Transportation officials are trying to reduce barriers to walking and bicycling in Berks County and are looking for your input about the best ways to achieve those goals. In June of this year, the Berks County Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plan Advisory Committee, convened by the Reading Area Transportation Study (RATS), began preparing the draft Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plan. This document, once adopted, will guide municipalities, developers, non-profit organizations, PennDOT and the public in developing, promoting and enhancing the bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure network in Berks County.
In one way or another, many of us have the opportunity to walk or bike on a daily basis. We travel back and forth to work, school, shopping, medical appointments, bus stops or recreation activities. Many of those trips are short distance trips that are now, for a variety of reasons, made by car instead of on foot or by bike. For many people in our area, travelling by foot or bicycle is their only way to get around.
“Reducing the number of those short trips would go a long way in improving roadway congestion, air quality, and the overall health of the community,” said Michael D. Golembiewski, a transportation planner with the Berks County Planning Commission.
The process of developing the Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plan started in June, 2018, with the convening of the Advisory Committee. Members of the Committee were selected to represent users of the walking and bicycling network and included representatives of Berks County Planning Commission and Parks Department, Alvernia University, Reading Recreation Commission, Spring Township, Wyomissing and West Reading boroughs, Schuylkill River Heritage Association, Berks Nature, the Berks County Bicycle Club, and others. Committee members met in June and October, 2018 to kick-off the process to evaluate a range of options for improving and expanding the bicycle and pedestrian network throughout Berks County. The results of the Committee’s work will be incorporated into the draft Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plan tentatively slated for release in Fall, 2019. The overall goal of this Plan is to make recommendations that will ultimately result in improvements to the County’s bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
An online survey (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Berks_Bike-Ped_Survey) has been created to gauge the public’s perceptions and experiences in walking and bicycling in Berks County. A Spanish-language survey (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Berks_Bike-Ped_Survey-Spanish) is also available. These surveys will be available until January 25, 2019, after which responses will be tallied and the Committee will begin drafting recommendations that will take survey responses into account. Paper surveys may be obtained from the Planning Commission by calling 610-478-6300 or by stopping by our offices at 633 Court Street, 14th Floor, Reading, PA.
The Reading Area Transportation Study (RATS) is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization for Berks County. It is charged with assessing the transportation needs of our area (both highway and public transportation), preparing the Long Range Transportation Plan and the Transportation Improvement Program. Additionally, RATS prepares a variety of individual studies that help to formulate the Long Range Transportation Plan and Transportation Improvement Program. These plans then guide the activities of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and BARTA.
Copies of the current Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plan can be found on the Berks County Planning Commission’s website (www.co.berks.pa.us/planning), or may be requested by phone at 610-478-6300 or email at [email protected].