Sunday, November 23, 2008

Could Louisiana do the same thing Montana is doing?

Effort launched to develop countywide trails plan

Published: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 8:25 AM CST
The Daily Inter Lake

The Flathead County Parks and Recreation Board is developing a countywide system of nonmotorized pathways to connect all the major population centers to each other, as well as Flathead Lake, Glacier National Park, Flathead National Forest and state and county parks.

The pathway system will include on-street pedestrian and bicycle routes as well as separate off-street pathways, according to a news release from the board.

An advisory committee -- People for Athletics, Travel, Health and Safety -- has been formed and charged with the task of developing a long-range master plan for county trails.

The committee has developed preliminary goals and met with representatives from state and federal agencies, county departments, municipalities and other interested groups. Base maps have been created, and some trails have been proposed to stimulate discussion.

PATHS is planning four community workshops in November to solicit ideas and comments from the public, which will be used to guide the committee's work. Johanna Bangeman is the chairwoman of the committee.

"We need to hear from people throughout the county about their desires regarding safe routes for pedestrians and bicyclists," Bangeman said. "I'm hoping the meetings in November will be well attended."

Rapid population growth is changing the rural lifestyle residents have enjoyed for more than a hundred years. Roads where people could once ride a bicycle or jog have now become unsafe due to heavier traffic. Traditional access is being lost to public lands and recreation opportunities in the area.

"Now is the time for trails planning," said Jim Watson, a member of the county parks board.

Pedestrian/bicycle pathways offer an alternative, connecting homes with schools, parks, offices, and shopping areas, Watson said. Upgrading roads with bike lanes and wide shoulders makes them much safer for bikers and walkers, he added.

The National Park Service Rivers and Trails Program is assisting the county in the planning effort.

"Pathways promote health and fitness by providing an enjoyable and safe place for people to exercise regularly," said Gary Weiner of the Park Service. "Off-street pathways can also provide close-to-home places for people to recreate in a semi-natural setting, and can function as meeting places for the community."

The workshops will be held at the following locations and times:

• Flathead Valley Montessori Academy (Somers): Nov. 17, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
• Columbia Falls Junior High School: Nov. 18, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
• Creston School: Nov. 19, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

• Kila School: Nov. 20, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Good meeting Saturday, thanks to all!

Thanks to all who attended Saturday's meeting: Emily and Scott Sample, Maurice Loridans, Stuart Greathouse, Steve Godfrey, Michael Carmody, Matthew Lin, Jon Soul, and Ian Webb.

Ian talked about the NLCOG meeting he and Maurice attended this past week, and I reported on my, Shelly Ragle, and Tim Wachtel's meeting with Mike Strong. Both of those meetings, along with Steve Shelburne's report of his breakfast group discussions on the topic, caused us to see how a sub-committee of ABetterShreveport devoted to pushing greenways would be preferrable to handing that role to a governmental group or appointed commission.,

We also talked about using the expertise of walkers and bikers to take an inventory of the city's walking and biking options. One practice related to that, but that could also directly help people to get out and be mobile would be to share recommend walking/biking routes, such as through the map of recommended routes I had set up as an example.

We also talked about the importance of linking our alternative transportation network (be it made of trails, ped-bike boulevards, repainted streets, etc.) from places where likely users live to where they'd want to go. We agreed that while everyone in the city should eventually be considered users, many would't be until the city culture changes to see walking and biking as more viable, and a way of doing that is by catering first to those who are already ready and willing to use the network.

Seeing downtown as a destination was discussed as important, for what a revitalized downtown can mean for the city. We also discussed the possible limitations and possibilities for downtown to develop in the future.

Stuart Greathouse, who happens to own his own consulting business on organization efficiency, offered to help me get our group in order, and we'll be meeting with him on Thursday, December 4th, at 8:20 a.m. at Centenary Square. We'll be talking visions and mission statements.

One of the most important things to come out of the meeting was Matthew Linn's point that we should write a letter to the new planning firm that has just been hired by the city and ask that our group's work on greenways--specifically the plan that will be created with the help of the National Park Service starting early next month--be taken into consideration as they make their comprehensive master plan for the city. Matthew said he could send a letter from his position as a Caddo Parrish Commissioner asking that they consider our request. Of course, we could solicit similar letters of support from other officials as well.

Speaking of plans, there was talk yet again about an existing plan of a network of Greenways that we should attempt to get ahold of; it would help us advance the cause of greenways, perhaps regardless of how it differs from the plan we end up creating now.

Thanks again all! Our next meeting will likely be in December to plot for the National Park Service visit. Here's the question: what do YOU think we should do with our drainage-ditch system of bayous?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Next meeting Saturday at 1:00, Centenary Square

The next ABetterShreveport is set for Saturday at 1:00. We'll meet at Centenary Square, across the street from George's Grill. Enter from the parking lot in back and you can't miss us, we'll be down in room 206 as usual.

If you can make it, and you're interested in advancing alternative transportation in Shreveport by implementing a network of multiuse paths, repainted streets, homemade trails, recommended routes, etc. please consider joining us on Saturday. The coffee will be fresh-brewed and waiting!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Public meeting for input on Statewide Recreation Plan

I can't help but think this might be another opportunity to push thinking forward on how recreation and transportation can be integrated. We don't have a statewide system of trails that can be used for bike travel, but perhaps we should.

This is from Tim Wachtel, SPAR Planner, and regular ABetterShreveport contributor:

There will be a public forum for input into the Louisiana Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan update:
Tuesday November 18, 2008
6:00 - 8:00 pm
Southern Hills Park Community Center (near the pool)
1002 Bert Kouns Loop, Shreveport
The SCORP is intended to help guide the development of the State's outdoor recreation resources for the next five years. It is a requirement for the state and cities to get certain federal recreation funds, most notably grants from the Land & Water Conservation Fund (L&WCF).
I wish that I could send you a link to the current plan, but I can't find one. Here's a link to the State Park web site that has a way that you can fill out a user survey if you can't make the meeting:
Please feel free to let anyone who might be interested know about the meeting and the survey site.

Meeting tonight, City Council meeting last night, on the web...

Just a reminder that we meet tonight at 6 at Centenary Square, room 206.

By the way, I went to the City Council's work session last night on budgets, and had a chance to tell them about what we're working on. Those already in the know--Mayor Glover and Councilpersons Long, Lester, and Walford--were welcoming and glad to hear the update, and the rest of council seemed quite supportive.

Also, if you want to see the various forms greenways can take, check out We'll want to think about the possibilities when we discuss how the Park Service can help us.

See ya'll tonight, whoever can make it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Next Meeting is Tuesday the 11th, Centenary Square, 6 p.m.

We'll hold our next meeting on Tuesday (the 11th), at 6:00 p.m. at Centenary Square. We'll talk about the expertise coming in December from the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program provided by the National Park Service, and how we want to use it.

We'll also talk local initiatives we can move forward on right away, such as getting streets repainted for bike lanes. The video Maurice pointed us to in the post below sure is thought provoking in terms of things we could do. (Moving the parked cars out towards the center so the bike lane is totally protected from traffic was quite a sight. How luxurious!)

A couple of strategic, organizational moves we'll continue to discuss will be linking ourselves to Centenary's Civic Engagement Center, as well as asking NLCOG (Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments) to be our convener and government laison for our work on the bike-ped transportation network.

Enter Centenary Square across from George's Grill on Kings Highway from the back parking lot. You won't miss room 206, it's right down the hall.

Hope to see you there!

What works in New York could work in Shreveport... even better?

It's not the New York City you remember. Check out this interview and tour with New York's Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan:

We'll probably all think: "Yeah, but Shreveport isn't New York." True. Some of what works there might not work here. But some things might work even better.

How about those protected bike lanes we see in the second half of the video? The parked cars are moved out away from the old curb to create a sheltered, inviting space for bicycles. Can you imagine that on Fairfield and Highland Avenues? On Marshal? Hmmm.

(Thanks Maurice!)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Being PAID to have fun and be healthy!

From our own Tim Wachtel:

"What will they think of next? This is from the ASLA web site:

On October 3, President Bush signed into law H.R. 1424, The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which is aimed at stabilizing the nation’s economy by providing assistance to our failing financial institutions....
Finally, H.R. 1424 establishes a program that encourages individuals to bicycle to work. Under the measure, commuters who bicycle to work could receive a monthly stipend for bicycle-related expenses. The stipend could be used for bicycle purchase, repair, maintenance, or storage, if the bicycle is regularly used for travel to and from work. While there have been several congressional attempts to encourage bicycle commuting, this is the first such program to be signed into law. ...

Here's the full article:"

Monday, November 3, 2008

Today's meeting moved to Monday the 10th

No meeting today. We'll next Monday night, the 10th, at 6:00 at Centenary Square.
We'll talk about the National Park Service grant and what we want to do with the experts that will be coming in to help us. We'll also talk about targeting certain routes and neighborhoods for increasing the safety and appeal of walking and biking.

A Greenway-Canal Crossing Illinois

From an article in the Geneseo Republic on funding cuts to the Illinois State Park System:

"Geneseo, Ill. -

When construction on the Hennepin Canal finished a century ago, the waterway was considered built too small and too late to be useful in the railroad era.

Not wanting the canal, the Corps of Engineers turned it over to the State of Illinois, and, for many years, the 104-mile waterway struggled to find its identity.

Though it may once have been unloved, the formerly obsolete canal is a thriving state parkway beloved by nearly everyone ...everyone that is, except Illinois state governor Rod Blagojevich."

The article goes on to describe how the Governor planned to close all the state parks to save costs, even though they generate more money than it costs to operate them. The closures would include the canal, and the article then describes how a county Sheriff announced he would be asking for many thousands of volunteers to help him enforce the closure, effectively opening it to the public as "volunteers".

Ah, the creativity of politics and policy!

Thanks to Tim Wachtel, a Genesean himself, for the reference.