Editor's Note : Our Annual Mike Bitton Awards are this evening, and in tribute to all those who've worked to make Baton Rouge a better place to ride, former Baton Rouge resident, bike advocate and all round AWESOME DUDE Moshe Cohen kindly agreed to briefly tell us the history of the uniquely Baton Rougeian 'Yeah, Bike!'...
The current generation of Critical Mass Baton Rouge started up in 2005. At the Hill Farm Community Organic Garden on the LSU campus, rows of strawberries, tomatoes, and mustard greens were usually lined with bikes, as well. Weekly community gardening days spurred ad hoc debates on how to spread the love of cycling.
Unlike the mountain and road biking communities, urban cycling wasn’t so popular in Baton Rouge, and so it wasn’t so easy to spot new riders to attract to Critical Mass each month. In fact there were so few that when this author passed another cyclist, he would shout in solidarity: "Yeah, bike!" This became a catch phrase amongst those at the garden, who would shout it in call-and-response when anyone else would arrive. This was an informal enough tool to cement this group of friends as they began to go on various biking adventures together.
This was also a useful way to signal to new friends that they were welcome to join the rides. Someone carved a “YEAH BIKE” stencil into a drum head, and rides would begin with the spray painting of clothes, bags, and patches. These were doled out to anyone who wanted them, in an effort to prove that the movement was truly for the masses.
Excerpted from "Building a biking community with Critical Mass Baton Rouge" from the book "Shift Happens: Critical Mass at 20" -- available for purchase here.
About the author: Moshe Cohen lived in Baton Rouge and attended LSU from 2004 through 2010.