Tuesday, April 30, 2013

They've Got Your Back (Pack), and They'll Help Carry Your Water

Free with use....
Blogger's Note: The following came through the digital Notebook in-box recently from Laura Catalano who, when she is not writing freelance stories about the Owen J. Roberts School District for The Mercury, is dashing off copy for the Schuylkill River National Heritage Area, based here in Pottstown.

Bike Pottstown has been lending out its signature yellow cruisers for five years. The Schuylkill River Heritage Area, which runs the popular free bike share program, wants to encourage more people to use the bikes for recreation and transportation.

Beginning May 1, any first time user will receive a free Bike Pottstown water bottle. Anyone using the bikes 10 times between May 1 and September 30 will receive a free backpack.

Bikes are available at Tri County Bicycles on 256 High St., which now has a total of 40 Bike Pottstown bikes. The Schuylkill River Heritage Area also has a limited number of bikes available at 140 College Dr.

Bike Pottstown is a completely free bike share program that has been nationally recognized in the media and among bike share advocates. It is unique in that it does not require a deposit, credit card or any exchange of money.

Anyone aged 16 and over can borrow a bike by providing a driver's license or valid state ID to a program administrator. The bikes can be used for a short period of time or an entire day, but they must be returned by the time the loaning office or shop closes.

“As a National and State Heritage Area, one of our goals is to use recreation to connect people to the Schuylkill River and the communities along it. The Bike Pottstown program has successfully enabled us to achieve that goal,” said Executive Director Kurt Zwikl. “This has been a popular and successful program, and we want to advance its popularity by encouraging more people to use the bikes, either to ride on the Schuylkill River Trail or explore the community.”

Bike Pottstown was initiated in 2008 by the non-profit Preservation Pottstown with 30 yellow bikes that were purchased with funds from the Pottstown Health and Wellness Foundation. Initial start-up costs were also funded by Exelon and the Pottstown Police Officers Association. The Schuylkill River Heritage Area took ownership of the program in 2010, and later expanded it as Bike Schuylkill to the communities of Hamburg and Phoenixville. This winter, an additional 12 bikes were added to the Bike Pottstown program.

The Bike Pottstown program and the promotional materials were made possible through a grant from the Pottstown Health and Wellness Foundation. Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources also supports this program. Free water bottles and backpacks will be available to Bike Pottstown users (not through Bike Schuylkill) through September 30 or while supplies last.

Bike Pottstown operates out of Tri-County Bicycles, located at 256 High St. open M-F 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-5pm. The Schuylkill River Heritage Area offices located near the Schuylkill River Trail at 140 College Dr. also has a limited number of bikes available M-F 8:30-3:30.

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