Mark Martin

Meet the Board - Part 1 - Mark Martin

With our new website and memberships launching, we thought we'd introduce Bike Baton Rouge's new (and old) board members who are currently behind the wheel (er, handlebars) of this organization. We're starting this weekly series with the man himself, the godfather of Bike Baton Rouge, outgoing Bike Baton Rouge president and founder of the organization - Mark Martin.

Who are you and where are you from?

I am Mark E. Martin. I was born and raised in Florida a long time ago.

Why do you love bicycling?

As if there were a short answer to that . . . believe it or not, the main reason I love bicycling is the peace and joy it brings me. There are lots of other reasons but that’s the fundamental one.

Why did you join the Bike Baton Rouge board? How long have you served (as a board member or as a volunteer)?

I started what is now Bike Baton Rouge in 2006 with five others. I served as chair-president for a number of years and have been on the board the entire ten years. 

What do you see YOUR role as with Bike Baton Rouge? What do you do and what are you good at?

I tend to see problems and work to resolve them, that’s why I started Bike Baton Rouge. I’m good at talking to people, gathering information, and disseminating it to those who could use the information to move creation of safer streets forward on all levels. I’m also handy with lots of low-level computer applications used to create documents, visuals, and databases.

What would you consider the greatest challenge to bicycling in Baton Rouge?

Wow . . . well . . . primarily a lack of appropriate bicycle-specific infrastructure. Without the infrastructure the city has, in my opinion, nearly reached the peak of ridership, which is largely young males, also known as “riders of choice,” and those who have no alternative, also known as “riders of necessity.” Appropriate, well-constructed, and thoughtfully located bicycle infrastructure will provide a safer environment for riding. That in turn will attract a much wider and larger ridership comprised of those who are currently uncomfortable riding on the street without bicycle-specific infrastructure.

What are you and Bike Baton Rouge doing to tackle that challenge?

We’ve been deeply involved in the governmental agencies that are responsible for creating infrastructure, amending laws, and encouraging others to ride. We’ve been effective in moving bicycling, walking, and sustainable transportation into the mainstream of conversations with these agencies. That, in turn, has brought a greater understanding of the issues to those who were unaware.

What will bicycling in Baton Rouge look like in 1/5/20 years’ time?

My crystal ball is out for polishing but, if I had to predict the future, I’d say a great deal depends on three things: 1) support from political and business leaders; 2) continued funding for projects, and; 3) changes in the way bicycling is seen by those who build infrastructure. We have a mayoral election coming up this fall which will be crucial to continuing forward movement on infrastructure. Funding is tight now and will probably be tighter in the future. Attrition, a very slow process at best, will probably have the greatest effect on the engineers and builders though political support/pressure is a factor.

At the same time, I believe more and more people will want to ride. Demographics will potentially be a major force. We’re already seeing the effects of Baby Boomers aging out, part of which is a desire to live in dense urban settings without the need for daily driving. At the other end of the spectrum, Millennials have a lowest motor vehicle ownership and driver’s license holding levels in fifty years. Both of these forces will, I believe, create a desire for better bicycling infrastructure.

What does your ideal day of bike riding in Baton Rouge look like?

An ideal day of riding would include dry, cool, sunny weather with the least interaction with motor vehicles possible. Throw in a gathering of bike people, some good food, a little beer, and maybe a fire in the backyard pit . . . heaven.

Anything else you'd like to mention?

Ride yer bike!

Bike Baton Rouge Board Members (Left to Right) Claire Pittman, Samantha Morgan, Alaric 'Ric' Haag, Kellen Gilbert, Mika Torkkola and Doug Moore (Photograph by Irene Kato)

Bike Baton Rouge Board Members (Left to Right) Claire Pittman, Samantha Morgan, Alaric 'Ric' Haag, Kellen Gilbert, Mika Torkkola and Doug Moore
(Photograph by Irene Kato)

Press Release - Bike Baton Rouge recognizes bicycling advocates at Mike Bitton Awards ceremony


Left to Right - Gilles Morin, Beaux Jones, Juan Cruz and Dave Cano
(Photograph by Irene Kato)

Bike Baton Rouge recognizes bicycling advocates at Mike Bitton Awards ceremony
4/29/16, Baton Rouge, LA

Bike Baton Rouge and around thirty local bicycling advocates celebrated the recipients of the Mike Bitton Awards on Wednesday evening at the Firehouse Gallery at the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge. The annual awards recognize community members who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to make Baton Rouge a better place to bike, and are named after former LSU student Mike Bitton, who became a spokesperson and advocate for bicycle safety and awareness following a hit and run crash on River Road that left Mike with life threatening injuries.

Beaux Jones, former president of Bike Baton Rouge and winner of the Mike Bitton Award, said “It is a great honor to be recognized by an organization that I love and respect so much. There is still so much to be done, but I hope that I helped to move our community closer to a safer, happier and healthier Baton Rouge‘’. Jones was awarded the Mike Bitton Award for his services to Bike Baton Rouge as well as bicycling and walking in both Baton Rouge and Louisiana.

Other recipients included David Cano of Iron Works Design LLC, who was awarded the Bike Friendly Business Award for his work with manufacturing and installing Bike Racks in Baton Rouge; Gilles Morin, of the City of Baton Rouge Planning Commission who received the Bike Friendly Ambassador Award for his long term support of bicycling projects in Baton Rouge; and Juan Cruz, of Cultural Dynamics, who received the Bike Friendly Professional Award for his work in supporting bicycling and walking projects amongst minorities and underrepresented communities, particularly with the Gardere Project.

Mark Martin, founder and outgoing president of Bike Baton Rouge, was cautious when asked about what he’ll do with his time, saying “I want to take it easy for a while and see how long it takes me to become antsy again.” When asked about his successes, Martin said ”I am happy to see more people riding now than there were 10 years ago. I can't say that anything I did had a direct affect on that but it's good to see.”

Martin’s successor, Mika Torkkola, will immediately take the helm of Bike Baton Rouge.

Bike Baton Rouge’s focus for May will be be Bike to School Day, on May 4th, Bike to Work Week on May 16th through May 20th, and Bike to Work Day on the May 20th. Bike Baton Rouge will have volunteers offering advice and support to anyone who is new to commuting by bicycle. For more information, please email bikebatonrouge@gmail.com

Mika Torkkola
225 571 2906
bikebatonrouge@gmail.com

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.

Bike Baton Rouge members including Leif Remo in foreground (Photograph by Irene Kato)


Bike Baton Rouge members including Leif Remo in foreground
(Photograph by Irene Kato)

Outgoing Bike Baton Rouge Mark Martin (left) and Beaux Jones (Photograph by Irene Kato)

Outgoing Bike Baton Rouge Mark Martin (left) and Beaux Jones
(Photograph by Irene Kato)