Fall Newsletter: It's a long one....but please read

Hey bike folks!  It's been a busy summer with a lot going on!  Since we don't do email blasts often, the ones we do are full of info!  So please...read til the end.  

Bike the US for MS is a non-profit raising money and awareness  for Multiple Sclerosis.  A group of them will be biking from California to Florida and are stopping through BR Oct 14 - 16.  They need places to stay.  If you can host some riders on 10/14 and 10/15, please contact them.   Also, there will be fundraiser for their sister organization at Radio Bar on Sept 15 from when doors open til 9 pm. Facebook event for that is here

Halloween is a comin'!  If you'd like to volunteer to help lead the Pumpkin Pi Race - Oct 27, 7:30 AM, please sign up here (4 people needed).  If you'd like to ride in the Halloween Parade downtown on Oct 27 - 4:00 PM, please sign up here.  We'll coordinate a costume theme prior to the event.  We try to get between 10 - 20 people.

Cemetery Ride - Velo de los Muertos! is a really fun ride where we see many of the historic cemeteries around town.  It's a slow, easy-paced ride.  Bring your cameras, water and snacks!  

Front Yard Bikes - FYB just finished its awesome bike rim igloo sculpture by the Knock Knock Children's Museum.  The Capital Heights Social Ride will be swing by there this Wednesday to check it out.  Also FYB at Mid City will now be open on Mondays from 12 - 6 to accommodate increased demand. 

Capital Cyclery - Capital Cyclery is now in Gonzales too!  Very awesome to see Cap Cyc generating enthusiasm for biking to our neighbors to the southeast!    

Infrastructure update:

  • the path alongside River Road, from the Florida Blvd trailhead at the levee going north to the Hollywood Casino has reached substantial completion! 
  • Construction on the missing section of the Levee path from Farr Park to Ben Hur was scheduled to begin last week.  It did not.  We're trying to get more information on a new projected start date.  Project is slated to take one year once started.  Once finished, there will be 13 miles of car free continuous path alongside the Mighty Mississip!  Pretty cool stuff.
  • The Gardere Lane project is seeking its last bit of matching funding from the Metro Council, which is meeting 9/26 to discuss.  Please take time to contact your Council Member and voice support and if you are able, to attend the public meeting on 9/26.  
  • The streets connecting Southdowns and Woodgate/Pollard neighborhoods are just about complete!  There is one small section (a design element, perhaps) that is missing by N. Pointer Ct. but other than that, it is now possible to ride (on asphalt) from Southdowns to Kenilworth without ever having to use Perkins or Highland.  Very exciting.

Interstate 10 widening project - as many of you have heard, DOTD is planning to widen the interstate from the "new" bridge to the 10/12 split.  They've already had their round of public meetings, but they've extended public comment period until 9/12.  PLEASE write in, asking them to keep the bike/pedestrian design elements they have included thus far and add bike/pedestrian elements they've so far omitted, such as sidewalk along the east side of S. Acadian and along College Dr.  DOTD has a habit of including nice design elements to garner public support for projects only for those elements to be eliminated later in the project due to faulty cost projections.

MOVEBR - the Mayor's office and DTD is pushing a new sales tax that will fund road projects for the next 30 years.  The public will vote on it in December.  Details of the plan can be found here.  The list of projects included in the document will NOT change.  As a 501c3, we won't say whether or not you should support it, but please do familiarize yourself with the details of the plan so you can make an informed choice in December.

Cranksgiving!  November 17, City Park - We'll send out another email closer to the event, but please save the date!

Light the Night - Thanks to all of you, we raised enough $  to buy 1000 light sets!  So far we've given out a little over half to the following organizations:  Front Yard Bikes, Open Air Bike Repair, Capital Area Alliance for Homeless, St. Vincent de Paul, It Takes a Village, BRPD, LSUPD... plus, some regular folks have volunteered to be Bike Light Ambassadors and are giving out lights to people they see riding at night.  If you'd like to be an Ambassador, please contact us - info@bikebr.org.  

Yeah Bike! t-shirts - we still have a few of the Yeah Bike! limited edition t-shirts left, awesomely designed by a grant from Giraphic Prints.  If you haven't gotten yours yet, there's still time!  

 LCI Certification - Would you like to be a League Certified Bicycle Instructor?!  There are dreadful few of them in this area.  Go here to register for Traffic Safety 101, which is a prerequisite.  Click here to register for LCI training.  There are even scholarships available to the first few who sign up!  Registration closes 9/14.

Critical Mass is Back!  Though not an official Bike Baton Rouge event, Critical Mass meets the last Friday of every month at 5:45 at the LSU Clock Tower.  It's a really fun way to start the weekend and a great way for bike riders to make ourselves "big" enough that we can ride anywhere in the city safely.  

 Next meeting - Our next All-members, open meeting will be Thursday 9/20 at 6:30 PM, location TBD.  If you've got a good space for about 25 people to meet in relative quiet and perhaps enjoy an adult beverage, or if you have agenda items, please let us know- info@bikebr.org.

Phew!! You made it.  Thanks to everyone for wanting to be involved and for being awesome in general!  Yeah Bike!!

Designed to Fail

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Does it ever seem like certain streets and intersections were designed to be dangerous for those who walk and bike?  Well....they were.  Maybe not intentionally, but they most definitely were.  In many cities across the county, transportation officials, planners and engineers are figuring out ways to make their cities more hospitable to those who walk and bike.  As we've mentioned many, many times, this approach is a great investment.  Why are some cities making such great strides when Baton Rouge remains stagnant?

It all comes down to this: finding ways to accomplish things versus finding reasons not to.  

There exist a number of road design guidelines and regulations that engineers cite when explaining why there can't be a crosswalk where it's needed, why your neighborhood can't have traffic calming measures or why there are speed limits of 45 or 50 mph in the middle of dense urban neighborhoods.   Engineers will argue that they can't institute design reform, as that would compromise "level of service" or "capacity."  Level of service for whom?  Capacity for whom?  Well.... guess.  

These regulations result in arterial roadways with very high traffic speeds that are virtually impossible to cross safely on foot....neighborhood streets with hundreds of cars traveling too fast....successful bike/pedestrian improvement demonstration projects that are rolled back or never made permanent....and needlessly dangerous streets, making Baton Rouge one of the most dangerous cities in the country for people who walk and bike.  

Click the box below to see which regulations both at the local and state level are hindering efforts to advance the Complete Streets mission.  It doesn't have to be this way.  Guidelines and regulations can change.  And if Baton Rouge is going to become a safer, more enjoyable place for people to walk and bike, they'll need to.  Soon.

**An earlier version of Designed to Fail included outdated information on parking minimums.  Most of the reforms we called for have already been implemented in recent years.  More on that in a later report...

 

 

Summer Newsletter. Lots happening!

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Hey all, first off, thank you SO MUCH to all of you who renewed their memberships in 2018.  We literally cannot do this without you, so thanks again for your continued support!  And thanks to those who came out and/or donated to our fundraiser.  We raised enough money to produce our Economic Benefits Report which we've given to as many influential people as we could in the hopes of showing how investing in biking is a slam dunk investment for our city.  Please feel free to send it to anyone and everyone.  

We're having our next open meeting for all members Thursday July 26 at 6:30 PM at Front Yard Bikes at Mid City, 2560 Government Street.  Seating will be a little limited so if you have a folding chair you can bring, that'd be helpful.  We will have some refreshments but feel free to BYOB or snacks.  (adult beverages are welcome) In case you can't make it but still want to be involved...

1. If you haven't already, help out our efforts to create the best possible Ped/Bike Master Plan we can by filling out a survey, marking up the interactive wikimap or providing general comments.  Click here to access the site's new features.  These interactive features will be live until August 6th.  

2. Help the good folks at Culture, Recreation and Tourism as they seek public input about the Recreational Trails Program.  This program is responsible for creating and funding a lot of the bike infrastructure you probably use all the time.  We want bike folks and Baton Rouge to be well-represented in the survey's results.  Click here to provide input.  

3. We have some great ideas that we need help bringing into reality.  We are in need of people with certain skills who would be willing to donate some of their time to help us with some projects.  Specifically, we need graphic designers and video editors to help us improve and expand the ways we get our message out to the public.  If you know of anyone who has these talents and might want to put them to use making the city a better place to live, please put them in touch with us.

4. Most of you probably heard about the tragic death of Councilman Buddy Amoroso who was killed riding his bike in East Feliciana.  Buddy was an avid bike rider and a good friend to bike riders in Baton Rouge.  What you may not have heard is just days before, a bike rider was killed in Amoroso's district on Sherwood Forest Blvd, a pedestrian was critically injured on Old Jefferson Hwy and TWO people were hit at the same intersection on Florida Blvd just two days apart, one of whom died.  There is a sense of urgency that we're not seeing from our city's leaders to improve conditions for those who walk and bike.  

The latest proposal for a sales tax to fund road construction projects reflects this lack of urgency.   Please take the time to contact the mayor's office and the metro council to let them know people who walk and bike are not second-class citizens, and we need our priorities, our laws and our built environment to reflect this.  We need our existing facilities maintained.  We need more bike lanes, more sidewalks and more paths.  And if roads are widened, as they're sure to be, we need our Complete Streets Policy to be followed so that All those who pay for and use our roads are accommodated, not just those who drive.  

Hope to see as many of you as possible at the meeting.  Thanks again for your support.  

Yeah Bike!  

Bike Baton Rouge Statement on the death of Councilman Amoroso

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6/30/18, Baton Rouge, LA

Bike Baton Rouge is deeply saddened to learn of the death of councilman Buddy Amoroso after he and his friend Thomas Clement were hit by a car in St. Francisville earlier today. We’d like to extend our deepest sympathies to the families of Mr. Amoroso and Mr. Clement.

Amoroso was an avid bicyclist and an ardent supporter of all things bicycle related. Bike Baton Rouge most recently crossed paths with him at the Pedaling for Peace event, held last weekend, which was was held to bring awareness to the high rates of violence in Baton Rouge and to honor those who have lost their lives. Buddy rode a grey cruiser, and chatted with bicyclists, police officers, and members of the public during the course of the event.

St Francisville and the nearby Tunica Hills are a popular location amongst bicyclists from across the capital region, as the rolling hills, the scenic views, and the low levels of traffic make for excellent biking. Unfortunately, this is not the area’s only bicyclist fatality in recent memory - Elisabeth Oliver, an LSU professor, was killed in June of 2015 on La 952.

We ask - we PLEAD - with motorists to drive carefully, to pay attention to the road, and to stay at home if they’ve been drinking - particularly if they plan on driving around more vulnerable road users such as bicyclists and pedestrians. And we ask that those entrusted to write and enforce our laws - our councilpersons, mayors, senators, congresspersons, law enforcement officials, and traffic engineers - we ask them to step up and help end carnage that affects bicyclists every day in Louisiana and the United States by passing sensible laws and ordinances, by enforcing those laws, and by building better roads that accommodate all road users. 

If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Councilman Amoroso, we can say with certainty, was always part of the solution.

For more information, visit bikebr.org, look up Bike Baton Rouge on facebook, or email Bike Baton Rouge at info@bikebr.org

Mika Torkkola
225 571 2906
info@bikebr.org

Bike Baton Rouge is a local non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization and has been dedicated to making bicycling trips in Baton Rouge safer and more enjoyable since 2006.
 

A little about "freedom"...

 An actual sign that exists, seen here at the intersection of Old Hammond and Airline. 

An actual sign that exists, seen here at the intersection of Old Hammond and Airline. 

Let’s talk a little about the concept of freedom.  It’s the essence of the American Dream, right?  The freedom to do what you want as long as it doesn’t hurt others.  Yeah.  

Freedom is mentioned when discussing all manner of civic and governmental affairs and this includes transportation policy.  Transportation innovations, historically, have all been sold with a big side helping of freedom.  After all, what greater freedom is there than freedom of movement?  When first selling the idea of the automobile, manufacturers were basically selling freedom.  “Go where you want to go!” they said.  There was and is a certain amount of truth to that.  The car lets people get where they need to go… or at least it does now, as transportation systems and entire metropolitan areas were designed and planned around the car.

Here is where that old saying “Freedom isn’t free!” comes in.  A transportation network designed solely with the automobile in mind might make it easier to drive to places (at least for a while) but what happens when the speed limits keep getting higher, when the sidewalks are replaced by turn lanes, when the roads keep getting wider….  One day, we woke up and realize we designed a system where you aren’t free to walk across the street. 

Indeed, at certain intersections, after realizing they’ve been made too dangerous for pedestrians (what people used to call “people”) traffic engineers simply outlawed walking across the street.  So much for freedom.  When you are standing on a road not 100 yards away from your destination, yet you can’t walk there… does that sound like freedom to you? 

The act of walking is the most basic form of transportation.  It requires no money, pollutes no air, endangers no one else and is actually good for you.  (Did we ever mention how beneficial biking is as well?)  Yet in certain parts of our city- and Baton Rouge is hardly unique here- people feel compelled to drive to destinations they could hit by throwing a rock. It’s the height of absurdity.  It’s the epitome of irony as well; we wanted to be free to go places far away very fast, so we traded being able to walk to places located very close.  We traded away our most basic transportation freedom. 

I used the word “trade” so what did we get in return?  More driving.  How many have used the words “trapped” or “stuck” when referring to driving in a traffic jam?  An average American can spend a total of 17,600 minutes (over twelve days!) stuck behind the wheel.  That’s more annual vacation time than most Americans have.  Is this freedom?

One word often used to describe one’s situation vis a vis financial debt is “mired.”  Yes, mired in debt.   Yet, many thousands of our lower-income residents feel they must own a car in order to get around, thus incurring debt to purchase an instantly and constantly depreciating piece of equipment that requires endless funds to run and maintain.  A low-income family being forced to spend 25% - 50% of its income on driving cars is hardly freedom.  It’s the opposite. 

Freedom, true freedom, starts at the most elemental, the most basic.  If we aren’t able to walk to places, if we aren’t able to simply cross the street, are we truly free?  Something to think about.

Click here to tell your metro council member that you’d like more sidewalks, pedestrian crossings and… if you’re in the mood…bicycle infrastructure. 

Doug Moore

President, Bike Baton Rouge