Riding in Baton Rouge - A note on riding on sidewalks

Cranksgiving 2015

Cranksgiving 2015

Can you ride on a sidewalk in Baton Rouge? And should you?

Louisiana state law does not prohibit riding a bicycle on a sidewalk. City ordinance, however, restricts riding on sidewalks in 'business districts', which are defined by Louisiana state law as "... territory contiguous to and including a highway when within any six hundred feet along such highway there are buildings in use for business or industrial purposes, including but not limited to hotels, banks, or office buildings, railroad stations and public buildings which occupy at least three hundred feet frontage on one side or three hundred feet collectively on both sides of the highway."

Uh. What?

We read it a handful of times and managed to condense it down into something a little more manageable. A sidewalk counts as being in a business district when there are a total of 300 feet or more of public or business buildings on either side of the road within a 600 foot length of that road. If you don't have a tape measure with you while riding, then as a rule of thumb, if 25% or more of the roadway is lined with public or business buildings, you're probably in a 'business district'.

Here are a few examples from around Baton Rouge for what these kinds of areas look like.

Business Districts :

3rd Street (1200 feet of public business or business buildings)
Highland Road (900 feet of public or business buildings)
South Boulevard (350 feet of public or business buildings)

Not Business Districts :

Perkins Road (150 feet of public or business buildings)
Jefferson Highway (0 feet of public or business buildings)
 

What does all that mean?

In 'business districts', riding a bicycle on the sidewalk is illegal. Period. Outside of business districts, riding on the sidewalk is legal as long as it's not otherwise signed, and as long as bicyclists yield the right of way to pedestrians and gives audible signals before overtaking and passing such pedestrian. (Note that in this context, letting pedestrians know you're about to pass them is not only mandatory - it's good manners, too!)

If you ARE going to ride on the sidewalk, then there are a couple of other things to consider. The main one is driveways. Drivers who are pulling out of driveways that cross sidewalks expect to encounter pedestrians, who are likely travelling at no more than three miles per hour. If you're pedaling along at ten miles per hour, or more, then you're outside of the area that a driver may look - and could end up being hit as the driver pulls out. You're even more likely to be hit if you're riding on the sidewalk against traffic (on the 'left' side of the road), as drivers will be looking towards traffic to their left as you're approaching from their right.

Take note, also, of the sidewalk condition - which often may be bumpy, cracked, or otherwise hazardous.

If you're riding on the sidewalk use caution at all driveways, and assume that drivers will NOT see you - particularly if you're riding against traffic.
 

When do I have to ride on the sidewalk?

Never! If a sidewalk exists outside of a business district, then if you choose to ride on it, by all means have at it! But you're just as welcome to ride on the road.

Louisiana law does not make use of sidewalks, bike lanes, shoulders, or separated bike paths mandatory at any time, but Baton Rouge city ordinance states that 'Whenever a usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a roadway, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the roadway'.  Note the inclusion of the word 'usable'. If the path is blocked, in a state of disrepair, in any way substandard to the roadway, or otherwise 'unusable' - then you may ride in the roadway if you so choose.

We would argue that given a) the state of sidewalks in Baton Rouge, b) the connectivity of sidewalks in Baton Rouge, and c) the inherent danger of riding on sidewalks as described above, that all sidewalks in Baton Rouge could be argued to be 'unusable' in this context.

(Edit made to the above passage on 4/14/17)

As always, if you're having trouble getting around by bike safely and easily - check out our bike map for the best routes in Baton Rouge!

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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!

PRESS RELEASE : Bike Baton Rouge announce winners of annual Mike Bitton Awards

Bike Baton Rouge announce winners of annual Mike Bitton Awards
4/11/16, Baton Rouge, LA

Bike Baton Rouge today announced the recipients of the annual Mike Bitton Awards that recognize community members who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to make Baton Rouge a better place to bike. The Mike Bitton Awards are named after former LSU student Mike Bitton, who became a spokesperson and advocate for bicycle safety and awareness following a hit and run crash on River Road that left Mike with life threatening injuries.

Award recipients will include Gabby Loubiere Higgins of Brew Ha-Ha, who will be awarded the Bike Friendly Business Award for her long time support of bicycling in Baton Rouge; Kathy Stites and the BREC Capital Area Pathways Project, who will receive the Bike Friendly Professional Award for their leading the way in design and installation of bicycle facilities throughout Baton Rouge; and finally Larry Reilly, former board member and long time volunteer for Bike Baton Rouge, who will be awarded the Mike Bitton Award for his services to bicycling in Baton Rouge, including running the Bicycling BR bike calendar, leading advocacy efforts to create the Dawson Creek bike trail, and more.

“Mr. Reilly is an unsung hero,” said Doug Moore, Bike Baton Rouge Vice President. “His advocacy in helping make the Pennington trails a reality and his civic engagement in general make him an outstanding recipient, and he's a role model for those of us fortunate enough to know him and work with him."

The award ceremony will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday April 19 at WHYR Community Radio (1623 Main Street). Bike Baton Rouge members, non-members and the general public are invited to join Bike Baton Rouge and our award recipients for some fun, food and festivities. More details about the ceremony are available on Facebook.

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

Mika Torkkola
225 571 2906
bikebatonrouge@gmail.com

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.
 

2016 winners (left to right) Gilles Morin, Beaux Jones, Juan Cruz and Dave Cano

PRESS RELEASE : Bike Baton Rouge promotes spring bike safety with tips for motorists and bicyclists

Bike Baton Rouge promotes spring bike safety with tips for motorists and bicyclists
3/21/17, Baton Rouge, LA

Bike Baton Rouge, a local non-profit bicycle advocacy organization, today released a short list of bike safety tips which they hope will result in increased safety amongst bicyclists and motorists sharing the road. Spring sees greatly increased bicycling as the warmer weather and extended evening daylight hours allow for more people to bicycle after work or school.

The last two weeks have seen several bicyclists and pedestrians involved in motor vehicle crashes in Baton Rouge, particularly along Florida Boulevard - a road, that Bike Baton Rouge notes, has no bicycle or pedestrian facilities on a near eleven mile stretch between North 19th Street and the East Baton Rouge Parish border at the Amite river.

Louisiana ranks third in the nation for adult bicycling deaths after Delaware (second) and Florida (first) according to a 2015 study by the Center for Disease Control, but Torkkola says that Louisiana rankings will improve as both bicyclists and motorists become more accustomed to the increased numbers of people riding bicycles in the state.

“We wanted to keep things really simple with our safety tips to give maximum impact from a small and easily digestible amount of information.” said Mika Torkkola, Bike Baton Rouge President, “And we wanted to acknowledge that both bicyclists and motorists have the responsibility to avoid causing crashes on our roads.”

The complete set of Spring Safety Tip graphics are available at bikebr.org/safety, and include tips for both bicyclists and motorists, complete with statistics that show the resulting safety increases associated with correctly following each tip. Each safety tip is based on Louisiana road law.

Read the full list of Spring Safety Tips and learn more about bicycle safety at bikebr.org/safety

Mika Torkkola
225 571 2906
bikebatonrouge@gmail.com

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.

Meet the Board - Sarah Schramm

Sarah is a landscape architect from Wisconsin who brings great enthusiasm and creativity to the Bike Baton Rouge board.

Sarah is a landscape architect from Wisconsin who brings great enthusiasm and creativity to the Bike Baton Rouge board.

Who are you and where are you from? 
I'm a landscape architect/ecologist/adventurer from Milwaukee, WI.

Why do you love bicycling? 
I love bicycling because I love being outside and I like the feeling of speed.  I also like the social and functional aspects of it.

Why did you join the Bike Baton Rouge board? 
I feel like I can be helpful to the organization and I support the mission of Bike Baton Rouge.  A perfect combination!

What do you see YOUR role as with Bike Baton Rouge? What do you do and what are you good at?
Currently I think I help build relationships within the group by reaching out to and engaging with members at the rides and other social events.  I think I could help more in a wide range of capacities including organizing events, researching policy and making hand-outs, finding and applying to grants, and attending local policy meetings.  I'm good at organizing, research, graphics, and writing.

What would you consider the greatest challenge to bicycling in Baton Rouge?  
I consider the lack of connectivity between places to be the greatest challenge to bicycling in Baton Rouge.  There are often few side-roads available to get to different areas outside of a core area in Baton Rouge. The main road options are inhospitable for bicyclists.

What are you and Bike Baton Rouge doing to tackle that challenge?
To tackle those challenges, Bike Baton Rouge attends public meetings to voice support for transportation plans that include bike lanes, bike paths, and sidewalks.  Also, Bike Baton Rouge has been working with BREC to connect neighborhoods with bike paths through city park land.

What will bicycling in Baton Rouge look like in 1/5/20 years time?
With more bike paths and complete streets, and more bike-focused social events, I think we will see more people on bikes in Baton Rouge.

What is does your 'ideal' day of bike riding in Baton Rouge look like?
I wake up early on a sunny, crisp morning, meet up with my pals, and bike to a camp site where we grill out, throw a frisbee, and tell funny stories. Also, there are potato chips.

PRESS RELEASE : Bike Baton Rouge presents #mybikestory week

Bike Baton Rouge presents #mybikestory week
2/16/16, Baton Rouge, LA


A local non-profit organization, Bike Baton Rouge, will next week be holding a social media campaign to help dispel the myth that bicycling in Baton Rouge can be difficult or dangerous.

"Too often, people only hear about bicycling when something bad happens." said Bike Baton Rouge President Mika Torkkola. "We're encouraging folks to help change that perception by letting the world know how fun, how relaxing, or even in many cases, how mundane your average bike ride in Baton Rouge can be."

During #mybikestory week, bicyclists can post stories, photos, and videos of their daily bike rides on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media outlets using the #mybikestory hashtag. Bike Baton Rouge hopes that by hearing more about the experiences of bicyclists in Baton Rouge, potential bicyclists will see that the benefits of bicycling in Baton Rouge greatly outweigh the risks, which are often exaggerated by social media.

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation’s 2016 City Stats Survey found that 39% of Baton Rouge residents surveyed would be interested in riding to work if conditions were safer, a number that has grown from surveys in previous years.

#mybikestory week runs from Monday, February 20th through Sunday, February 26th. Submissions from previous events can be found at bikebr.org/mybikestory, and Bike Baton Rouge will be updating that page regularly throughout the week as well as sharing their favourite stories on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

Mika Torkkola
225 571 2906
bikebatonrouge@gmail.com

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.

PRESS RELEASE : Cranksgiving bike ride combines donation drive and scavenger hunt for a good cause.

Cranksgiving bike ride combines donation drive and scavenger hunt for a good cause.
11/15/16, Baton Rouge, LA

Bike Baton Rouge, a local non-profit organization, is inviting the community to join them for the second annual Cranksgiving bike ride on November 20 at City Park. The event will benefit the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank and will include a special donation to the Baton Rouge Police Department.

“Cranksgiving is a really fun way to get involved and to do some good, and with the flood damage that the Food Bank received, there is no better time to do that,” said Mika Torkkola, Bike Baton Rouge president.

Last year’s Cranksgiving was the first in Baton Rouge, but the event has a long history with its origins in New York City in 1999. In 2015, eighty events were held around the country throughout November.

Cranksgiving participants need only to bring a bicycle, a lock, and about $20 to spend at five grocery stores around Baton Rouge. A map to those stores and a five item shopping list will be provided, and participants will have two hours to make their purchases and get back to City Park. An average participant will ride around ten miles.

A family friendly option of about five miles is also available, and is suitable for riders of all ages.

Registration for Cranksgiving is free and will be open between 1:00 pm and 1:45 pm. At 1:30pm, Bike Baton Rouge will be presenting the East Baton Rouge Police Department with a special donation of bike lights.

“We will donate 500 LED lights to the Baton Rouge Police Department for our continued commitment to help Light up the Night in Baton Rouge,” said Samantha Morgan, board member of Bike Baton Rouge. “We hope this program will continue to educate people about the importance of riding with lights at night, as well as get them in the hands of people who need them.”

On May 20, 2016, Bike Baton Rouge made its first donation of 100 lights to the Baton Rouge Police Department with the agreement that the agency would give the lights to anyone they see riding without lights rather than issuing a ticket. Riding a bike in Louisiana at night without lights is illegal.

Membership fees and private donations have helped pay for a total of 300 lights. But the donation at Cranksgiving will be the largest yet, thanks to a generous donation from a Bike Baton Rouge member and his employer, Exxon-Mobil. 

“At ExxonMobil, safety is always our top value. We’re honored to support Bike Baton Rouge’s efforts to provide additional bike lights to the Baton Rouge Police Department,” explained ExxonMobil Public & Government Affairs Manager Stephanie Cargile. “This donation is the result of hours volunteered by our employees, matched with grants from the ExxonMobil Foundation.”

After Cranksgiving, Bike Baton Rouge will host a dinner and awards ceremony.

Prizes, provided by Bike Baton Rouge as well as local bike stores and restaurants, will be awarded across three categories of riders - Fast, Fun, and Family. While the fastest riders in each category will receive prizes, there will also be prizes for those who spend the most, the least, and those who are the slowest. Bike Baton Rouge says that Cranksgiving is “only a race if you want it to be.”

bikebr.org/cranksgiving
https://www.facebook.com/events/1802618039978521/

Media are invited to preview or cover the event - call Mika Torkkola at 225 571 2906 or email bikebatonrouge@gmail.com for scheduling or information

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.

 

2015 Cranksgiving

2015 Cranksgiving

PRESS RELEASE : Mayoral candidates comment on bicycling in Baton Rouge

PRESS LOGO.png

10/21/16, Baton Rouge, LA

Sharon Weston Broome, Denise Marcelle, Greg LaFleur, Bodi White, and Darryl Gissel’s responses to a five question survey of Baton Rouge’s mayoral candidates facilitated by local bike advocacy organization Bike Baton Rouge were published on Friday morning on the Bike Baton Rouge website at bikebr.org/election2016
 
The responses highlight each candidate’s position on bicycle infrastructure and safety in Baton Rouge as well as their previous involvement in improving bicycling conditions in Baton Rouge. Responses from eight metro council candidates were also included.
 
"As Baton Rouge's bicycle advocacy organization we felt it was our responsibility to make sure each candidate had the opportunity to communicate their position on bicycling issues to our members as well as the general public," said Mika Torkkola, president of Bike Baton Rouge. "And we think the responses do a great job in highlighting what each respondent will be willing to do to make Baton Rouge a better place to ride a bicycle."
 
Candidates were contacted starting October 6, 2016 via email and social media and had until October 20 to respond. Torkkola says that while not every candidate responded to their request, those who did offered genuine and thoughtful comments.
 
Those candidates who did not respond can still do so by contacting Bike Baton Rouge. Their answers will be added to the list once they are submitted. 

Mika Torkkola
225 571 2906
bikebatonrouge@gmail.com

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.

Open letter to Baton Rouge's Mayoral Candidates

[EDITOR's NOTE : The following letter was sent to Baton Rouge's mayoral candidates on October 6th, 2016. Responses to the letter will be published by on Bike Baton Rouge's website on October 21st, 2016. We encourage you to pass the letter below on to those candidates yourself - it is ALWAYS better to have more voices.]


In spite of Bike Baton Rouge's continuous work to ensure the safety of locals, Baton Rouge remains a largely hostile environment to bicyclists. The poor quality of Baton Rouge’s narrow roads makes it incredibly dangerous to ride a bike almost anywhere in the city. Additionally, drivers and bicyclists alike receive little to no education concerning safe practices on the road, which can prove fatal. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDCP) 2015 report, Louisiana ranks third-highest in bicycle-related deaths.

Increasing the conditions for safe bicycling in the city is not solely a matter of improving a recreational activity. Making safe bicycling more common could solve part of Baton Rouge’s traffic congestion problems; it could also provide a cheaper commute alternative. Furthermore, studies have shown that bicycle-friendly neighborhoods attract more economic development.

With the upcoming Mayoral elections, Bike Baton Rouge is committed to ensure that candidates are aware of the city’s lack of appropriate infrastructures and are dedicated to solve these serious issues during their term. To this effect, Bike Baton Rouge asks that all candidates answer the following questions so as to inform voters of their intentions concerning the health and safety of their constituents:

1) Are you aware of Baton Rouge’s increasing bicycling community and their demands for safer infrastructures? 

2) What are your plans regarding the development of safer environments for bicyclists in the city?

3) Baton Rouge has had two bicycle master plans, one in 1974 and the other in 1996; neither were implemented. Will you and your team listen to the concerns of your constituents regarding bike safety and commit to a bicycle/pedestrian master plan? What would be the timeline for implementing this plan?

4) The position of Urban Transportation Coordinator has been left vacant since 2009 in spite of the fact that it is already budgeted for. When will you fill that essential position?

5) Bike Baton Rouge is committed to ensuring the safe access to bicycling on roads across the city. North Baton Rouge is home to most of the city’s  bicycle commuters. What will you do to improve bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in North Baton Rouge?

Please send responses to bikebatonrouge@gmail.com

Bike Baton Rouge is a 501c3 organization
www.bikebr.org

Meet the Board - Tina Ufford

Tina is a long time bicycle advocate and former Board Member of Bike Baton Rouge. She practices and teaches many things, including Yoga, Massage and Pottery.

Tina is a long time bicycle advocate and former Board Member of Bike Baton Rouge. She practices and teaches many things, including Yoga, Massage and Pottery.

Who are you and where are you from?  

Tina Ufford Colorado Springs, CO

Why do you love bicycling?  

Outside, gas free, exercise time! It shifts me into thinking about where I am..rather than where I'm going

Why did you join the Bike Baton Rouge board?   

I want to be heard, I want to help create change. I want to funnel frustration into action and help others do the same.

What do you see YOUR role as with Bike Baton Rouge?

Connecting the dots in the networking world, finding new partnerships. Keeping things going when we get stalled or burned out.

What do you do and what are you good at?

I am a healer and a creator, an explorer and an educator. I'm good at giving permission, and making people comfortable.
 
What would you consider the greatest challenge to bicycling in Baton Rouge?  

Guh! I only get to pick one...? Continuity! From planning to intersections to sidewalks, it's my biggest frustration here. 

What are you and Bike Baton Rouge doing to tackle that challenge?

Creating rides and events that document the experiences of all riders in town. Inclusion. All people, all areas of town. And then pushing for change.

What will bicycling in Baton Rouge look like in 1/5/20 years time? 

Well I'm pretty satisfied with the Dawson's creek path for this year! One little spot by Coyote Blues to smooth out, and we have a real people mover.
5 Years- I hope to see more education for riders and drivers, and for Government St, Eugene St, and Acadian to be slower, smoother, and safer.
20 years when I'm 60, I hope it just looks something like other capital cities as far as biking infrastructure goes. 

What is does your 'ideal' day of bike riding in Baton Rouge look like?

Morning ride to the Farmer's market downtown, lunch on the levee, a pit stop at home, sunset at the Perkins park, Trader Joe's on the way home. Getting groceries on bike is always ideal. 

Anything else you'd like to mention?

I believe our transportation troubles are the biggest reason for amazing people leaving this town. I have been here for over 10 years now, and plan to stay. When I travel to other cities, I realize how far we have to go, and also how easy we have it!! Good weather most of the time, mostly flat terrain, and the parade culture all lend themselves to this being one of my favorite places to ride! I feel that safe easy travel-biking, walking, public transport-makes a strong connected city,where people want to grow roots and bloom! I know that Bike BR is part of that foundation that keeps me here. 

PRESS RELEASE : Bike Baton Rouge to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month

10/4/16, Baton Rouge, LA

Bike Baton Rouge, a local non-profit organization, is partnering with the Southern University Agricultural Research & Extension Center to raise awareness and funds for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Bike Baton Rouge will be supporting the 10th Annual Pink Party with a Purpose with a ‘Pink Bike Ride’ at this year's event, which will be held on Friday November 4 at Southern University's main campus. Bike Baton Rouge will also donate $5 from each new membership which includes a pink Bike Baton Rouge T-shirt, and $3 from each individual T-shirt sale.

“Women respond better to treatment both when supported by community and when getting regular exercise," said Jessica Stroope, a Bike Baton Rouge member and volunteer who counts breast cancer survivors amongst both her friends and family. "Bicycling with friends is an ideal way to do that - residential streets and designated bike routes are the perfect way to explore our city, get some exercise, and deepen connections with friends." 

Getting regular exercise can be tougher than it sounds - statistics from the League of American Bicyclists show that female bicyclists are less likely to choose to bike on roads without bicycle infrastructure, noting that on average, women will travel five minutes more than men to access a bicycle facility such as a bike lane or trail. Bike Baton Rouge hopes its recently released Baton Rouge Bike Map (bikebr.org/map) will be a quick and easy resource to find safe ways to get around Baton Rouge by bicycle.

Bike Baton Rouge's memberships and T-shirts are available on its website (http://bikebr.org/merchandise/) as well as at at the Pink Party with a Purpose event.

http://bikeleague.org/content/increased-comfort-more-women-biking

Mika Torkkola
225 571 2906
bikebatonrouge@gmail.com

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.

Bike Baton Rouge members and volunteers at the State Capitol in April 2016

Bike Baton Rouge members and volunteers at the State Capitol in April 2016