Bike Baton Rouge board members Doug Moore, Tina Ufford, and Sarah Schramm met with Councilwoman Tara Wicker last week Wednesday, October 11 to discuss bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in Councilwoman Wicker’s District 10. District 10 covers an area from the Mississippi River to an eastern border of Plank Road, St. Rose Ave, and around the University Lakes, south to Gourrier Ave. It includes Southern University, Downtown, LSU and City Park.
Councilwoman Wicker and her husband recently have been cycling to some destinations in Baton Rouge and observed first-hand the challenges of navigating the streets by bicycle. Interested in improving conditions for bicyclists and pedestrians in her district, she accepted an invitation from Bike Baton Rouge Vice President Doug Moore to discuss ideas for improving bicycle connectivity in the city and take a 5-mile bike tour in her district.
Although the day was hot, spirits were high, as Bike Baton Rouge pointed out where roads were wide enough for bike lanes, challenges for cyclists who must navigate streets that don’t align, and where bike and pedestrian infrastructure does not connect.
After the ride, Councilwoman Wicker commented on how much safer she felt riding in a group and taking a lane of traffic compared to when only she is riding with only one other person on the edge of the street. Bike Baton Rouge members noted that it's a common misconception that bicyclists are required to ride as far to the right as possible, and that on streets too narrow to accommodate three feet of distance between a car and cyclist travelling the same direction, taking the lane is often the safest way to ride. (See reference here.)
Bike Baton Rouge left the councilwoman with a map that show where bike lanes exist, where they are under construction, and where they are feasible. The meeting ended with an agreement to continue pursuing improvements for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and to work with the city to install bike lanes where feasible.
EDITOR'S NOTE :
Two weeks after joining Bike Baton Rouge on this bicycling tour, Councilwoman Wicker made this statement at the October 25 Metro Council meeting regarding the Baton Rouge Bike Share.
"One of the things we found on our tour was that Baton rouge does not have infrastructure necessary for people that choose biking as an option for their mode of transportation, and that's a shame. I should be able to bike my babies through Baton Rouge or go to my Aunt and Uncle's house without having to worry about if I'm going to die in the street.
So if we want to grow as a major city, we need to be able to grow up and look at how major cities are attracting people to their community, and how they're attracting younger people and retaining them. I do believe that having biking as a viable option - if you have infrastructure improvements in place to allow that to happen - is wise, and it's progressive, and it's necessary."