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.
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:
· 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.
President, Bike Baton Rouge