Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Response to Your Letters

DATE: January 31, 2008
Subject: Complete Our Streets
From: Tucker Ferguson, PE
Acting District Executive
Engineering District 5-0

Dear Ms. Barrett:

On behalf of Governor Rendell, I am writing in response to your email and interest in promoting integration of pedestrian modes into the routine transportation and planning design processes. The PennDOT Strike Off Letter 432-07-02 you referred to in your letter, provides for the Commonwealth's formal commitment to the accommodation of Bicycle and Pedestrian needs on all Federal or State funded projects as well as Permit projects programmed (initiated) after May 1, 2007.

Please be assured that PennDOT takes seriously its role in promoting the mobility of Commonwealth citizens by means other than motor vehicles. The vision statement of the recently enacted Bicycle Pedestrian Plan is: "Pennsylvania a place where residents and visitors of all ages can choose to bicycle and walk. People are able to bicycle and walk with confidence, safety and security in every community, both for everyday transportation and to experience and enjoy the remarkable natural resources of the state."

My office will be pleased to work with your organization and the new Exeter Township Task Force on this important transportation matter. As you may already know, all Department and Permit (development) projects are reviewed and commented on by Exeter Township as a part of our standard procedures. Municipal input on state highway projects is carefully considered prior to final project approval or permit issuance.

Statewide goals for the Bicycle Pedestrian Plan are to: 1) Double the percentage of trips by foot and bicycle by the year 2015; and, 2) Reduce the number of fatalities among bicyclist and pedestrians to a level corresponding to the national highway motor vehicle fatality rate reduction goal.

The current federal transportation act is the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient, Transportation Equity Act – a Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). It requires that all transportation modes be fully integrated into all phases of transportation planning and design, that bicycle and pedestrian safety be given elevated importance, that intermodal links be provided, and that system connectivity is a paramount goal. The Department fully subscribes to these goals.

PennDOT will also continue to work with the Metropolitan and Rural Planning Organizations as well as its consultants to assure that the needs of those who commute by a means other than motor vehicle are accommodated in all projects.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Route 222 closed near Blandon after pedestrian struck

Last Update: 1/26/2008 11:01:00 PM
Route 222 closed near Blandon after pedestrian struck

Reading Eagle

Blandon, PA - Route 222 is open again after it was closed Saturday night following a fatal pedestrian accident just south of Route 73. A southbound sport utility vehicle struck a man walking across Route 222 about 100 yards south of the intersection in Maidencreek Township just before 7 p.m., police said.

It's About Life, It's About Respect

As we (new members) of Walk Bike Berks embark on this new journey together let us not forget what we espouse in our Vision, above all, that we seek "quality of life". The end result of our purpose is not as much about better roads, eduction, and intermodal transportation as it is about the respect of life. While the end result of what we hope to achieve will result in tangible goals the means to achieving them is about the intangible and being respectful to each other and those we meet. After all. . . if respect for life had truly been considered in all it's meaning we wouldn't need to organize.
So I set this challenge to us all. As we go about our fund raising, setting programs and networking with organizations and local governments let's be a "respector of life". It's our means and it's our goal for Berks County.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Thank You

Today, in the Upland Community Center Room of Alvernia College, I had the pleasure of meeting some of Berks County's finest people. They were passionate, knowledgeable, experienced members our community who truly believe in the possibilities of our beautiful county. After three hours of very focused work, WalkBikeBerks moves forward with a new board of directors, an approved mission statement, established vision, and temporary bylaws. The session closed with members breaking into committees to brainstorm next steps. Their full reports will be posted on the yahoo listserv in the upcoming days.

It has been a long, exciting day. Before I rest, I must extend my thanks to those of you who participated today. I sincerely appreciate all that you have done...including the time you donated today. I feel blessed and look forward to the work ahead. I am impressed with our collective body and can finally take a breath. I now know that you are in this with me and that together we can make a difference. Thank you for your support and contributions. I am honored to have the responsibility you have offered me today.

Walking, Biking Could cut Obesity, Global Warming, Experts Say

In a little-noticed scientific paper in 2005, Paul Higgins, a scientist and policy fellow with the American Meteorological Society, calculated specific savings from adopting federal government recommendations for half an hour a day of exercise instead of driving.The average person walking half an hour a day would lose about 13 pounds a year. And if everyone did that instead of driving the same distance, the nation would burn a total of 10.5 trillion calories, according to the scientist, formerly with the University of California at Berkeley. At the same time, that would cut carbon dioxide emissions by about the same amount New Mexico produces, he said.

To Read the Full Article in the Reading Eagle, go to:

Friday, January 25, 2008

WITF with Tim Lambert

Berks Bike Backers form new group 01/25/2008Tim Lambert(Reading) -- A new group is forming in Berks County with the goal of making walking and bicycling more practical and convenient. "WalkBikeBerks" will be a non-profit organization that reaches out to municipalities to help make walking and biking a safe transportation and recreation option for all county residents. Founder Michele Barrett of Exeter Township says she hopes the group can convince officials to create policies that support walking and biking infrastructure. She says she looks at the work as a quality of life issue. 03589_mbarrett2.mp3 Barrett says "Walk Bike Berks" plans to adopt bi-laws, establish its mission and elect officers at a meeting tomorrow at Alvernia College. It is slated to run from 2:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. and is open to the public. For more information, call 610-779-9702 or email

Make Us Want to Stay, Students Say

Under a Thun Award Grant, 35 young people tell what it would take to make communities into places where they would want to live.
By Mike Urban, Reading Eagle

If Pennsylvania wants to hold onto its young people, it better start listening to them.

Many referred to West Reading's Penn Avenue business district as the ideal that other Berks municipalities should aim for a clean place where people can safely walk between locally owned entertainment venues, shops and restaurants.
The session was funded through the recent $5,000 Thun Award Grant provided by David L. Thun of Lower Heidelberg Township. Thun, who is involved with several organizations committed to improving Pennsylvania, said he wanted the students to learn about how they could better their communities and state, a lesson they don't often get in school. “It's time we give the young people an opportunity to tell us something rather than just the adults,” he said. Among the speakers were Amy Liu of the Brookings Institute, who showed just how quickly Pennsylvania's young people are moving out of the state, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Thomas Hylton of Pottstown, who issued his plea for comprehensive planning to save cities, towns and countryside.

To Read the Full Article, go to:

Can Reading become ‘Bike Friendly Community’? Yes!
By Darrin Youker
Reading Eagle

"But of all the sights, sounds and excitement from the race day— it was a brief conversation that I had with a fellow cyclist that stayed with me the most.
I interviewed Emily Weidner of Temple specifically because she was walking around with a bicycle.Weidner biked in that day from Temple to take in the event. I rode in from my house in Laureldale— one of the few times I can actually bike to work.Weidner was enjoying the competition— but she dreamed of what Reading could become— a city that embraces cycling year-round.
Turns out, there’s a program called Bike Friendly Communities run by the League of American Bicyclists which recognizes municipalities that have made steps to become bicycle friendly.That includes programs like motorist education— improved roadways, and even bike-only paths on busy roads.No city in Pennsylvania has been named a cycling-friendly city.
'Let’s be first!' Weidner said."

Berks County friendlier for Walkers, Bikers

The organization hopes 100 people attend a meeting this weekend and join their efforts to promote riding and hiking trails between communities.
By Erin Negley, Reading Eagle

Michele Barrett wants people in Berks County to have the option of leaving their cars at home when they head to work or other daily activities.Barrett recently founded WalkBikeBerks, a group that will try to make Berks more appealing to pedestrians and bicyclists.The group plans to meet Saturday at Alvernia College to select officers, write a mission statement and set broader goals.The 2 p.m. meeting in Alvernia’s Upland Community Center is open to the public.Barrett hopes 100 people will show up to become founding members.“What we really want to do is make walking and bicycling practical, convenient and safe transportation and recreation options for all citizens of Berks County,” Barrett said.Barrett expects the organization to ask local municipalities to adopt transportation and land-use policies that encourage sidewalks, bicycle paths and walking trails.

Connecting neighborhoods with walking paths and shared hiking or biking trails can improve residents’ quality of life and mobility, she said.The effort will also help people stay active and exercise more, she said.The group doesn’t envision building sidewalks everywhere. More rural areas might instead have road markings for bicycle lanes, for example, Barrett said.The hope is to develop an interconnected system of sidewalks and paths to allow people to bike or walk to work.Since forming in November, WalkBikeBerks has about 20 people actively involved.Barrett wants to recruit more members, start talking about how to obtain funds and eventually hire a staff member.•Contact reporter Erin Negley at 610-371-5047 or

Save Money and Reduce Stress, Ride the Bus

This just makes sense. With rising gas prices, congested work hour traffic on 422, and increasing intolerance between drivers, choosing alternate modes of transportation to get from one place to another is necessary. We support public transportation as another mode of travel. Ride the bus.

To Read the Entire Reading Eagle Article, go to:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

*Agenda: January 26, 2008

100 Founding Members
2:00 – 5:00
Upland Community Center Room #103
Alvernia College, Reading, PA
Facilitator: Michele Barrett

  1. Introductions
  2. Report of Activity
  3. Nominations for Board
  4. Mission, Vision, Value, Goals
  5. Bylaws – review and acceptance
  6. Legal Incorporation Status and Progress, Jeremy
  7. Financial Status and Progress
    Giftworks, Pat Weaver of Missions Research
  8. Projects: rank and rate
  9. Action Teams: assign and break off (strategy)
  10. Next Steps for Action Teams (report action plan)
  11. Establish Meeting Schedule/Place
  12. Adjourn

*subject to revision if necessary

Please feel free to bring your own refreshments with you.

Monday, January 21, 2008

200 Letters Campaign

Everyone is a Pedestrian.

Our goal is to have 200 letters reach the offices of those making decisions and writing policies -- to specifically request Complete Streets and Safe Routes to School in Berks County. Deadline: March 1, 2008. It is best to email AND to fax a letter to the men listed below:


Feel free to use any part or all of the form letter provided:

Dear ____________:

Please work with WalkBikeBerks to create safer streets for all users in Berks County, PA. We are at a critical point where our streets will undergo significant changes in the months and years to come as we grow and develop as a county. Please support us in new policies and funding. In addition, I would ask that you contact PennDOT on our behalf to express your concern for our safety and quality of life. Ask PennDOT to retrain their engineers to create streets for all users, making people (not cars) their first priority in traffic design.

WalkBikeBerks seeks to ensure that our streets will be Complete Streets and that our county can rely on Safe Routes to School. We want our communities safe for all users, even the most vulnerable citizens -- children, elderly, poor, and disabled. We want those people who cannot or do not drive (who represent more than 30% of the total population) to be able to move about freely and independently. We also want to reduce our own dependence on automobiles to travel from our homes to amenities in our neighborhoods. We want cleaner air, healthier children, and safer streets. We also want a better quality of life.

I am asking that you do whatever you are able to ensure that all land use policies and development projects that come to Berks County adhere to the PennDOT Strike Off Letter SOL 432-0702 and coincide with the Berks County Greenway, Parks and Recreation Plan, the Berks County Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, and the Federal Highway Administration's Bicycle and Pedestrian guidelines. Berks County can have thriving, vibrant, walkable communities, if we choose to make them so. Please make it a priority to Complete The Streets of Berks County.

Thank you.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Pedestrians and Cyclists Needed


Exeter Township has a vacancy on the Historical Commission and the alternate position on the UCC Appeals Board. Anyone interested in serving on either board should send a letter of interest and resume to:

Troy Bingaman - Manager
Exeter Township
4975 DeMoss Rd
Reading, PA 19606

Please call 610-779-5660 for any questions you may have.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mark Fenton

Save the Date!
Creating Connections between Trails and Health Workshop

Tuesday, March 4th
8:30AM – 3:00 PM
Penn State Great Valley Campus, Malvern , PA
This workshop will bring together trail advocates, planners and managers, health and planning professional and physical activity promoters for the first time ever in the Delaware Valley to share information and foster collaboration.

Mark is a nationally recognized transportation engineer and public health consultant, author, and pedestrian and bicycle advocate. An inspiring and entertaining presenter, he will provide an overview of the health issues facing most communities and address how trails and recreation fit into the nationwide focus on policy and environmental change.


Getting Started Working with the Health Community
Trail Basics for Health Professionals
Who Are We Building These Trails for Anyway?
Beyond the Basics: Trail Planning, Zoning and Working with Developers
Trail Lessons Learned
Trail Management and Low-Maintenance Solutions

This workshop is being offer by the following partners:
Activate Chester County
Bucks County Planning Commission
Chester County Planning Commission
Delaware County Planning Department
Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission
Fairmount Park Commission
Montgomery County Parks and Heritage Services
Montgomery County Planning Commission
National Park Service
PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR)
PA East Coast Greenway Alliance
PA Recreation and Parks Society (PRPS)
Schuylkill River Greenway Association
The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia

We encourage you to forward this announcement to others that may be interested. If you have any questions, please contact:
Carolyn Wallis, DCNR at (215) 560-1182,
or Jody Giardina, YMCA of the Brandywine Valley at (610) 643-9622 x102,

Friday, January 11, 2008

October 2008

Ideally, each district in Berks County could participate in this year's annual International Walk to School Day. Together we can bring awareness to the issues related to the safety and health of our children by encouraging our school districts to implement Safe Routes to School. Let's RALLY in 2008 and work for EVERY district to participate in International Walk to School Day:

Monday, January 7, 2008

100 Founding Members

Saturday, January 26
2:00 -- 5:00
Alvernia College
Upland Community Center Room (#103)
540 Upland Avenue, Reading

From Route 10, turn on Upland Avenue and go 4 blocks, The Upland Center will be on your left.
From Lancaster Avenue, turn right going towards Reading or turn left coming from Reading on Noble Street. At Upland Street, turn left and the Upland Center will be on your right.

Please join us as we formalize our mission, goals, and programs to Complete the Streets for Berks County.

Please call 610-779-9702 or email to RSVP.

To join our county-wide conversation:

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Take Steps to Lose Weight

Walking can not only reduce your body weight and increase your heart rate, but it can "heal" your brain? Take a look at this Reading Eagle article on the importance of just taking a walk through your own neighborhood.