Why even take the lane?


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Thanks to the many who participated in our “postcard petition,” it looks like we may start to see some “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” (BMUFL) signs replacing some of the existing “Share the Road.” signs pretty soon. For the sake of brevity, we won’t go into detail here about why BMUFL signs are better. If you’re curious, here is a good synopsis. Basically, BMUFL is less confusing and, rather than requiring new laws or ordinances, it simply states the current law, but in a way that’s easier for everyone to understand.

That being said, even with the new signs everywhere (which will take a while still) there will be drivers who don’t understand. Questions commonly posed by such drivers are:

“Isn’t it the law to ride as far to the right as possible?”

No - the law states a rider must ride “as far to the right as practicable (safe and reasonable).” On a street with lanes that cannot accommodate a vehicle, three feet of separation as required by law, and a bike rider, “practicable” means, in effect, taking the whole lane…or at least enough to require any passing vehicle to change lanes to pass.

“Why are you even taking the full lane? Isn’t it safer to ride all the way to the right?”

No - Riding all the way to the right is dangerous for a number of reasons:

  • It leaves a bike rider with no room to correct right to avoid roadway obstacles (pothole, debris, etc.) , leaving said bike rider with the options of NOT avoiding the obstacle, leaving the roadway entirely or correcting left in front of a vehicle. All three options carry the risk of crashing. Because vehicles “spray” debris - glass, gravel, vegetation, broken car parts, etc.- to the outside edges of travel lanes, the far right of a roadway is often full of such debris and needs to be avoided.

  • On roads with on-street parking, riding all the way to the right can get you “doored.” This is exactly what it sounds like: a car door being opened up directly in front of you, causing a crash. People in the U.S. haven’t adopted the “Dutch reach” yet, so when they exit their cars after parking on the street, more often than not, they don’t check for bike riders. This unfortunate reality requires bike riders to maintain a safe distance from parked cars.

  • You’re more visible to drivers if you’re taking the lane. Because of what they call in the art world “one point perspective,” if you’re all the way to the right, you blend in with the backdrop and scenery and are harder to see. This effect is greater in the U.S. where the driver’s seat is on the left. If you’re in the lane, to a driver, you are another user of the road, not part of the scenery.

  • Biking all the way to the right can, inadvertently, encourage drivers to try to pass you in the same lane. The vast majority of travel lanes are not wide enough (see first point), and this can lead to crashes or being run off the road. This can also make left turns more arduous, as it adds an additional step - merging left in front of vehicles - to the process. If you’re taking the lane, you’ve already taken this step; plus, the vehicle behind you has already adjusted speed accordingly.

    • Side note: If you find yourself unable to turn left while biking due to cars constantly passing you, consider utilizing the “box turn.” It requires some patience, but in the end is much safer in a high-traffic situation.


So to all the bike riders reading this, taking the lane is not only your right and in accordance with the law, it is often the safest place to ride.

And to all the drivers who find themselves frustrated or angry while being stuck behind someone on a bike who’s taking the lane, please remember:

  • WE DON’T WANT TO BE IN FRONT OF YOU ANY MORE THAN YOU WANT TO BE BEHIND US. We’d rather be in a bike lane or on a trail, but most times, we have no choice due to limited bike infrastructure. Call your elected representatives and tell them more bike lanes and trails are better for everyone.

  • We’re not being inconsiderate, entitled jerks, purposefully holding up traffic because, technically, the law says we can. We’re simply trying to be safe, so please…cut us some slack, be patient and change lanes to pass.

Cheers!


November Newsletter

Hi Bike Folks!

We wanted to thank you for a great October and let you know about everything we’re getting up to in November.

Events

Saturday 11/16/19 - Front Yard Bikes BBQ Battle - Come out to eat, drink, dance and raise money for a great organization!

Sunday 11/17/19 - Cranksgiving! - It’s our 5th Annual Cranksgiving food drive/scavenger hunt benefiting the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank.

Friday 11/22/19 - White Light Night - We’ll be rocking our info booth at Tim’s Garage on the corner of Government St. and Mouton.

Friday 12/6/19 - Ugly Holiday Sweater Ride - Light up your bikes, don your ugliest holiday sweater and ride with us downtown for the tree lighting ceremony.

Public Meetings

There are a lot of moving pieces to the effort to create better bike and pedestrian infrastructure in Baton Rouge. We do our best to keep everyone informed, but we need your help when it comes time to let public officials know what is important to us.

Tuesday 11/5/19 - Imagine Plank Road - Master Plan presentation. See what the future of Plank Road could look like.

  • 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM CST

  • The Valdry Center for Philanthropy at Southern University 598 Harding Boulevard, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70807

Tuesday 11/19/19 - Old South Baton Rouge - Councilwoman Wicker’s Infrastructure Town Hall - Lots of projects happening in OSBR - Terrace Street, Nicholson, MoveBR, I-10, etc. More details to follow.

  • 6:30 PM CST

  • Water Campus

Wednesday 11/20/2019 - Interstate 10 widening project public meeting

  • 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM

  • Baton Rouge Marriott - 5500 Hilton Avenue

Other Stuff

  • We were honored to be able to participate in the Ward Creek Bridge ribbon cutting ceremony. The Ward Creek trail now stretches from Bluebonnet to Siegen Lane Marketplace, with additional segments coming in the near future. We hosted a ride from City Park to the new Ochsner’s facility. The only stressful part was crossing Perkins Road at Perkins Road Park. Please take a minute and email DOTD to let them know there needs to be a safe crossing here.

  • The Pedestrian-Bike Master Plan process is winding down, with a finished plan soon to be unveiled. With your input and support, Bike BR has been involved the whole time and we feel you’ll see this reflected in the final document. Stay tuned…

  • We’re attempting a new partnership with LSU - with both the student senate and the Facilities division - to improve bike/ped safety in the Nicholson/Burbank corridor, in light of recent tragedies there. We’ll keep you informed as new developments occur.

  • Bicycles May Use Full Lane postcard petition- We are attempting to get the city/parish to replace the current (and confusing) Share the Road signs with Bicycles May Use Full Lane signage, which is clearer for bike riders AND drivers. We’ve sent over 75 post cards from members and friends to the Traffic Engineering division of the city/parish.

  • Light the Night Program - With your membership dues and other private donations, we’ve given out over 500 sets of bike lights to different human service non-profits and law enforcement, with the goal of getting everyone seen and safe while biking at night. Thanks to all who helped make that happen!!

That’s about all for now. Thanks to all who continue to stay involved and to everyone who helps make Baton Rouge a better place to ride.

#Yeah Bike

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I-10 Widening Project....Making sense of it all

For those who may not know, the LADOTD is embarking on a $1.1 billion (used to be $350 million) project to widen the interstate from the downtown bridge to the 10/12 split. Needless to say, this will have drastic consequences for how people get around Baton Rouge for decades. It’s important we voice our opinions whenever possible to make sure that accommodations for bikes and pedestrians are preserved and enhanced. Here are some helpful links and bike/ped specific information:

Project website

PUBLIC MEETINGS

  • November 19th, 5:00 - 8:00 PM

    West Baton Rouge Parish Conference Center- 2750 North Westport Drive
    Port Allen, LA 70767

  • November 20th, 5:00 - 8:00 PM

    Baton Rouge Marriott - 5500 Hilton Avenue
    Baton Rouge, LA 70808

PLEASE make an effort to attend one of these.

Environmental Assessment - This is basically all the project’s technical information. It’s a very large document with a ton of information. As you can see, there is a lot to like about it, such as the addition of some paths and bike/ped access. There is also a lot that is unclear, such as what happens to certain streets/areas during years of construction. However, the mere fact that DOTD has included consideration for non-motorized users is a big win. We thank you for your engagement so far and urge you to stay engaged in the process as you’re able to. Below is some bike/pedestrian specific language taken directly from it. (By the way, “No-Build Alternative” is their name for the current configuration).

From: SUMMARY OF PERMITS, MITIGATION, AND COMMITMENTS

1. LA DOTD has committed to implementing CSS (Context Sensitive Solutions) and CC (Community Connections) in the vicinity of the Perkins Road ramps including but not limited to the extension of Greenwood Drive, a multiuse path from the Perkins Road Overpass to Perkins Road near the Acadian Village Shopping Center, new parking areas, restoration of existing parking areas under I-10 and under the off ramp to be removed, and additional green space

2. LA DOTD has committed to implementing CSS and CC in the form of a multiuse path or greenway to run from 10th Street at Expressway Park to Dalrymple Drive within existing right of way including access to East Polk Street Park and a pedestrian crossing at March Street and Dalrymple Drive.

3. LA DOTD is considering implementing CSS and CC in the form of a multiuse path connecting Expressway Park via existing sidewalks and streets to the South Boulevard levee trailhead.

4.LA DOTD has committed to the construction of a “signature bridge” at this location (Nairn Drive). The signature bridge will have pedestrian and bicycle accommodations as well as decorative screening and possible rest areas or bump outs.

3.10.3 Pedestrian and Bicycle Concerns

The No-Build Alternative will not involve construction in the immediate short-term; therefore, it will neither provide for nor interfere with pedestrian and bicycle routes.

The Preferred Alternative is proposed with elements that are in accordance with area master plans either developed or under development for pedestrian and bicycle improvements and LA DOTD Complete Streets Policy. Specifically, this project will create a multiuse path to connect Expressway Park to Dalrymple and preserve connectivity for non-motorized users between streets that SPN H.004100 EA – CHAPTER 3.0 2019 1018 Draft EA Rev5.2 3-68 currently pass under I-10. Lighting and landscaping will enhance the proposed and existing routes. Crosswalks will be restored and/or included to ensure Complete Streets compliance.

Crosswalks will also be installed in accordance with LA DOTDs Complete Streets policy along Acadian, which will allow pedestrians and cyclists travelling on the east side of Acadian to cross to the west side for safe crossing of the I-10 ramps and to cross between restaurants and businesses located on both sides of Acadian. Additionally, these new crossings and trail could be incorporated into a larger vision to connect Acadian to Nairn Park, where safe crossing of I-10 can be accomplished over the new Nairn bridge.

Removal of the Perkins ramps will allow for the extension of Greenwood Drive and a new multiuse path from the Perkins Overpass area along the new extension to the Acadian Village shopping center and Perkins. Presently, there is no dedicated pedestrian or bike path to link the Perkins Overpass with the restaurants and shopping areas of the Perkins Road Arts District and Acadian Village and Acadian-Perkins shopping centers.

The Nairn bridge over I-10 will be replaced under the Preferred Alternative. As proposed, the new bridge will accommodate a multiuse path on the east side and a pedestrian only path on the west side. Both paths will end in proximity to where bridge lanes return to grade (ground level), allowing East Baton Rouge Parish to connect the multiuse trail with the existing trail leading to the Foreign Language Academic Immersion Magnet School and future connectivity with a new sidewalk on the west side.

3.18.2 Environmental Consequences

The No-Build Alternative (status quo) would not change the present development pattern of land use categories in the project study area, neither would it provide support or connecting facilities for bike and pedestrian improvements in concert with the following master plans:

• PlanWEST

• East Baton Rouge Parish Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan

• Baton Rouge Lakes Master Plan

• Baton Rouge Phase II/Baton Rouge Master Plan

• Master Plan for the Baton Rouge Health District

October Newsletter

Hey Bike Folks!

We’ve got a full month coming up!

  • October 15th - All members meeting (open to the public as well).

    • 6:30 PM at the Guru, 1857 Government Street.

  • October 19th - Halloween Parade! There are still some slots left if you want to ride. The theme is: Let’s Get Physical as we Sweat to the Oldies, ‘cause we’re Maniacs on the Floor! (80s aerobics). Meet at 3:00 PM at Caneland Distillery.

  • October 27th - Velo De Los Muertos! Come on a bike tour of several historic cemeteries around town. Sign up here. (it’s free). Meet at 9:00 AM at the corner of 4th Street and Spanish Town Rd.

Looking forward to November…

Meet the Board - Thomas Douthat

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Where are you from?

I was born in Charleston, West Virginia, but I grew up in Montpelier, Vermont. I have also lived almost a decade in Puerto Rico. During graduate school my wife and I lived in Athens and Atlanta, GA. Since then we have been migrating southwest, with a stop in Pensacola, before Baton Rouge.

Tell us a little about yourself…

I have a law degree, and a PhD in City and Regional Planning from Georgia Tech. My expertise is in multi-jurisdictional and multi-scalar governance, law, and policy. However, I have always had a passion for urbanism, and the dream of living in a walkable and bikeable community in the United States. These are in short order, which has brought me to start working and advocating for safe streets more directly. Atlanta and Athens had lots of existing momentum, although progress has been slow beyond a few marque projects. I really got more involved in Pensacola, especially around the issue of street design and pedestrian traffic.

I am now faculty in Environmental Sciences at LSU, and live in the Garden District with my wife, and two children. We feel lucky to be in Baton Rouge, and we love it here. But no place is perfect, and there are many barriers to walking and biking in Baton Rouge.


What do you love about biking?
I love cycling, both as a means of transportation, and in the spandex warrior sense. Being on a bike allows one to explore and interact with cities in a convenient and fun way. One can see so much and also feel very connected to place. My love of biking is really an extension of my love of walking, and grew out of the desire to go a little further without getting in a car.


What would you like to see biking in Baton Rouge look like in the future?

In my vision of utopia, we would re-focus around Complete Streets principles, and recognize that parking should neither be free nor mandated by law.

My more practical goal is for Baton Rouge to have reasonable cycling connectivity among its activity centers, and for the central parts of the city to make progress so that one day it will be safe for my kids to bike to school or the store.


To do this, I think it is necessary to shift the conversation about traffic and transportation in Baton Rouge to one where at least in principle we invert the priorities pyramid to so that EBR recognizes the health, community, and environmental benefits of putting pedestrians and cyclists first. I think inserting this perspective into infrastructure decisions in our region is the biggest contribution we can make, but to do that we first have to convince our neighbors.


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