POTTSTOWN >> People can now borrow a bike for free seven days a week in the borough and later into the evening.
Bike Pottstown, the local bike share program, recently extended their borrowing locations from two to three. Manatawny Green mini-golf course which is across the street from Memorial Park now houses the community bikes along with Tri-County Bicycles located downtown and the Schuylkill River Heritage Area office located next to Riverfront Park.
Assistant Borough Manager Justin Keller said Manatawny Green will complement the other bike share locations in Pottstown because now there’s an option to borrow bikes on the western end of the borough. Keller is the former Pottstown area regional recreation coordinator and was part of the decision to add a bike share location.
“It’s not just expanding the location but expanding the access in form of the dates and times that it would be available,” Keller said.
Manatawny Green is the first Bike Pottstown location in the borough that’s opened on Sundays and one with extended hours into the night. The borough-owned min-golf destination is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Keller said Manatawny Green already had staff on site that could checkout the bikes which showed the possibility of future expansions.
“Anyone that has staff on hand can adopt a Bike Pottstown location,” he said.
The Schuylkill River Heritage Area manages the Bike Pottstown program and provides the maintenance of the bicycles. Laura Catalano, communications director for the nonprofit, said the bikes are free to borrow and a credit card isn’t necessary. Anyone 16 and older can use a bike but must provide a driver’s license or valid state ID. The borrower will get their ID back when the bicycle is returned which must be done before that particular bike share location closes for the day. For more information about the actual bikes and the bike share program, visit bikeschuylkill.org/how-it-works.
Catalano said people often use the bikes to ride on the Schuylkill River Trail and use them for transportation throughout Pottstown.
“People ride them to Walmart and I think that location (Manatawny Green), you can easily pick it up and ride it that way,” she said adding that the bikes have baskets which can be used to carry groceries.
“It does definitely serve as a form of public transportation in addition to serving as recreation,” Catalano said.
Catalano said Manatawny Green was a great location for the bike share program because it’s in an area that’s becoming a “recreation center” in Pottstown. She said there are many tourist attractions in that area such as the park, Colebrookedale Railroad and the carousel.
Keller said a bike shelter was specifically designed to help promote the program in the prime location. He said the shelter not only protects the bikes from the weather and possible vandalism but was also created to complement the other structures in the area.
“That’s why it was designed with a nice sign and open windows. It’s nice and inviting. You can actually see the bikes inside the facility as you’re driving by,” Keller said.
He said the expansion of the bike share program happened at a great time considering the progress of Bike and Walk Pottstown. The project is a collaborative effort between the borough and Pottstown School District to repair sidewalks and put in bike lanes so students have safer routes to schools.
“With Walk and Bike Pottstown coming online, we wanted to provide more opportunities for people to get out and use the bike lanes once they’re constructed so we thought it would be good to put this facility in advance of that,” Keller said.
The project, the extension of the Schuylkill River Trail and safety concerns is why Pottstown is moving toward a borough-wide 25 miles per hour speed limit for the most part. In addition, some streets have been changed to one-ways and bike lanes have been extended or added. The entire project is expected to be completed by the spring of 2018.
“The idea is that the bike lanes will touch each kind of neighborhood in the borough so that from your local neighborhood street you’ll be able to connect into the system. Once you’re in the system, you can pretty much navigate anywhere in the borough safely and commute via bicycle,” Keller said.
He said after the project is completed, there will be some type of education offered for students and the community so both motorists and bicyclists know how to correctly use the system. He said the goal is to get people to use the bike lanes once finished but also make sure people feel comfortable and safe doing so.
“I don’t know of any municipality of our size that has a borough-wide bike lane system,” Keller said adding that usually it’s only something you see in larger cities like Philadelphia. “We’re really going to be on the cutting edge here and hopefully we’ll be a template, a model that other communities will look at when trying to implement these projects.”
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Michilea Patterson is the Fit for Life reporter and is funded in part by the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation.