In 2003, the Borough of Pottstown became the first Pennsylvania municipality outside of Philadelphia or Pittsburgh to reduce travel lanes on a major street, also known as a road diet. The project included back-in angle and bike lanes. And this happened largely thanks to the advocacy of Tom Hylton, a former reporter for the Pottstown Mercury, founding member of 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania and author of Save our Land Save our Towns.
Fifteen years later, the borough is constructing a two-way protected bike lane to connect Pottstown High School with the east end of town. It is only the third protected bike lane built in Pennsylvania outside of Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, the other two are part of the Great Allegheny Passage in Munhall, and in Connellsville.
The Protected bike lane along Jackson St, Beech St, and Roland Ave, will connect Pottstown High School with the east end of town. Also happening soon will be the extension of the High St. Bike lanes. The center turn lane will be eliminated and replaced with buffered bike lanes. These projects are part of the implementation of the Pottstown Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan:
Schuylkill River Trail
At the same time, Montgomery County is finishing up a new section of the Schuylkill River Trail along Industrial Drive is nearly complete. It is a barrier-protected sidepath and will extend the existing trail east to Moser Rd.
The Keim Street Bridge over the Schuylkill River was closed to traffic in 2010 and will be demolished in 2019. It is closed to all traffic including bicyclists and pedestrians but it’s still physically possible to cross and into Kenilworth in Chester County.
The new bridge will have sidewalks but saving this old bridge for the trail appears to be a missed opportunity. Instead the Schuylkill River Trail will be included with the completion of the new Route 422 bridge which is currently under construction.
Pottstown has its own transit system. Pottstown Area Rapid Transit (PART) operates full-size buses with bike racks and feature higher quality bus shelters than you typically see on suburban SEPTA routes. The buses connect downtown Pottstown with its suburbs of Sanatoga, South Pottstown and Stowe. All PART buses connect with SEPTA’s Route 93 bus to the Norristown Transportation Center.
A Regional Outdoor Destination
Pottstown has embraced the trail town concept and is getting itself ready for the completion of the Schuylkill River Trail.
The existing Schuylkill River Trail continues west as a gravel path out to Berks County. In 2016, PA DCNR opened the first section of the Big Woods Trail in a new section of French Creek Station Park. Take the SRT west from Pottstown for 6 miles and turn left for a rather unique 2 miles of switchbacks which climbs about 300 feet in elevation to Crusher Rd with views of the Schuylkill River Valley and Monocacy Hills. Eventually the Big Woods Trail will continue into the main section of the Park and on to Hopewell Furnace.
Bike Pottstown offers the use of their yellow bicycles for free! Persons 16 years or old can borrow a bike for the day with a photo ID.
Take it Outdoors Adventures operates the Pottstown Rental station in Riverfront Park from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The outfitter rents kayaks with shuttle transportation. One interesting package they offer is a “Pedal and Paddle” excursion that allows you to bicycle up the Schuylkill River Trail and kayak back to the start point. They also have a limited number Bike Pottstown Yellow Bikes available.
So if you can’t make to some of Pennsylvania better known trail towns, such as Wellsboro, Ohiopyle or Jim Thorpe, consider visiting Pottstown.
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