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...vast, empty parking lots....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.

 

 

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

"How can I help"? Glad you asked...

Hey all!  First off, thanks to everyone who came to our fundraiser earlier this month.  It was a huge success, as we raised nearly $1000!  This was enough for us to get our Economic Benefits of Bicycling in Baton Rouge report designed and printed...which we'll be unveiling soon.  If you wanted to come but couldn't make it and would like to donate, you totally can here.  We're still trying to raise money for our Light the Night program, where we donate bike lights to those in need.  And if you need to renew membership, you can do so here.  If you're not sure if you're current or not, email us and we'll let you know.  

Also, there are a series of public meetings coming up and we need our people there!  Future BR is having a series of open houses where they will take public comments and suggestions.  Future BR will inform policy and transportation decisions and projects for years to come.  These meetings are our last chance to get our views into the record:

THURSDAY, APRIL 26TH - GOODWOOD MAIN LIBRARY -7711 Goodwood Boulevard

TUESDAY, MAY 1ST - DELMONT GARDENS BRANCH LIBRARY -3351 Lorraine Street

TUESDAY, MAY 8TH -JONES CREEK REGIONAL BRANCH LIBRARY -6222 Jones Creek Road

And...drumroll...The long awaited Ped/Bike Master Plan is having its first round of public outreach meetings.  This is your chance to tell them where you would like to/need to bike and where you maybe can't.  There will be polls, maps and general discussion.  You can bet that those who are generally against what we do (should they hear about these meetings) will be there and will make their voices heard.  We need to be louder, but in a productive way.  Those meetings are...

  • Monday, May 7, 2018 - 5PM to 7PM
    Greenwood Community Park
    Waterfront Theater
    13350 Louisiana 19, Baker, LA 70714

  • Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - 5PM to 7PM
    Perkins Road Community Park Recreation Center
    Meeting Room 3
    7122 Perkins Rd, Baton Rouge, LA 70808

If you can't attend, you can submit comments here.  Bike Baton Rouge has representation on this plan's Steering Committee and Technical Advisory Committee, so if you want us to convey anything to the good folks crafting this plan, you can always email us at info@bikebr.org .  

Lastly, this year will be Baton Rouge's first Cyclofemme! which is an all-ladies, all ages bike ride on Mother's Day.  Details here.   Ladies, come out for a leisurely ride and bring your daughters if you want!  

Thanks for everyone's continued support!  

Yeah Bike!