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.

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:

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Winter Cyclist

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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
(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

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


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


"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 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. "

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.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

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

Do Not Miss this Deadline.

December 15.

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


Monday, December 1, 2008


Go to:
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.

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.