Friday, January 25, 2008

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

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