work and family schedule, distance from work, and other factors make biking or walking difficult, dangerous, or impractical, so you decide to use public transportation. Call BARTA today to make sure you have access to a bus route that gets you safely from work to the polls and home again. Make how you travel part of your story.
If you must drive your own car to the polls...make sure you fill it with coworkers and friends -- and VOTE ON NOVEMBER 4th!

Support the Berks County Conservancy

In an effort to prevent the loss of another excellent trail connection, let's be sure to do our individual parts to make sure we support the work of the Berks County Conservancy.

Critical connection is people, not trails

The issue: Conservation groups are urging the county to connect recreational areas with trails.
Our opinion: Linking those areas is a great idea, as is adding more trails, but it needs to be done right.

"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks." The quote attributed to John Muir captures why we agree with the conservation groups that want to link up Berks County recreational areas with a series of trails: The payback is incalculable.
The health benefits of walking are well-known, and the need for it grows with America’s spreading obesity problem. Walking is an excellent, inexpensive way to burn calories, requiring nothing more elaborate than the proper clothing and the right footwear. Add to these the mental-health benefits of a walk through nature: Local hikers will testify that even normally dour and reserved Berks Countians typically greet others with a smile on the trail.

..."This underscores the importance of the vision described by Berks County Conservancy President Kimberly Murphy, a network of greenways — trails — that attach recreational hubs together."

...

Upset at the loss of their land, likely inconveniences and the prospect of threats to their privacy and security, angry residents fired back at special meetings of the county commissioners and elsewhere. The ultimate broadside that left the trail proponents’ sails in tatters may have been a petition against the trail, presented to the commissioners, bearing several hundred signatures. The project soon foundered, and the county returned the grant money.

[What?!?]

To Read the Full Article: http://readingeagle.com/blog.aspx?bid=4

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pedestrian Safety Tips for Halloween

PBIC News Brief
October 29, 2008
http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/ss/users/link.php?UserID=91517&Newsletter=26&List=8&LinkType=Send&LinkID=464

Pedestrian Safety Tips for Halloween

CHAPEL HILL, NC — The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center offers the following tips for safety-related and general interest stories surrounding the upcoming Halloween holiday weekend.

Guidelines for safe walking at Halloween
  • Young children need a parent or other adult to go trick or treating with them. There is no magic age when children are old enough to walk alone. Parents need to judge when their children are mature enough to go without an adult.
  • Choose the safest routes to walk.
  • Pick places where there are sidewalks or paths separated from traffic if possible.
  • Look for well-lit streets with slow traffic.
  • Remind children to watch for cars turning or pulling out of driveways.
  • Limit the number of street crossings. Avoid crossing busy or high-speed roads.

Review crossing safety rules with children. Tell them to:

  • Even when adults are looking, always look for cars for yourself.
  • Stop at the curb and look left, right and left again for traffic. Wait until no traffic is coming and begin crossing. Keep looking for traffic until you have finished crossing.
  • When crossing the street at an intersection, obey traffic signs and signals and look for yourself to see if cars are coming. Look left, right and left and then behind you and in front of you for turning cars.
  • Walk, don’t run across the street.
  • Think visibility. Wear bright colors, use retro reflective materials. Carry flashlights. In bad weather, visibility is even more important.
  • Choose homes that welcome Halloween visitors. Look for well lit driveways, walkways or paths to the front door.

Do a costume check.

  • Can the children walk easily in the outfit?
  • Make sure the masks or head gear allow the children to see clearly what is around them.
  • Be sure they can safely negotiate steps on dimly lit walkways.

When taking a group of kids trick or treating:

  • Have a good ratio of parents/adults to children. For young children, consider 1 adult for every 3 children.
  • Arrange the adults so that there is an adult in the front and one in the back. This is to prevent children from getting ahead or lagging behind the group.

Plan how to cross streets:

  • Avoid busy, high-speed or multi-lane roads.
  • Give children exiting the street room to enter the sidewalk area.

Remember children are not miniature adults.

  • They often act before thinking.
  • They have one-third narrower side vision.
  • They can’t judge speed.
  • They are shorter than adults and can’t see over cars and bushes.
  • Make sure the children understand what is expected of them.
  • Have a plan for dealing with disruptive kids.

Messages for Motorists

  • Drive slowly through residential streets and areas where pedestrians trick-or-treating could be expected.
  • Watch for children darting out from between parked cars.
  • Watch for children walking on roadways, medians, and curbs.
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully.
  • At twilight and later in the evening, watch for children in dark clothing.

~Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Watch us on BCTV

RealPlayer video link:

Berks Community Television - Your Channel To Your Community - Archives


Correction: Please note the mailing address for WalkBikeBerks is:

PO Box 6795
Wyomissing, PA 19610

WALK THE VOTE

Do you want elected officials to seriously consider walking and biking as they fund infrastructure projects -- such as the ever widening of Routes 422 and 222 and other streets in neighborhoods throughout Berks County? Then SHOW them. Walk or bicycle to the voting polls on Tuesday, November 4, 2008.

Watch the following BCTV programs to learn more about the 2008 candidates...then WALK THE VOTE!

Better yet? Call in during the next forum...and ask the candidates what they will do to improve Complete Streets and Safe Routes to School in Pennsylvania. If you feel "your" candidate is not informed on the issues...take a moment to tell them what you expect in the transportation process.

LWV Candidates Forums
Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008 at 7:00pm
PA House of Representatives, 124th District
Bill Mackey (D), David Argall (R)

Previous Candidates Forums
US House of Representatives, PA 6th District
Bob Roggio (D), Jim Gerlach (R)

PA House of Representatives, 130th District
David R. Kessler (D), Richard C. Gokey (R)

PA House of Representatives, 128th District
John C. Woodward (D), Samuel E. Rohrer (R)

US House of Representatives, PA 16th District
Bruce Slater (D), Joseph R. Pitts (R)Daniel Frank (C), John A. Murphy (I)

PA Senate, District 11
Michael A. O'Pake (D), Stephen P. Fuhs (R)

PA House of Representatives, 187th District
John Ritter (D), Gary Day (R)

The General Election is Tuesday, November 4th
For more information visit VOTE411.org.

Candidates Forums are presented as a public service of BCTV and the League of Women Voters.

What would you tell the FHWA about Transportation? You have less than 60 days to be included in their official report.

Claire stood as the representing member of WalkBikeBerks at a recent FHWA review of RATS. Her thoughtful comments are provided so that you too may participate in the transportation planning process. Please do not miss your opportunity to write to Kathy Dimpsey of the FHWA and express your comments for the official record. (See the closing of Claire's notes.)
_________________________________________________________

I attended the meeting of the Federal Highway Administration last Wednesday, October 22nd, at 633 Court Street. The purpose of the meeting was to review the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the City of Reading. The first hour of the meeting was open to the general public. However, I was the only person representing the general public. Everyone else present in the first hour also stayed for the second hour, which was only open to public officials. If for no other reason, I feel it was good that at least one person spoke about the importance of including walkers and bikers in all transportation planning. I truly think that walkers and bikers are not even on the radar of many transportation planners. Although I was able to speak for several minutes about the many benefits of sidewalks and bike lanes, I did sense that a few people wanted to get of to the "real" transportation problems concerning roads. In order to make public officials aware of the financial value of including walking and biking issues as part of the transportation plan, I mentioned the 2010 proposal, which is a plan that other cities are seizing in order to take full advantage of an opportunity to apply for $50 million for improved pedestrian crossings, bike lanes, and sidewalks. To my amazement, no one seemed too interested. People at the meeting were talking about prioritizing and lack of federal funds for transportation problems, but from the enthusiasm shown about the 2010 proposal, I might as well have said $50, instead of $50 MILLION. Ann Arbor is one of the cities applying for this funding, and my son attended a meeting there last week about this very proposal. The mayor conducted the meeting, the university community provided huge support, and many people from the general public attended the meeting. Reading seems to be lacking the support, enthusiasm, and/or expertise to be included in this unbelievable, golden opportunity. I don't understand the lack of interest in $50 million. For anyone who is interested in seeing the plans of other cities who have submitted proposals for the 2010 goldmine, the following link shows the plans of about 50 cities.http://www.railstotrails.org/whatwedo/trailadvocacy/2010Campaign.html The rest of the meeting addressed Route 222 construction, bridge repairs, strobe lights in traffic signals, the R-6 railroad extension to Reading, and safety issues connected with railroad crossings.Before I left the meeting, I was given a book about Smart Transportation for Michele. One of the officials (sorry, I didn't get his name) apologized for not reading Michele's statement at the meeting, but he assured me that her statement would be included in the official notes.If anyone wants more information about the meeting, he or she can contact Kathy Dimpsey at Kathy.Dimpsey@dot.gov. Kathy is a Transportation Planning Engineer for the U.S. Department of Transportation; Pennsylvania Division. Kathy said that the public has 60 days to submit comments regarding Reading's transportation plans, and these comments will also be included in the official report.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Exeter Township will Pursue Grant Money for Walking and Biking

10/21/2008
Last Update: 10/21/2008 4:05:00 PM
Exeter Township to pursue grant money for recreation
Several Exeter Township supervisors expressed interest Monday in pursuing grant money to make the township more accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists.Background: A new Pennsylvania Department of Transportation initiative will give out $60 million to promote "smart" transportation, said Michele Barrett, president of WalkBikeBerks, a nonprofit group pushing to make Berks County more inviting to bicyclists and pedestrians.Each project can get up to $5 million, including $300,000 for planning, she said at a workshop for the township supervisors and planning commission members.Exeter could add trails to an upcoming revision of the township's park and recreation plan and can add the information into the next subdivision and land development ordinance, zoning officer Cheryl Franckowiak said.

To Read the Full Article: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=110654

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Philadelphia Bicycle News: PennDOT Shuffles Bike Ped Coordinator Position

Philadelphia Bicycle News: PennDOT Shuffles Bike Ped Coordinator Position

Every now and then, a blog post is so good that it needs to posted here as well. Thanks John Boyle for this thoughtful post. I strongly urge WBB readers to consider your posting.

~Michele

Letter to FHWA evaluation of RATS, October 22, 2008

Dear Sirs:

WalkBikeBerks is overall very pleased with the opportunity to voice public comments regarding the transportation process in Berks County. Our mission is to make walking and bicycling practical, convenient, and safe transportation and recreation options for all citizens and visitors of Berks County, Pennsylvania.

We envision an intermodal transportation system that enriches quality of life and strengthens the community by providing mobility for all, regardless of motor vehicle ownership, age or ability. Regional planning that includes bicycle and pedestrian transportation spurs community interaction while protecting the open spaces and unique characteristics of this area for future generations.Our positive partnerships with area government entities and other organizations perpetuate on‐going bicycle and pedestrian improvements through engineering, education, encouragement and enforcement programs.

We deeply appreciate that Michael Golembieski and Lori Lencheski joined us at a special meeting of our members (open to the public) to discuss the Berks County Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plan. They were kind and thorough, and we feel as if we gain tremendously from their conversation with us. We also deeply appreciate that Glen Knoblauch attended a Concerned Citizens of Exeter Township meeting to discuss the history of the Berks County Greenway, Park and Recreation Plan. That time was also very informative and provided us with a good understanding of the process that has been devoted to creating these visions for our county.

Our organization represents members throughout the county, including business men and women, municipal leadership, educators, media, trail and bicycle enthusiasts, children, elderly, disabled residents -- virtually all ages in a diverse ensemble of the public who are working together to create better walking and biking in our transportation system.

We promote Complete Streets and Safe Routes to School as our two primary campaigns. To that goal, we must request that more is done in Berks County to create Complete Streets so that children (and all users) have Safe Routes to School (and work, worship, play). We request that the PennDOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Strike-Off Letter SOL 432-0702 be made public and transparent -- that every single municipality be fully trained and educated about this Pennsylvania State-Wide Complete Streets Mandate. Currently, it is our finding that most municipal leaders are not aware of this document, so infrastructure projects are being completed without adhering to this mandate. Furthermore, we request that specific projects receiving Federal and State funding be required to accommodate all users -- that bicycles, pedestrians, and mass transit be implemented into every construction project.

We are disappointed that the construction projects on Route 422 do not accommodate pedestrian and bicycle safety in such a way that invites all (even the most vulnerable) users to cross the widening roadway that divides so many communities in Berks County. Projects in Exeter, Sinking Spring, Douglassville and other communities will now create a greater divide, reducing our access in our own home towns, forcing us into our cars for trips less than 1/2 mile from our homes.

We are, however, very pleased with the new PennDOT Smart Transportation Initiative. We are hopeful that the new program and the funding of $60 Million in Pennsylvania will provide the incentive to our county and local governments to address the needs of all modes of transportation and prioritize pedestrian safety above all other modes. We are deeply grateful to Mr. Alan Piper and Mr. Michael Golembieski for working so hard to address our questions in a timely and professional manner. Both men have been open and friendly to us in our effort to represent the public. We simply hope for greater involvement in the years to come.

There are some specific projects which must be mentioned:
Route 10 from Flying Hills to Penske is a danger zone for pedestrians and cyclists.
Old Route 22 in Hamburg must be retrofit with pedestrian and bicycle accommodations.
Route 422 is our economic corridor in Berks County -- but is dividing communities and weakening our quality of life rather than improving it.
Secondary roads, such as 47th Street in Exeter Township could serve as pedestrian and bicycle corridors to alleviate the congestion and demands of 422 if sidewalks and bicycle access were constructed during (rather than later) major TIP and TIF funded projects.
Bicycle racks on mass transit, and throughout community business districts, will promote cycling as a primary mode of transportation.
We hope to see a Greenway Coordinator hired for our county so that the Greenway Plan may be implemented as it is intended.

Thank you for your time and attention to our requests today.
Sincerely,
Michele D. Barrett, President
WalkBikeBerks
PO Box 6795
Wyomissing, PA 19610

http://walkbikeberks.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Why Walk to School?

"The Safe Routes to School Academy Grant has been a wonderful addition to our Wellness program at Mt. Penn and the Antietam School District. It has focused us to the education and encouragement of pedestrian safety and the benefits of daily exercise. It provided funds that enabled us to kick off a two-year initiative that will improve our community. The help from Walkbikeberks has been wonderful, and I would encourage anyone who has the ability to support walking to school to investigate their own grant."

~Michele Bleacher,
Assistant Principal of Mount Penn Elementary Center
and Wellness Coordinator

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tell Congress to support walking, biking and transit in the 2009 Transportation Bill.



Transportation Bill
Right now, Congress is getting ready to write the new 2009 Transportation Bill—an opportunity that only comes along once a decade.We need your help to create more walkable neighborhoods.

Please forward this petition to your friends who support walking, biking, and transit:http://www.walkscore.com/transportation-bill.shtml

The 2009 Transportation Bill is a once-in-a-decade opportunity. Walk Score will hand-deliver the list of supporters to Congress on foot, on bike, on bus, and on subway.

Thanks for your support!
The Walk Score Team
http://www.walkscore.com/

80% say YES to Walking!

80% of voters polled say, YES!

The community is in favor of the Township attempting to complete a network of walkways for better pedestrian traffic.

Joint Workshop
6:30 Tonight
Sidewalk Connectivity
Exeter Township Supervisors and Planning Commission
DeMoss Road, Exeter

If you support creating better walking and biking in your community, attend a local government meeting this month and simply ask. If you want help working with your local leaders, contact WalkBikeBerks.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

RiverPlace Invites you to a ride -- Today at 1:00

Oct. 18 - Bike Ride
Join us this Saturday for a leisurley fall foliage group bike ride on the RiverPlace Trail system. We'll start at 1:00 p.m. from West Reading's newly revialtized Bertolet Landing park, and riding along the Schuylkill RiverTrail past solar-powered lights, the RACC Bridge, Kerper's Landing, the RACC campus, Entertainment Square, Dana Memorial Park, Baer Park, Confulence Point Park, Stonecliffe, Gring's Mill, Red Bridge and return. Along the way, you'll see recent completed improvements and the sites of upcoming developments including the GiggleWorks at Palmer Children's Mueseum, RiverView at Reading, Entertainment Square, boat launches, archaelogical digs, and shad restoration sites. There are now over 30 miles of interconnected trails at RiverPlace (For a free color color trail map click here) but we'll only ride as much as time allows before dinner. Anyone who'd like to ride at a faster pace or in a different direction is welcome to join us at the start, then leave and rejoin us later.
A 5:00 p.m. dutch treat casual dinner is planned at nearby Brewer's Pub, Third and Cheasnut Streets in West Reading, reservations suggested. For those who'd like to make a night of it, a movie at the IMAX theatre is an option after the dinner.
Click Here to register so we can send you details and directions, and notify you if weather forces a cancellation.

NEW: PennDOT's Smart Transportation Guide

Directly from PennDOT's very own website. Thanks to Alan Piper from Reading Area Transportation Study for making this known.

What is Smart Transportation?

Smart Transportation is partnering to build great communities for future generations of Pennsylvanians by linking transportation investments and land use planning and decision-making.

The ultimate goal of Smart Transportation is to create transportation facilities that are safe and affordable, responsive to the needs of all users, and support community planning goals.


Accommodate all modes of travel: An efficient transportation system should consider the infrastructure necessary to support all modes of travel, including walking, bicycling, transit, and private automobiles. This is especially important in an era of $4 gasoline, when many of our families are spending 30% or more of their income on transportation. Download case studies here.
Will Smart Transportation cost more than what we do today?
When Smart Transportation strategies are done early and consistently throughout the planning, design, and implementation stages of a project, Smart Transportation will cost less than most conventional transportation solutions. The key is to identify opportunities for cost savings by making sure that existing infrastructure investments are taken care of, that project needs are clearly understood and defined, that we use flexible design, that high-value/low-cost projects are prioritized, and that opportunities for sharing resources (across jurisdictions and across agencies) are used.
In some select instances, the upfront costs of Smart Transportation projects might seem to be slightly more expensive than short-term quick fixes, but the longer term cost savings and quality of life returns of a comprehensively thought-out Smart Transportation solution will be far more substantial.

Where can I find more information?
The Smart Transportation Guidebook provides technical guidance for standards and approaches related to traffic engineering and design. This website touches on the various aspects of Smart Transportation, provides information on where to access technical planning and design information related to it, and includes project examples illustrating how Smart Transportation can be applied.
Each PennDOT office has a contact person for Smart Transportation issues and questions. In Central Office, the main point of contact is Brian Hare, Division Chief of the Design Services Division. He can be reached at 717.783.6418, bhare@state.pa.us. Within each of the district offices, the contact person is the ADE for Design. Click here for your District’s ADE for Design.

Friday, October 17, 2008

POLL and COUNT

ONLY 26 more 'unique' visitors and we'll reach our goal of 1000 NEW readers before October 20. Keep sending your friends.



The Exeter Township sidewalk poll count is climbing. Now, more than 80% of voters say YES, build sidewalks and connect us!

Have you voted yet?

http://www.co.berks.pa.us/exeter/site/default.asp

Finally -- if you have not yet marked your calendar, do so now. The FWHA wants to talk to you next Wednesday about Transportation in Berks County. What do you have to say? Write or call and let us know so that we can express your voice for you. Better yet? Attend the meeting yourself. Call Michele at 610-779-9702 for more information.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Your Voice in Transportation Planning

Reading Eagle 10-15-08
Notice Column 25

The Federal Highway Administration & Federal Transit Administration will be conducting public meetings on Wednesday October 22 to hear your comments on the transportation process in Berks County.
1st Session will be conducted from 10 AM to 11 AM for public comment. The 2nd session will he held from 11AM to 12 Noon is intended for public officials

Meetings held Berks County Services Department 14th Floor 633 Court Street

Additional information contact Alan Piper or Michael Golembiewski 610-478-6300

Our Mission
We envision an intermodal transportation system that enriches quality of life and strengthens the community by providing mobility for all, regardless of motor vehicle ownership, age or ability. Regional planning that includes bicycle and pedestrian transportation spurs community interaction while protecting the open spaces and unique characteristics of this area for future generations.
Our positive partnerships with area government entities and other organizations perpetuate on-going bicycle and pedestrian improvements through engineering, education, encouragement and enforcement programs.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Southern Berks News Covers Walk to School

Posted on Tue, Oct 14, 2008
Antietam School District students walk to school
By Heather Tassmer; News Editor

Antietam school students and community members walked to school on Oct. 8. Even Sadie the dog joined in on the fun.
Antietam students took steps to a healthier day when they walked to Mt. Penn Elementary Center on Oct. 8.The date marked the International Walk to School Day and Antietam's observance was a community effort. At least 100 people participated in the walk.
The community organization, WalkBikeBerks, whose mission is promoting walking and biking safely in Berks County, worked with school and community officials to organize the event.
Michele Barrett, president of WalkBikeBerks, gave a lot of credit to Mt. Penn Elementary Assistant Principal Michele Bleacher.

http://www.berksmontnews.com/WebApp/appmanager/JRC/Weekly;jsessionid=gp6PL1VN7GvM51njQx3JrQcd9MS2QCynqnGjl0FzKBc7FShXzrf2!-147845757?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=pg_wk_article&r21.pgpath=%2FBMN%2FNews%2FThe+Southern+Berks+News&r21.content=%2FBMN%2FNews%2FThe+Southern+Berks+News%2FContentTab_Feature_2511901

Build Schools in Neighborhoods where Children Live

Walkability and School Siting Policy are on the verge of colliding. Across the nation -- and certainly within our own county -- school districts are faced with renovating, restoring, or replacing aging buildings. Yet, the economy, environment, wellness of children, and increasing school property taxes are HOT topics in this election year. How can schools meet the needs of the children and still serve the greater public? Many districts are building on precious farm land, overlooking the current movement toward Smart Growth for "cheap" land purchases to build expansive school campuses. Research through the Environmental Protection Agency, Smart Growth Alliance, and many other resources suggest the overall costs of such land development are too high -- intensely harmful to our environment, economy, quality of life, and in direct correlation to sprawling development. I propose that they seek the choices that are most obvious -- renovate or build additions on their current buildings. If either is absolutely impossible or impractical, replace existing buildings with a new facility on the same lot -- AND IN WALKABLE, ESTABLISHED NEIGHBORHOODS WHERE CHILDREN LIVE. I sent the following content to a list of decision makers -- including residents of Exeter Township who are voters and do have the power to make decisions for their own community.
____________________________________________________________________

The Millmont Elementary and Science Magnet School at 300 Carroll Street, Reading is an example of a walkable neighborhood school that employs the principles of Smart Growth in its design and function. The new school is a 62,542-square foot building on an 89,406-square foot (2.05 acre) parcel. It will actually be two schools: the top floor will be a K-5 elementary school housing 500 students; and the first floor will be a 6th grade magnet school housing 325 students. Exeter Township School District (like so many other districts) is struggling to find a solution to overcrowding. We can look to examples set by our neighbors in Reading and Antietam who have renovated older schools in established walkable neighborhoods.

The Exeter Township School District Administration Building is located on 3650 Perkiomen on 1.79 acres, only .26 acre smaller than the new school in Reading. If we choose the site for our elementary school, we could house 500 students K-4 there. All of the children who live West of Perkiomen Avenue could attend elementary school in a community-centered location. Beautiful homes in well-established neighborhoods surround this property. Adjacent to the site is a community church with parking to spare. As it stands, 3650 Perkiomen is a historic property that must be renovated or replaced because of its age and disrepair, a ‘brownfield.’ The school district is planning to sell the property to a commercial buyer. The most environmental use of that property would be to choose it now for a new elementary school, one we desperately need. Imagine the cost savings when we do not need to purchase more land but can use a site that already belongs to the district, a site that already holds an elementary school.

We can renovate, add-on, or replace that building, allowing space for 500 students and still have room for a playground and staff parking. There would be no or very little cost to build new streets, traffic lights, or other infrastructure needs. Township Supervisors have agreed to permit a third floor if necessary, so the actual footprint of the building could be even smaller, allowing for more playfields or parking as necessary. This property is the best location in Exeter to serve the school board's own criteria. Mr. Quinter, School Board Member, said he expects new, young families will move into older neighborhoods and homes they can afford, ones just like those surrounding 3650 Perkiomen Avenue – the school he walked to as a child. I agree. Why not build schools in neighborhoods where children live?

A parent who has been very vocal on the school siting issue spoke several times at Supervisors meetings about the walkability of the Bausher’s property, emphasizing the importance of students having walking access to their neighborhood school. I support her in concept because walkability is a key principal of Smart Growth; however, only 100 kids could have potentially walked along Ritter’s Road. All of the children in Reiffton and Crestwood could walk safely to school with this plan. The reuse of this 'brown space' would open the potential for more outside funding from state and federal sources and would address another key principal of Smart Growth.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania School Boards Association …sponsored a publication called Renovate or Replace? The Case for Restoring and Reusing Older School Buildings. The booklet features essays by Gov. Rendell's top cabinet officers, arguing that renovating older schools can save tax dollars, reinforce established communities, and still provide facilities that meet 21st-century educational standards. “The Public School Code … was amended in 2005 to provide an extra state reimbursement to school districts that renovate schools. The extra reimbursement also applies to additions to schools. If a school is brought up to "green" building standards, the district will receive yet another subsidy bonus” (Hylton, Lessons in Economy p2).

Several papers were available requesting parent input and comments at the door as we entered the recent parent forum. The school board requests our opinion on these matters. If you have an opinion, now is the time to share it. The board and administration expect to make a decision before December and to begin the project as soon as possible. It is my opinion that building our new school at 3650 Perkiomen Avenue is the best plan for our community.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sidewalks for better pedestrian traffic

On the Exeter township website, http://www.co.berks.pa.us/exeter/site/default.asp, they have a poll with the following question:

Are you in favor of the Township attempting to complete a network of sidewalks for better pedestrian traffic?

Pass this around and PLEASE VOTE YES!!!!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Money Saving Tips for Thrifty Families

Normally, there's lots of chatter online when someone catches a great media spotlight that shows how we absolutely can walk or bicycle -- to the grocery store! Here, on the greatest media outlet in the world -- the Oprah Winfrey Show -- one mother totes FIVE children to the grocery store on bicycles! YES WE CAN! (Mothers -- we can get out of our minivans!) If you missed the episode, check it out now. Not to be missed!


Money Saving Tips for Thrifty Families: "Kristi got tired of paying high gas prices, so she decided to put her entire family on bicycles. Her two older children can pedal themselves, while the three younger kids sit in bench seats attached to her bike."
From the Oprah Winfrey Show

Congressman Gerlach, Representative Santoni, Commissioner Leinbach, Senator O'Pake, Mayor Nowotarski ALL Support Walk to School Day

On October 8, 2008 -- Senator O'Pake, Congressman Gerlach (pictured -Left), Representative Santoni (pictured -Left behind Gerlach), Commissioner Leinbach, Mayor Nowotarski and the Lower Alsace Township Supervisors walked to school to celebrate International Walk to School Day with WalkBikeBerks and the Mount Penn Elementary School.

We appreciate their support of Walk to School Day!


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Workshop Meeting in Exeter Township

Oct 20, 2008
Workshop Meeting

Workshop between the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission to discuss Township sidewalk needs.

Location: 4975 DeMoss Rd

6:30 PM

Phone: 610-779-5660

Walk to School NEWS

Reading Eagle:
"Walk to School Day at Mount Penn Elementary Center was held in cooperation with WalkBikeBerks, a nonprofit group that works to make Berks County more inviting to bicyclists and pedestrians."We want the children to value that 30 minutes walking to school regularly," group President Michele Barrett said. "And WalkBikeBerks hopes ... that there is a countywide interest at each school, so that every school says, 'We can do this. It can be safe.' "More information about WalkBikeBerks is available at www.walkbikeberks.blogspot.com."

http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=109079

Channel 69 News - Berks Edition

POSTED: 10-08-2008 08:21 PM ET MODIFIED: 10-08-2008 08:22 PM ET Walk To School Day Promotes Healthy Life Style

"Walk To School Day Promotes Healthy Life Style"

http://wfmz.com/view/?id=548582

"In school districts everywhere, childhood obesity is up and so is the cost of transportation. Those two things may not seem to be related, but some leaders think both would improve if more students would walk to school. WFMZ's Joel D. Smith takes us through it, step by step. Reporter: It's a parochial parade.

( Video won't play? CLICK HERE for some helpful suggestions )


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Philadelphia Bicycle News: October 10 - Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day

Thanks for the post share, BCGP!

Philadelphia Bicycle News: October 10 - Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day

Fall Safe Routes to School Academy Grants -- Now Available

PANA Mini-Grants Fall 2008

Go Here to Apply: http://www.srtsacademy.org/grants/mini-grants-fall.cfm

The Safe Routes to School Academy provides a two-year mini-grant program to support partnership development and coordinate planning and evaluation of SRTS efforts around schools that include grades up to 8th.

Capacity Building Mini-Grant ($5,000)
Includes seed money plus a technical assistance provider to guide partnerships through the development of a thorough SRTS action plan.

Education and Encouragement Mini-Grant ($5,000)
Includes seed money for communities with a basic infrastructure already in place that need assistance promoting and educating parents, kids and community members on walking and biking to school easily and safely.

Mini-Grant Application Timeline
Mini-Grant Applications due by Nov 19, 2008
Winners will be notified by letter December 2008
Winners’ letter of agreement and collaborating entities agreement due Jan 23, 2009

WALK TO SCHOOL -- Every Day!

Go beyond your Walk to School event to support safe walking and bicycling all year long with Safe Routes to School programs. New Federal legislation has recognized the value of ongoing walking and bicycling and is providing funding for states to establish programs.

Find out why Safe Routes to School matter
Learn more about what's happening in your state
Example Safe Routes to School activities

Monday, October 6, 2008

Candidates Forum by BCTV & League of Women Voters

LWV Candidates Forums
Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2008 at 8:00pm
US House of Representatives, PA 6th DistrictBob Roggio (D), Jim Gerlach (R)

Previous Candidates Forums
PA House of Representatives, 130th DistrictDavid R. Kessler (D), Richard C. Gokey (R)
PA House of Representatives, 128th DistrictJohn C. Woodward (D), Samuel E. Rohrer (R)
US House of Representatives, PA 16th DistrictBruce Slater (D), Joseph R. Pitts (R)Daniel Frank (C), John A. Murphy (I)
PA Senate, District 11Michael A. O'Pake (D), Stephen P. Fuhs (R)
PA House of Representatives, 187th DistrictJohn Ritter (D), Gary Day (R)

The General Election is Tuesday, November 4th
The deadline to register was Monday, October 6th
For more information visit VOTE411.org
Candidates Forums are presented as a public service of BCTV and the League of Women Voters.
http://www.bctv.org/