Wednesday, December 31, 2008
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
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.
Monday, December 29, 2008
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:
Sunday, December 28, 2008
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
TONIGHT: December 22 -- 7:00 PM
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:
Thursday, December 18, 2008
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.
Monday, December 15, 2008
by Sarah Goodyear on December 10, 2008
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.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
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.
Reading should be bike-friendly city
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
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
Contact: Michele Barrett, President
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
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 email@example.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/.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
"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. "
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.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Complete the two page application. Submit by December 15. Create better -- walkable, bikable -- transportation in Berks County!
Monday, December 1, 2008
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.
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
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 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
Daily updates on smart growth issues can be found at www.smartgrowth.org/news/webnews.asp
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Please visit http://www.saferoutespartnership.org/mediacenter/6621/188598 to view the SRTS National Partnership’s November 2008 E-newsletter.
Safe Routes to School National Partnership
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
Berks County Planning Commission
633 Court St. FL 14
Reading, PA 19601-4302
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!
Saturday, November 8, 2008
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
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
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.
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!
What to know before you vote
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
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
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.
To Read the Full Article: http://readingeagle.com/blog.aspx?bid=4
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
October 29, 2008
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
Berks Community Television - Your Channel To Your Community - Archives
Correction: Please note the mailing address for WalkBikeBerks is:
PO Box 6795
Wyomissing, PA 19610
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Michele D. Barrett, President
PO Box 6795
Wyomissing, PA 19610
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Assistant Principal of Mount Penn Elementary Center
and Wellness Coordinator
Monday, October 20, 2008
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
The community is in favor of the Township attempting to complete a network of walkways for better pedestrian traffic.
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
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.
Directly from PennDOT's very own website. Thanks to Alan Piper from Reading Area Transportation Study for making this known.
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.
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.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
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?
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Congressman Gerlach, Representative Santoni, Commissioner Leinbach, Senator O'Pake, Mayor Nowotarski ALL Support Walk to School Day
We appreciate their support of Walk to School Day!
Thursday, October 9, 2008
"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."
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"
"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
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
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
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
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