Press Release - Bike Baton Rouge presents National Bike to Work Week (5/16 - 5/20)

5/13/16, Baton Rouge, LA

Bike Baton Rouge will be offering assistance with route planning, safety advice, and group riding opportunities to Baton Rouge residents for Bike to Work Week which begins on Monday, May 16.
Bike to Work Week is a national event to encourage people to ride their bicycles to work and to learn more about the health and environmental benefits active commuting, such as bicycling, can provide.
"There's a myth that bicycling in Baton Rouge is hard or dangerous, but it doesn't have to be if you take a few steps to learn the best route - which is usually not the most direct. For someone driving a car, that might sound like a bad thing, but if you're riding a bike, it's just a few more minutes that you get to enjoy the bike ride!" said Mika Torkkola, of Bike Baton Rouge.
Torkkola added that anyone riding a bike to work (or anywhere) should follow the road rules at all times, including riding with (not against) traffic and using front and rear lights at night.

Bike to work week will culminate on Friday, May 20 with Bike to Work Day. Bike Baton Rouge will host several “Bike Trains,” including one leaving from Ingleside United Methodist Church at 7:15 a.m., stopping at City Park at 7:35 a.m., and arriving at LSU at 7:55 a.m.
Bicyclists of all ages and abilities are invited to join these bike trains which will have experienced local bike commuters leading the way and available to answer questions and offer advice on commuting by bicycle.

Bike Baton Rouge will be partnering with the Capital Heights Social Ride to put on the Bike to Work Week Hump Day Social Ride on Wednesday May 18. The ride will leave Ingleside United Methodist Church at 7 p.m. The Capital Heights Social Ride occurs every second Wednesday and is a slow paced ride often referred to as a “party on two wheels.”

For Bike to Work Week, Bike Baton Rouge will also be rolling out the hashtag #mybikestory and encouraging Baton Rouge bicyclists to share stories of their daily rides.
"Too often, people only hear about bicycling when something bad happens." said Torkkola, "We're encouraging folks to help change that perception by letting the world know how fun, how relaxing, or even in many cases, how mundane your average bike ride in Baton Rouge can be."
Bicyclists can share their stories, photos and more on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

National Bike to Work Day was first held in 1956 and was organized by the League of American Bicyclists. Bike to Work Week was originally known as Bike Week and originated in the UK in 1923. An average year-round bike commuter saves 1.3 tons of Carbon Dioxide emissions a year, and studies show that active transportation, such as riding a bike, is typically a more effective way to lose weight or improve overall health than going to the gym.
Anyone interested in participating to Bike to Work Week can find out more at the Baton Rouge Bike to Work Week Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/BRBikeToWork/) or by contacting Bike Baton Rouge at bikebatonrouge@gmail.com

Mika Torkkola
225 571 2906

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.

Senate Bill No. 171 to be heard Wednesday May 11th.

Bike Baton Rouge and Varsity Sports hosted a bike/run event in support of SB 171 that was attended by over a hundred runners and bicyclists

Bike Baton Rouge and Varsity Sports hosted a bike/run event in support of SB 171 that was attended by over a hundred runners and bicyclists

Bike Baton Rouge needs YOUR help.

Senate Bill No. 171, which would create or increase penalties for motorists who kill or maim vulnerable road users (including bicyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians) due to careless driving, will be going before the House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice next week on Wednesday, May 11th. The bill passed the Senate Committee hearing (complete with three committee members agreeing to co-author the bill) and then passed through the Senate with only one vote against (and thirty-three for!

Link to the bill

The committee in question will decide if the bill goes forward to be voted on by the house. We’re asking for YOUR help in letting those committee members know what this bill means to you and how it can protect the people of Louisiana.

There are several ways that you can help :

1) Between now and Wednesday, call or email the committee members (listed below) and tell them you support Senate Bill No 171. 

Adams, Bryan                 (504)361-6013                    
Bacala, Tony                 (225)677-8020           bacalat@legis.la.gov     
Bagneris, John H.                 (504)243-7783                    
Barras, Taylor F.                 (337)373-4051                    
Carpenter, Barbara                 (225)771-5674          
Dwight, Stephen                 (337)491-2315                    
Gaines, Randal L.                 (985)652-1228                    
Hazel, Lowell C. "Chris"                 (318)767-6082                    
Hodges, Valarie                 (225)791-2199                  hodgesv@legis.la.gov
Howard, Frank A.                 (318)256-4135                    
James, Edward C. "Ted"                 (225)343-3633               james.ted@legis.la.gov      
Landry, Terry                 (337)373-9380                    
Leger, Walt III                 (504)556-9970                    
Lopinto, Joseph P.                 (504)838-5430                    
Mack, Sherman Q.                 (225)567-3677                macks@legis.la.gov     
Marcelle, Denise                 (225)359-9362         marcelled@legis.la.gov    
Norton, Barbara M.                 (318)632-5887                    
Pylant, Steve E.                 (318)435-7313          

More information on the committee

The committee members listed in italics, in particular, represent those of us in the Baton Rouge area, and would make great allies in getting this bill to pass. Ted James and Denise Marcelle represent districts in East Baton Rouge parish, Valarie Hodges and Tony Bacala represent Prairieville and Denham Springs respectively. Sherman Macks is the Chair of the committee.

Contacting these committee members is the NUMBER ONE thing that you can do to help this bill pass. You'll see a sample of what you can tell them further down this page.

2) If you are available on Wednesday, May 11th, we’d love for you to come down to the State Capitol and show your support for SB 171 by attending the hearing, which begins at 9:30 am.You can do this in one of three ways :

- Show up to the hearing and fill out a card, usually green, in support of the bill. This card and your name will be read and counted in favour of the bill prior to the vote. If you are unable to stay for the length of the hearing, you can fill this card out and leave at any time.

- On top of filling out the above card, you can stay throughout the rest of the hearing, ideally sitting with a group of other folks (pedestrians, runners, mobility device users, bicyclists, motorcyclists and more) to show your support. Wearing a bright Bike Baton Rouge or other bicycle shirt is recommended to make sure you’re identified in the crowd.

- Finally, if you’re brave, you can ask to be given a chance to address the committee. You’ll be given a short period to read a prepared statement or speak ‘from the heart’ in support of the bill. If you’d like help preparing such a statement, please shoot us an email at bikebatonrouge@gmail.com and we’ll help draft one up!

3) Whether you do all of the above or none of them - please help us get the message out to your friends, families and neighbours by talking to them, sharing our news posts, and generally encouraging others to get involved. 

Senate Bill No. 171 is a bill that protects everyone. Even those who never bike, run, or walk for recreation or exercise spend some part of their day on foot, even if it’s walking to the car and back. The only people this bill hurts are those who choose to drive carelessly and put the rest of lives, and the lives of our families, in danger.

If you have any further questions on how you can help, shoot us an email at bikebatonrouge@gmail.com and we'll be happy to help you get involved!

Resources :

If you plan on calling, emailing, or attending the hearing, you might find the below items useful :

Bike Baton Rouge Statement on SB 171
Bike Baton Rouge Statement following passing of SB 171 from Senate Committee
League of American Bicyclists Bike Law University explanation of the Vulnerable Roar User Law
Peopleforbikes.org Statistics Page
"Louisiana has 2nd most bicycle deaths per capita in the country"
"Louisiana ranked 3rd for obesity, Baton Rouge ranked worst city"

Sample Email :

Dear Representative [NAME],

I understand that you sit on the House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice, and your committee will be hearing Senate Bill No. 171 on Wednesday, May 11th. The bill in question would offer greater protections to pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists and other vulnerable road users from those motorists who choose to endanger them by driving carelessly.

Louisiana ranks second in the nation for bicycle deaths per capita. Fifteen percent of Louisiana traffic fatalities take the life of a pedestrian, bicyclist or other Vulnerable Road User. The legal means to penalize those motorists who make walking, bicycling or motorcycling dangerous are few and far between. It is all too common for drivers who are involved in crashes that kill or maim these road users to escape prosecution entirely.

I urge you and your committee to pass Senate Bill No. 171, which would do a great deal of good in keeping the citizens of Louisiana safe while out on our roadways.


Sample testimony we gave at the Senate Committee Hearing :


My name is Mika Torkkola. Today I’m here on behalf of Bike Baton Rouge, representing thousands of bicyclists in the Baton Rouge Area. When I’m not on my bike, I’m also sometimes a pedestrian, a runner, and occasionally even a driver of a motor vehicle.

In May of 2015 I was hit by a car along with two friends. I walked away from that crash, but my two friends were not so fortunate. One of them, Justin Weber, suffered a severe brain injury, internal bleeding and damaged vertebrae. Justin faced several months of recovery and rehabilitation before he was able to return to work, and several more before he was back to riding a bicycle.

I have personally seen the damage that a motor vehicle can do to the human body. I would not wish it upon anyone.

Similar damage was done to our friend Gordon Mese in August of last year when he was hit by a driver that ran a stop sign. The crash put Gordon in hospital, and out of work for a month. The driver received a ticket for running the stop sign, but no charges were brought against them for the serious injuries that their action caused to Gordon.

It is an unfortunate truth that bicycling, walking, or running on Louisiana’s roads can be a dangerous activity.

Senate Bill number 171 is not a radical proposal. Similar bills have already passed in nine other states, and each one has seen a reduction in injury and fatality rates amongst the most vulnerable of road users.

This bill would see similar results in Louisiana.

I would urge all of the committee members, regardless of whether they themselves walk, run, bike or otherwise, to consider the safety and wellbeing of themselves, their friends and families, and their constituents by voting in favour of this bill.

Thank you."

Full text of the bill :

"Proposed law creates the crime of infliction of serious injury or death on a public road user, which is the inflicting of serious bodily injury upon the person of a public road user or the killing of a public road user when caused proximately or caused directly by an offender engaged in the operation of a motor vehicle in a careless manner.

Proposed law defines a "public road user" as:
(1) A pedestrian, including but not limited to a person engaged in work upon a public highway
or other roadway, or in work upon utility facilities along a public highway or other roadway,
or engaged in the provision of emergency services within the right-of-way of a public
highway or other roadway.
(2) A person riding or leading an animal upon a public highway or other roadway.
(3) A person lawfully operating or riding any of the following on a public right-of-way,
crosswalk, or shoulder of a public highway or other roadway:
(a) A bicycle, tricycle, or other pedal-powered vehicle.
(b) A farm tractor or similar vehicle designed primarily for farm use.
(c) A skateboard, roller skates, or in-line skates.
(d) A motorcycle, moped, or scooter.
(e) An animal-drawn wheeled vehicle, farm equipment, or sled.
(f) An electric personal assistive mobility device.
(g) A wheelchair, rollator, rolling walker, or walker.

Proposed law provides that a person issued a traffic citation pursuant to proposed law must attend a hearing on the citation before a court having jurisdiction over the alleged offense.
Proposed law provides that a person found to have committed an offense causing serious bodily
injury under proposed law may have his driving privileges suspended for a period of not more than one year and in addition may be:

(1) Fined not more than $2,000.
(2) Imprisoned for up to 90 days.
(3) Ordered to complete a court-approved motor vehicle accident prevention program.
(4) Ordered to perform not more than 200 hours of community service.

Proposed law provides that a person found to have committed an offense causing death under proposed law may be imprisoned with or without hard labor for not more than five years, fined not more than $5,000, or both."

On behalf of all of bike baton rouge, and everyone who walks, bikes, motorcycles or uses a road in Louisiana, thank you!

Bike Baton Rouge

Press release - Bike Baton Rouge announces meeting dates and new board members

March 3, 2016
Baton Rouge, LA

Bike Baton Rouge, a non-profit bicycle advocacy organization, will hold a general meeting on Wednesday, March 9 to introduce its newest board members and give Baton Rouge bicyclists a look at their plans for 2016. Mark Martin, long time Chair of Bike Baton Rouge, will be joined by Kellen Gilbert, Alaric ‘Ric’ Haag, Doug Moore, Samantha Morgan, Claire Pittman and Mika Torkkola as the new board of Bike Baton Rouge.
“As a lifelong resident of Baton Rouge, I’ve been encouraged by all the growth over the past decade. Bike Baton Rouge can be a strong advocate for continuing that growth, which is why I wanted to join the board. I truly love this city and feel it has a lot to offer” said Samantha Morgan.
Mark Martin, founder and current Chair of Bike Baton Rouge, will step down from that position at the end of June. He says he’s proud of what the organization has accomplished and feels he’ll be leaving Bike Baton Rouge in good hands.
“We’ve seen increasing numbers of bicyclists in many parts of Baton Rouge,” said Martin. “I like to think that number will continue to grow.”
Mika Torkkola, a longtime Bike Baton Rouge member, volunteer, and advocate, will take over Martin’s position as Chair in July.
The general meeting will take place at Brew Ha Ha (711 Jefferson Hwy) at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 9th. Both Bike Baton Rouge members and non-members are welcome at the meeting.

For more information, visit bikebr.org, look up Bike Baton Rouge on facebook, or email Bike Baton Rouge at bikebatonrouge@gmail.com

Mika Torkkola
225 571 2906

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.

Press release - Bike Baton Rouge seeking nominations for annual Bicycle Ambassador Awards

February 25, 2016
Baton Rouge, LA

Bike Baton Rouge is seeking nominations for the 2016 Mike Bitton Bicycle Ambassador Award. The honor goes to an individual who, like Mike, has demonstrated commitment, determination and action to make Baton Rouge a better and safer place to bicycle and who inspires the rest of us to do the same. Last year's Mike Bitton Bicycle Ambassador Award went to Dustin LaFont, founder of Front Yard Bikes, Baton Rouge's first community bike shop.

"The Mike Bitton Awards are our biggest event of the year," said Mika Torkkola, Bike Baton Rouge Board Member. "They're an excuse to come out and celebrate the good things that are happening for bicycling in Baton Rouge and to recognize the people who are behind them."

Nominations will be accepted through March 19th, 2016, and can be submitted via email to bikebatonrouge@gmail.com. Nominations should include the name of the nominee, and a brief description of their contributions to bicycling in Baton Rouge. Nominations for this year's Bike Friendly Business and Bike Friendly Professional are also being accepted at the same email address.

"All too often we don't stop and recognize the good things that are going on in Baton Rouge", Torkkola added. "Baton Rouge is a much better place to ride a bike than it was even just a few years ago - and it's largely thanks to the the efforts of the people who will be receiving these awards."

The awards ceremony will be held at the Firehouse Gallery at the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge (427 Laurel Street) on Wednesday, April 27th.

For more information, visit bikebr.org, look up Bike Baton Rouge on facebook, or email Bike Baton Rouge at bikebatonrouge@gmail.com

Mika Torkkola
225 571 2906

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.