Member's General Meeting Thursday 9/7

Thursday, September 7, 2017
La Carreta (4065 Government St, Baton Rouge, LA 70806)

It's time for our bimonthly meeting! Join us Thursday, September 7th at La Carreta to hear the haps.

This month's meeting starts at *6:30* because we will be going over the bike/ped survey that we will be conducting the following week (it's not too late to volunteer to help!). At 7 we'll begin the general meeting. 

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Who's Who of Baton Rouge Bike and Ped Advocacy (Part 1)

We at Bike Baton Rouge are proud of the advocacy, social, and community work we do to promote safe and fun biking and walking in the Baton Rouge area, but lucky for us, we are not alone in this venture!  We live in a city with multiple groups that share similar goals as us. In this post, we will introduce you to a few of them in a Who’s Who of Baton Rouge Bike and Ped Advocacy. In Part 1, we introduce you primarily to civic groups. (If you think we’ve missed any, please leave a comment and we’ll update the post!)


Baton Rouge Bicycle Club | Advocacy, Social Rides

A BRBC social ride along the levee.

A BRBC social ride along the levee.

BRBC promotes cycling, safety, education, and fitness for recreational and touring cyclists. They encourage and promote bicycling as a way of life and as a safe and enjoyable recreation and transportation option by leading touring rides in and out of town for all skill levels. Every Saturday they have a “Tour de Café” ride around the lakes, levee, and Capitol with refreshment stops at cafes. BRBC also advocates for the inclusion of bicycle safety in infrastructure projects in the Baton Rouge area.


Front Yard Bikes | Advocacy, social rides

Front Yard Bikes. Image from 225 Magazine.

Front Yard Bikes. Image from 225 Magazine.

FYB is a community bike shop that focuses on teaching participants of all ages how to fix and maintain bikes. This bike shop doubles as an after-school program for kids in the area. Every Friday they have social rides to local parks, libraries, museums, monuments, and more.


Baton Rouge Area Mountain Biking Association | Advocacy, Social rides

BRAMBA organizes mountain bike trail building efforts and supports mountain biking in the Baton Rouge area. They operate as advocates of the Kerry Stamey Trail System, organize trail maintenance days, and host an online forum for sharing information.

If you like trail riding, check out BRAMBA.

If you like trail riding, check out BRAMBA.


Geaux Ride | Social rides

Although Geaux Ride is a bike rental and bike tour business, they also double as a social group, hosting free, public social rides downtown every Thursday evening.

Public social ride downtown led by Geaux Ride.

Public social ride downtown led by Geaux Ride.


BREC (Baton Rouge Recreation and Park Commission for the Parish of East Baton Rouge) | Social Rides, Infrastructure

Silver Spokes ride hosted by BREC.

Silver Spokes ride hosted by BREC.

BREC manages the Baton Rouge area’s park system and fosters outdoor recreation.  One of the ways they promote outdoor activity is through their Outdoor Adventure initiative, which includes programs like Silver Spokes—social rides for seniors with specially-designed bikes for riders interested in more stability or comfort than the average bicycle.


Walking and Running Clubs | Social walks, runs


There are several walking and running clubs in Baton Rouge. Their primary focus is on fitness and community-building, but participants are also advocates for safe streets since they are navigating the roads on sidewalks as vulnerable users. The East Baton Rouge Public Library hosts Your Pace or Mine Walking Club several days a week, and running clubs like Happy’s Running Club, Varsity Sports Running Club, Black Girls RUN!, and Club South Runners have regular runs and races.


AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) | Advocacy

AARP advocates for complete streets, livable communities, and streetscape design that allows pedestrians with a range of abilities and those with mobility devices to move freely through their communities and around town. The Baton Rouge branch has been active in the local complete streets conversation.


Baton Rouge Area Foundation | Advocacy

BRAF is a non-profit organization connecting philanthropic sources with civic projects in South Louisiana. They have a Mobility Initiative which advocates for transportation choices for bicyclists, pedestrians, and public transportation users. They have helped fund the soon-to-be-implemented bikeshare program.

Bi-monthly meeting date change!

If you’re keeping a calendar of our every-other month meetings, please note that the August meeting has been moved to September 7. We’ve moved the meeting to be closer to the dates of the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project so we can better recruit and inform you about the details. Here’s an article about our involvement with this project.

So again, no meeting this month.  We’ll see you…in September (cue music).

As always, if you have ideas, suggestions, and comments about how Bike Baton Rouge can have a positive impact on our community, please don’t hesitate to call, email, or post on our site.

Volunteer for the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project!

The number 2 google image search result for 'bike count'.

The number 2 google image search result for 'bike count'.

This September, Bike Baton Rouge will be participating in the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project for the first time - and we need your help!

The project is an effort to count pedestrians and bicyclists nationally, and to provide data for bicycle and pedestrian advocates (like Bike Baton Rouge), as well as governmental organizations and planners with the hopes that these counts will help to put more (and better) bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure into the ground - and making bicycling and walking safer and more enjoyable.

In our case, this data will also be used to support local projects. We'll be providing the counts to our friends at various government and non-government organizations - and we'll be utilizing the counts ourselves in an exciting report about bicycling in Baton Rouge that we'll be releasing later this year.

The counts will occur at two times - on Tuesday, September 12th (5pm - 7pm) and Saturday, September 16th (12pm - 2pm), in around ten locations in Baton Rouge. We'll work with you - our volunteers - to assign you a location as convenient to you as possible (we'll try our best, we swear!)

So - how do the counts work, and how can you help?

1) Register to volunteer for the counts HERE!

2) There will be an optional (but recommended) training session at our next General Meeting on Thursday, September 7th. If you won't make it or are just curious, you can download all of the count instructions and documentations here. We'll finalize a time and location for this meeting a little closer to the date of the meeting.

3) You'll receive a count package, including counting and recording materials (clipboards, pens, etc) and some free Bike BR swag in return for your help!

4) On the count days, you'll make your way out to the count locations, complete your counts, and then send them to us (phone, email, snail mail, carrier pigeon, anything is fine!). You can sign up for just one of the two count days, or for both of them!

5) Bike Baton Rouge will collate your data, submit it to the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project, and publish it on our website for the whole world to see.

Interested? Click HERE and we'll get back to you with more information.

Thanks for supporting Bike Baton Rouge!


The misunderstood link between bike lanes, sidewalks, and crime

Gated road access as Tiger Manor Apartments

Gated road access as Tiger Manor Apartments

This post is a new one in a series of personal musings from our Bike Baton Rouge board members.

In June, Bike Baton Rouge was invited to volunteer with an AARP led survey of the Ardenwood, Melrose and Bernard Terrace neighbourhoods. For two hours on a Saturday morning we walked from door to door, asking residents for their opinion on transportation in Baton Rouge. Most of the respondents we spoke to supported more sidewalks, bike lanes, and public transportation facilities - why wouldn't they? - but a handful did not. Their reason? The belief that those facilities will increase crime in their neighbourhoods by giving easier access to would-be criminals.

Fear of crime is a common theme amongst people and organizations resisting bicycle and pedestrian facilities. Last week, it was reported that the Stanford Oaks Property Owners Association plans to install a gate across a sidewalk that is currently accessible to the public, citing, amongst other reasons, fear of criminal access. Residents of Glenmore Ave mentioned crime when speaking about their desire to remove bicycle lanes in 2015, and a few years before that, Tiger Manor Apartments by LSU closed off a popular pedestrian and bicycle cut-through on July Street for similar reasons. 

(To be clear, the Stanford Oaks and Tiger Manor closures both occurred legally on private property. We don't argue against their right to make those closures - just their reasons for doing so. And as for how private interests can control public thoroughfares? That's another story entirely...)

Amongst some people, there is clearly a belief that bike lanes, sidewalks, and other facilities will lead to increased crime rates, lower property values, and less pleasant neighbourhoods. Let's see if there's any merit to this idea - and how neighbourhoods might actually benefit from the improved access that bicycle and pedestrian facilities provide.

First, we'll examine how the phenomenon of 'natural' surveillance actually reduces crime in neighbourhoods with increased bicycle and pedestrian access. From wikipedia : 

"Research into criminal behavior demonstrates that the decision to offend or not to offend is more influenced by cues to the perceived risk of being caught than by cues to reward or ease of entry. Consistent with this research CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) based strategies emphasize enhancing the perceived risk of detection and apprehension.

Natural surveillance limits the opportunity for crime by taking steps to increase the perception that people can be seen. Natural surveillance occurs by designing the placement of physical features, activities and people in such a way as to maximize visibility and foster positive social interaction. Potential offenders feel increased scrutiny and perceive few escape routes. Natural surveillance is typically free of cost, however its effectiveness to deter crime varies with the individual offender."

Natural surveillance is sometimes summed up with the phrase 'eyes on the street'. The more 'eyes on the street', the less likely a potential criminal will be to offend. In this context, it is clear that an active bicycle facility or sidewalk, with bicyclists, runners, children, dog-walkers, and more - will increase the number of community members providing natural surveillance - and actually decrease crime, as shown in this study of US bike trails by the Federal Highway Administrationthis study of bicycling in Amsterdam and this report by the Government of Queensland, Australia.

Second, we'll examine the effect of bicycle infrastructure on property values. A study by the North Carolina Department of Transportation estimated that properties in proximity to bike trails (one quarter mile) experience an increase in land value of four to seven per cent as a result of the addition of the bike trail, while the Delaware Center for Transportation completed a similar study and found a similar rate of four per cent. Younger people, in particular, value increased transportation options highly :

"In fact, the more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly a small town is, the more desirable it will be for potential buyers and renters, experts say. And the more likely real estate prices are to rise, particularly when those brand-new subdivisions and fancy new condos come online."

Clearly, home buyers value being close to bicycle infrastructure. Tyler Hicks, of the Capital Heights Neighbourhood Association, notes one example of a property that more than doubled in value in the nine years since the Capital Heights bike lane was installed.

Third, even a cursory examination of potential bicycle / pedestrian accessibility changes will find the following - that anybody who might otherwise walk or bike in that neighbourhood will, if that option disappears, be forced to walk or bike further or to choose an alternative mode of transportation - often driving. In a city beset by traffic complaints, it seems obvious that denying someone the opportunity to travel by means other than a car is likely to increase traffic, and to deny that person the myriad of health and social benefits that come for bicycling or walking.

Both the New York City Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration publish data supporting the conclusion that bicycle infrastructure reduces traffic. Or, as Bike Athens puts it : Hate Traffic? Support Bike Lanes! (or sidewalks)

Finally, and less quantifiably, welcoming people into your neighbourhood is, well, being a good neighbour.

Baton Rouge endured a horrific 2016, with racial relations strained following the shootings of Alton Sterling and officers Brad Garafola, Matthew Gerald, and Montrell Jackson. Residents of Baton Rouge would do well to invite, rather than repel, folks into their neighbourhoods - particularly folks who might look, and get around, a little differently than they do.

That's the measure of a true community.

Mika Torkkola
Bike Baton Rouge President

Want to help make Baton Rouge a better place to bike and walk? Become a Bike Baton Rouge member and support our efforts!