If you live in Baton Rouge, you may have heard about the petition to remove the bike lanes on Glenmore by the residents who live there. I attended a public meeting last night hosted by the Council Member who represents the area. While I was happy that public discussion was allowed, the tone of the discourse was not encouraging and the petition to remove the lanes was actually turned in at the meeting. It seems that the decision will ultimately be up to the planning commission and the Metro Council, so I urge you to take some time to voice your opinion to both. The letter I plan to send is below. If you need contact information for the Metro Council, you can find it here: http://www.brgov.com/dept/council/lookup.asp. There is also a link on that page to email all Council Members.
I was at the meeting last night at Ingleside Methodist Church but had to leave before the end. I’m not sure how the meeting ended but was grateful for the public dialogue that was allowed to take place while I was in attendance. I don’t usually take the time to voice my opinion, but I feel compelled to do so in this instance because I have a vested interest in this discussion. You see, I am a homeowner and resident in Capital Heights. Also, I own a car and drive thru our neighborhood and connect to many destinations via the Webb Park, Glenmore and Hundred Oaks area. Moreover, I own two bikes and ride regularly on the road.
After listening to the discussion at the public meeting, I think some people are missing an important point. One side of the discussion is talking about convenience and the other side is talking about safety. Which one trumps the other? According to the the CPEX data, safety continues to be a top concern for residents. As I said, I do ride my bike regularly as I am a triathlete. I fully comprehend the dangers of riding my bike on the road, which honestly is why I prefer to ride in other parishes where traffic tends to be less. It is sad that I have to go somewhere else to ride my bike. I get frustrated that while I work about two and a half miles from where I live, I am too scared to ride my bike to work because of the traffic on those roads which includes traveling thru Glenmore. I know that if I get into an accident with a car, I will lose–there is no contest. This weekend during my ride, I stopped at a stop sign to turn onto River Road and a car pulled up behind me. I motioned to have him go around me because I would be slow to start up again and know this can be frustrating for cars. Instead of pulling around me on the left, the car peeled around me on the right thru a gravel parking lot kicking rocks back at me despite us being the only two people at the intersection. Even when I am giving cars the right of way, I can’t win.
I grew up in a place where we rode bikes to school, to ball fields, to friends’ houses and more. It saddens me to know my future kids won’t be able to do this. By continuing to entertain this discussion, we are equating those who want to bike, walk, jog safety on Glenmore as a nuisance and not the safety issue that it really is. On a street that has no sidewalk, taking away these multi-use lanes would be a crash waiting to happen. I do hope that folks can see this before another cyclist or pedestrian is hit in our neighborhood. It’s more than finding a solution that both sides can agree with, it’s about doing the right thing and putting safety first for our collective neighborhoods.