Big Changes!

Friends, please join us in bidding a fond farewell to our dear friend (or “mate” as he’s known in his native land) to Mika Torkkola.   Calm down, he hasn’t died and he’s not leaving the country, the state or even the city…. He has simply come to the end of his term as President of Bike Baton Rouge.  He will be pursuing other avenues for a time, namely Bike Walk Louisiana and Mid-City Mardi Gras, among others.  He and others will be doing the very important work of pushing for a Vulnerable Road Users Law for Louisiana in 2018. And of course, he will still be a fixture on social rides and in the bike community in general. 

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Bike BR has come a long way during Mika’s tenure.   He took the baton given to him by past presidents and did some truly great things.  In the past couple of years, we revamped the website, started our Light The Night program through which we’ve given out hundreds of bike lights, helped raise literally tons of food for the Food Bank through Cranksgiving, helped with the March for Science, created a city-wide bike route map, conducted safety and maintenance classes, did some trail maintenance, created a super awesome report showing the positive economic benefits of biking (coming in 2018!!), engaged with tons of new community partners…and probably lots of other stuff we’re forgetting.  None of this would have been possible without Mika. 

Bike advocacy can be a frustrating thing in Baton Rouge.  Mika never ceases to remain positive, hopeful and energetic.  What he gets from riding bikes he has given back to the bike community in BR tenfold.  He will be missed.  Well…he’s pretty hard to miss, actually.  How many 6-foot long-haired Australians on bikes do you see around town?? 

Stepping in to the role as President will be Doug Moore, a.k.a. “other Doug.”  Doug will be attempting to fill some very big shoes and will continue to look to Mika for guidance.  Doug sits on both the local and state Complete Streets advisory councils, the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) Advisory Team the Capital Region Safety Coalition Bike/Ped team as well as the Bike/Pedestrian Master Plan’s steering committee and technical advisory committee.  He loves maps, finding routes and spends an inordinate amount of time reading up on traffic ordinances, regulations, standards and guidelines.  He takes very seriously the role of Bike BR representative in meetings, conferences and summits, so if you ever wonder whether or not our members’ voices are being heard by the Powers That Be…rest assured, they are. 

Stepping up as Vice-President is Sarah Schramm.  Sarah is a woman of action and has already shown a tremendous ability to seek out funding and increase Bike BR’s impact on the community.  We’ve no doubt 2018 will be an awesome year for Bike Advocacy and that will be, in large part, to Sarah. 

Stepping down from the board is Michael Domingue.  Mike has represented Bike BR awesomely as the state’s Recreational Trails Coordinator.  If there’s a bike path you’ve ridden on in the State of Louisiana, there’s a pretty good chance Mike had a part in making it happen.   Very few people, if any, have done more for bicycling in the state of Louisiana as Michael Domingue.  We wish him the best of luck in all his future endeavors. 

2017 has been a pretty good year for Bike Baton Rouge.  The goal is for 2018 to be even better!  Specifically, we want Bike BR to focus more on people this year.  We want to be less insular and more outgoing.  In our surveys, one thing we consistently heard is that people want more opportunities to get involved.  We will be less top->down and more bottom->up.  In short…WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! 

What do YOU want to see from us in 2018?  What would YOU like to participate in and/or help organize?  We’re an all-volunteer organization and we’re nothing without our members, so we need help in reaching more people in the Baton Rouge community.  Most of all, we need ideas.  If you want to do a thing, by all means, let us know and let’s do it together!  Bike advocacy, like bike riding, is more fun with more people. 

All that being said, we’d also like to issue a general Call for Volunteers.  Do you have a special skill or resource that you think may help Bike BR in the future at some point?  What kind of skill, you ask…. Great question!  Some services we could definitely put to use are:

·         Photography

·         Video creation/editing

·         Graphic design

·         Grant writing/fundraising

·         Marketing/ Public Relations

·         Having access to a place to hold functions

 

It’s like what Vito Corleone said in the Godfather… “Some day, and that day may never come, I'll call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, accept this justice as a gift on my daughter's wedding day.”  Ignore the second bit.  You get the idea.  And here’s the thing…. We’re a 501c3 non-profit, so the time and work you devote is worth money and can be claimed on your taxes.  We’ve got a form and everything.  You can help us in our mission and save money at the same time!  How cool is that?!

Making Baton Rouge a better place to ride a bike is a journey and not a destination and like all things worth doing, it can be difficult.  But as Albert Einstein once said, “Life is like riding a bicycle.  In order to keep your balance, you must keep moving.”  Cheers to that.

 

Doug Moore

President, Bike Baton Rouge

Bike Baton Rouge Receives Grant Funding from New Belgium Brewery

Bike Baton Rouge received $750 in grant money from New Belgium Brewery to support the Light the Night program for Baton Rouge schools. This program distributes free bike lights and bicycle safety information to schools in Baton Rouge to promote safe cycling.

Bike Baton Rouge volunteers, parents, and children participating in a bike safety class at the Baton Rouge FLAIM School 2016.

Bike Baton Rouge volunteers, parents, and children participating in a bike safety class at the Baton Rouge FLAIM School 2016.

As part of the program, Bike Baton Rouge helps program advocates at schools start a Bike Club, organizes and leads a Bike Safety Day, and provides front and rear bike lights for participating students.

“We are very excited about these funds,” said Sarah Schramm of Bike Baton Rouge. “Promoting safe cycling in Baton Rouge, especially among children, is one of our top priorities. This program works with other efforts in the city to promote safe routes to public places.”

To date, 250 lights have been distributed to students at participating organizations.

Students, parents, and school officials interested in supporting bicycling at their schools are encouraged to contact Bike Baton Rouge at the email below to bring this program to their school.

bikebatonrouge@gmail.com

#NewBelgium

ACTION ALERT : Metro Council to vote on Bike Share funding.

Bike Share station in Birmingham, Alabama

Bike Share station in Birmingham, Alabama

This Wednesday, October 25th, the Baton Rouge Metro Council will vote on whether to provide funding to the Baton Rouge Bike Share, without which the Bike Share will either fail, or be forced to run in a more limited capacity than the currently planned 82 stations and 800+ bikes.

The majority of the funding ($2.1 million of about $3 million) for the Bike Share is set to come from corporate sponsorship and user revenues, with about $850,000 coming from a federal Transportation Alternatives Program grant, of which the city is required to provide a 20% match ($260,000).

The metro council hearing must authorize the city parish to provide these funds.

Using economic analyses of the project and of existing Bike Share programs, such as the Zyp system in Alabama, Bike Baton Rouge estimates that use of the Baton Rouge Bike Share system will generate around $650,000 in economic benefits for Baton Rouge per year, paying for the City-Parish investment swiftly.

To make sure our Bike Share system gets funded, we're asking you to contact your council person and ask them to vote to approve the city-parish to spend this amount to make Bike Share in Baton Rouge a reality. Below, we've provided contact details for all twelve metro council members, a map of our districts, and a template email that you can send to your councilperson.

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Click HERE for a zoomable district map.

Email template :

Dear Councilperson,

On Wednesday, October 25th, the metro council will be asked to vote on the proposed funding of a small portion of a Federal Transportation Alternatives Program grant to help fund a Bike Share System in Baton Rouge. This funding, at $260,000, is less than 10% of the overall $3 million budget for the project, and the economic benefits of the program, which Bike Baton Rouge estimates at $650,000 annually, will see this investment pay for itself in healthier and happier residents of Baton Rouge in just a few months.

I urge you to vote to approve this funding amount.

Yours,

Name
Address


District 1 - Trae Welch
225.389.5170
225.910.2052
council-dist1@brgov.com
lrioux@brgov.com

District 2 - Chauna Banks
225.389.8331
council-dist2@brgov.com
vcarter@brgov.com

District 3 - Chandler Loupe
council-dist3@brgov.com
dpourso@brgov.com

District 4 - Scott Wilson
kkelly@brgov.com
council-dist4@brgov.com

District 5 - Erika L. Green
council-dist5@brgov.com
GGaines@brgov.com
jjamison@brgov.com

District 6 - Donna Collins-Lewis
council-dist6@brgov.com
pamelasmith@brgov.com

District 7- LaMont Cole
225.389.3182
council-dist7@brgov.com
TPHARRIS@brgov.com

District 8 - Buddy Amoroso
225-389-5168
council-dist8@brgov.com
dgoux@brgov.com

District 9 - Dwight Hudson
council-dist9@brgov.com
LALCH@brgov.com

District 10 - Tara Wicker
225-389-5140
225-389-8720
council-dist10@brgov.com
cclark@brgov.com

District 11 - Matt Watson
225-389-5169
council-dist11@brgov.com
mmcwhorter@brgov.com
jtittlebaum@brgov.com

District 12 - Barbara Freiberg
225-389-4697
council-dist12@brgov.com
ggremillion@brgov.com

 

Why did the pedestrian cross the road? Your rights as a pedestrian.

How far would you walk to cross at a crosswalk?

How far would you walk to cross at a crosswalk?

Along a ten mile length of Florida Boulevard, stretching from South Acadian Drive to the Parish line at the Amite River, there are precisely ZERO marked or signalized crosswalks where one could safely and easily cross that stroad. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Florida Boulevard, which at points along that length averages up to 50,000 motor vehicles daily, has been the scene of several recent pedestrian and bicyclist deaths, including one involving a law enforcement officer who was disciplined for speeding moments before the crash.

In most of these cases, the victims of the crashes were blamed for crossing mid-block, something that is illegal per Louisiana State Law.

So, with no marked crosswalks, and with mid-block crossings being illegal - what's a pedestrian to do?

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Crosswalks are 'helpfully' defined by Louisiana State Law as "That part of a roadway at an intersection included within the connections of the lateral lines of the sidewalks, shoulders, or a combination thereof on opposite sides of the highway measured from the curbs or, in absence of curbs, from the edges of the traversable roadway or if there is neither a sidewalk nor shoulder, a crosswalk is the portion of the roadway at an intersection that would be included within the prolongation of the lateral lines of the sidewalk, shoulder, or both on the opposite side of the street if there were a sidewalk or shoulder."

In simpler terms - the crosswalk is the area at an intersection between the sidewalk or shoulder on one side, and a sidewalk or shoulder on the other - OR - the area between where those sidewalks or shoulders would be if they existed.

Note that this definition makes no mention of painted lines or markings - so intersections have legally defined crosswalks (known as 'unmarked' crosswalks) even if no crosswalk markings or pedestrian signalization exists.

With this information, then, comes some pedestrian specific rights and responsibilities regarding crossing roadways.

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1) DON'T CROSS MID-BLOCK BETWEEN SIGNALIZED INTERSECTIONS - "Between adjacent intersections at which traffic-control signals are in operation pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk."

2) YIELD TO TRAFFIC IF CROSSING SOMEWHERE OTHER THAN A CROSSWALK - "Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway."

3) TRAFFIC MUST YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS IN CROSSWALKS - "When traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall stop and yield the right-of-way, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or the roadway onto which the vehicle is turning."

4) DON'T CROSS AN INTERSTATE - "It shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to cross an interstate highway, except in the case of an emergency."

For crossing Florida Boulevard (or any other busy road), then, the advice is pretty clear. You must either a) cross at a marked, unmarked, or signalized crosswalk (available at any intersection); if no signalized intersections are nearby, you may cross mid-block while yielding to motorists; or if at an un-signalized intersection, you have the right of way and motorists must yield to you (but seriously, don't try this - being in the right won't undo the hospital trip, or worse).

Sadly, the simple act of crossing a road can be much harder and more dangerous than it should be, particularly for people of colour, who are less likely to drive, and for whom motorists are less likely to yield to.

Why is crossing a road so complicated? We asked the proverbial chicken and they referred us to this video on the history of jaywalking, and how the automobile lobby conspired to take streets away from pedestrians and other users in the name of 'safety'.

If this strikes you as absurd or foolish, then consider supporting Bike Baton Rouge's efforts to make Baton Rouge a better place to walk and bike by becoming a member.

NOTE : We're not lawyers. We're not legal experts. Sometimes we don't wear pants while we're writing this stuff. Don't take our word (or anyone else's word) for anything. Read the law yourself so that you can be well informed!

Councilwoman Wicker Rides with Bike Baton Rouge

Left to right: Tina Ufford, Councilwoman Tara Wicker, Doug Moore, and Sarah Schramm

Left to right: Tina Ufford, Councilwoman Tara Wicker, Doug Moore, and Sarah Schramm

Bike Baton Rouge board members Doug Moore, Tina Ufford, and Sarah Schramm met with Councilwoman Tara Wicker last week Wednesday, October 11 to discuss bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in Councilwoman Wicker’s District 10. District 10 covers an area from the Mississippi River to an eastern border of Plank Road, St. Rose Ave, and around the University Lakes, south to Gourrier Ave. It includes Southern University, Downtown, LSU and City Park. 

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Councilwoman Wicker and her husband recently have been cycling to some destinations in Baton Rouge and observed first-hand the challenges of navigating the streets by bicycle. Interested in improving conditions for bicyclists and pedestrians in her district, she accepted an invitation from Bike Baton Rouge Vice President Doug Moore to discuss ideas for improving bicycle connectivity in the city and take a 5-mile bike tour in her district.

Although the day was hot, spirits were high, as Bike Baton Rouge pointed out where roads were wide enough for bike lanes, challenges for cyclists who must navigate streets that don’t align, and where bike and pedestrian infrastructure does not connect.

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After the ride, Councilwoman Wicker commented on how much safer she felt riding in a group and taking a lane of traffic compared to when only she is riding with only one other person on the edge of the street. Bike Baton Rouge members noted that it's a common misconception that bicyclists are required to ride as far to the right as possible, and that on streets too narrow to accommodate three feet of distance between a car and cyclist travelling the same direction, taking the lane is often the safest way to ride. (See reference here.)

Bike Baton Rouge left the councilwoman with a map that show where bike lanes exist, where they are under construction, and where they are feasible.  The meeting ended with an agreement to continue pursuing improvements for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and to work with the city to install bike lanes where feasible.

EDITOR'S NOTE :

Two weeks after joining Bike Baton Rouge on this bicycling tour, Councilwoman Wicker made this statement at the October 25 Metro Council meeting regarding the Baton Rouge Bike Share.

"One of the things we found on our tour was that Baton rouge does not have infrastructure necessary for people that choose biking as an option for their mode of transportation, and that's a shame. I should be able to bike my babies through Baton Rouge or go to my Aunt and Uncle's house without having to worry about if I'm going to die in the street.

So if we want to grow as a major city, we need to be able to grow up and look at how major cities are attracting people to their community, and how they're attracting younger people and retaining them. I do believe that having biking as a viable option - if you have infrastructure improvements in place to allow that to happen - is wise, and it's progressive, and it's necessary."