Monday, November 30, 2009

Report Finds Money for Safer, Healthier "Complete Streets"

SPAR Planner Tim Wachtel pointed us to the following story advocating Complete Streets:
Tim said it's well researched and should be a good resource for policy discussions.

Here's a highlight:

A new report, “Dangerous by Design: Solving the Epidemic of Preventable Pedestrian Deaths and Making Great Neighborhoods,” sponsored by Transportation for America and the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership, has analyzed the soaring number of pedestrian fatalities across the country. The report determined that the vast number of these fatalities was the result of “incomplete streets”—rights-of-way that were designed for high-speed vehicle traffic only. Specifically, the absence of basic pedestrian infrastructure such as sidewalks and crosswalks is a leading cause of the pedestrian fatality epidemic, the report pointed out.

...The report concludes that reducing pedestrian injuries and fatalities as well as creating more healthy walkable communities would result from “smart investments and smart design.” Specifically, the report points out that less than 1.5 percent of federal funds from the Safe Accessible Flexible Efficient Transportation Efficiency Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) was used for pedestrian safety projects. Moreover, state departments of transportation (DOTs) have not taken full advantage of federal transportation programs and fiscal resources to create safer environments for pedestrians. Instead, building more high-speed arterial roads continues to be business as usual in many state and local communities.

So, there's money out there to make our cities safer, let alone more appealing and healthier. Let's go get it!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mapping the routes on which you ride your bike across Shreveport

A Better Shreveport is recording the bike routes of those who enjoy pedaling around the city. It's a basic step in city planning and a tool for the future integration of bike and pedestrian facilities into the transportation grid.

Please see more below.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Help from NLCOG in Sharrows for Bike Routes?

At tonight's meeting we marked more Shreveport bike routes on the maps provided by NLCOG (Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments). When we're done with them, and Lisa Frazier comes to pick them up, we'll make a request for their help.

What we'd like is their help getting sharrows painted along all the routes we're marking, just like those that were painted for the tree tour a week ago, and pictured below:

We believe we've got strong support from Mayor Glover's office--Matt Baily, Brady Blade, Dale Sibley have all expressed support for this kind of thing--as well the City's Department of Operational Services director Mike Strong, and of course Matthew Linn, Caddo Parrish Commissioner.

NLCOG will be the holder of these maps, but we don't want to hand them off if nothing is going to come of our work on them.

So, Lisa Frazier! Kent Rogers! Chris Petro! Will you help? Make Shreveport a happier, healthier place, all with just a bit of paint!

Thanks in advance!
(Posted directly from tonight's ABetterShreveport meeting at Centenary Square.)

The Historic Highland Tour of Homes

Above is the map made by Dan Marcalus.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Shreveport at the top of its game: the Highland Blues & Jazz Fest 09

Given the smooth functioning and growth of the event, a study of the development of the Highland Blues & Jazz Fest is in order for those who care about the city.

Strengths of the fest:
- sundry crowd, both in age and ethnicity.
- family-oriented.
- food and crafts booths adequate to nourish the crowd.
- beer.
- effective sound system (Glenn Graves, a veteran).
- smart team of volunteers, including fest founder Amy Loe, announcer Liz Swain and many more.
- handsome and soulful faces for the numerous photographers.
- opportunity for many attendees to avoid the car and use the bike.
- Chicken Masala, by India's Restaurant, was scrumptious and only $2.
- an example for the city of an effective neighborhood fest.
- Highland in its best light: safe, convenient, multifarious.

I suggest that ABS consider finding and installing a bike rack for next year's fest. The many who rode bicycles to Columbia Park tucked them everywhere. Symbolically it would have been cool to have almost all the bikes in one area. An info table for the ABS mission is also something to discuss.

- Robert Trudeau / photo by Talbot Hopkins Trudeau

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thank You for the Bike Symbols Commissioner Linn, Mayor Glover, Councilman Walford, and Director of D.O.S. Strong!

Hope Matthew doesn't mind that I post this. But for those wondering about the bike symbols that appeared on the streets recently, here's an official account mailed to Mayor Glover, Councilman Walford, and Director of the Department of Operational Services, Mike Strong:

"Mayor Glover,

"Thank you for allowing Dr. Hallie Dozier of L.S.U., myself and friends to paint sharrows on certain streets marking safe bicycle passage from South Highland to Downtown Shreveport. These markings are very inexpensive to apply and bring priceless heightened awareness that something other than an automobile is allowed on the street. When people who are only accustomed to driving a car or truck are informed of the new "Louisiana 3 foot law", they will be grateful to have a friendly reminder of being respectful to bicyclist.

"The template of the "Bicycle Sharrow" has been donated to "A Better Shreveport" I encourage everyone to work together to make our home, Shreveport, easier and safer to navigate by all means of transportation.

"Matthew Linn, Caddo Parish Commissioner, District 4"

Thank YOU Matthew! And thanks to Cedric, Monty, and Mike as well! Onward and upward in adding the little (and big) things that make for a healthier, funner, better Shreveport! (yes, "funner" is a word. really.)

Another City Redesigning Itself for Health and Quality of Life

What cities will be the first to act on the idea that the future of our health and happiness is rooted in human powered transportation? Maybe the "next great city of the south" (a Shreveport label during the last mayoral race) is WAY down south!

Thanks to Jeff Wellborn for the following from
From the National Times of Australia:

"The State Government has committed $13.5 million for bicycle initiatives in NSW in the current financial year including new bike paths, education programs and local road works.

"There are currently 4100 kilometres of cycleways across the state and Transport Minister, David Campbell has committed to build shared bike paths "wherever practicable" when new roads are built.

"Around 40 kilometres of bike paths were built as part of the M7 motorway project and dedicated cycleways were built as part of Busway projects in Sydney's north-west and south-west.

"Shared paths are being built on Victoria Road as part of the duplication of the Iron Cove Bridge.

"Of the $13.5 million, $4.7 million is being used to co-fund 93 local bicycle projects with local councils on a dollar for dollar basis across the state.

"But the City of Sydney council's commitment to better bike paths is much bigger than the State's spending.

"It has pledged to spend $70 million over four years as part of its plan to build a 200 kilometre network across the inner city. A short separated cycleway on King Street in the CBD has been completed and planning is underway for separated cycleways in Union Street Pyrmont, College Street in the CBD and Missenden Road Camperdown."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New group "Shreveport Greenways" formed!

As many of you readers know, ABetterShreveport is devoted to promoting ideas for improving quality of life and community health of Shreveporters. As such ABS has tried to serve as an incubator (or "thinkubator" as Ian Webb has termed it) for a number of projects. Once those ideas get momentum, teams, groups, and even formal organizations can emerge from that process. The ABetterShreveport Downtown is one such group, and now we've got another one.

At the Coates Bluff meeting last night, with Feico Kempff, Carolyn Manning, Loren Demerath, Jon Soul, Susan Keith, Maurice Loridans, and Cynthia Keith in attendance, we decided to form a group devoted to promoting Greenways in Shreveport.

We voted on several options, and the results were that the group is called "Shreveport Greenways".

We defined our independent roles as follows:
secretary and blog editor: Loren Demerath
coordinator: Carolyn Manning
marketer/enewsletter editor: Carolyn
fundraiser: Carolyn
project leison: Feico Kempff
project manager (timelines): Feico
legal council: Maurice Loridans
bicycle transportation advisor: Maurice Loridans
treasurer: Ian Webb
public relations spokesperson: Ian Webb
education facilitators: Susan Keith, Jon Soul, Robert Trudeau

We're all fired up and ready to go! We don't just want to talk about greenways, we want to make them happen, starting with the pilot project of the Coates Bluff Greenway. Stay tuned to this blog to monitor our progress. Naturally, anyone's more than welcome to join us. Feel free to drop by a meeting, or comment on a post!

Other notes from the meeting:

What a success on the 7th with the Velo Dendro biking tree tour of the city!

What did Hallie do to get such a turnout of 100?
- got the media before; Rick Rowe was on a bike on tv 2 days prior publicizing it
- got the different organizations to disseminate the info; Shreveport Green, LSU Agricultural Center, HAP, HRA, ABS, etc.
- had org meeting six months prior
Future rides?: Architecture, Community Gardens, Home Gardens, History Tour, House Paint Jobs, Properties Available, Pub Crawl, Snack Tour...

Feico presented us with the land trust information and Sharon's scope of work; Feico wanted to hear about other options to the land trust.

Brochure created already, delayed in printing, but have petty cash for printing 200 or so?
Can't show roller blades if we're not going to pave it. Easier to find photos for that; might not get a perfect fit.

Brochure: good but minus pavement?
Name: Friends of Shreveport Greenways, ABetterGreenwayedShreveport, ABetterShreveport through Greenways, etc.; final: Shreveport Greenways
Mission: "A Better Shreveport through Greenways"
to get them done the best more effective way possible, but that may not mean our controlling and maintaining them; Veteran's park did become neglected by the city; the Katy Trail Association cares for that trail, though the city is supposed to care for it. What's our role going to be? Are we going to plan/design the trail or give it to someone else? Or the fundraisers? Need to look to the future; naming ourselves is a start... Want to extend beyond Coates Bluff to work for other greenways as well throughout the city; can set the landtrust idea aside until we decide our role... Do we believe that if we just advocate it it'll get done? Or are there not enough stakeholders? Taking politicians on a field trip to the Katy Trail as they did for senators in Houston on the Buffalo River. We don't want to sell landowners on something that gets neglected. Someone has to kick this off and say "we're in charge". There's no one else, e.g., Rails to Trails, who will take this on. All over the world cities use floodways as bikeways because there's nothing else you can do with them. As long as we don't see each Greenway the same and respond to the consensus in the scientific community on how to be socially and environmentally responsible and proactive. The Greenways Group would be a group acting for greenways in general, but for each trail there may be different organizational forms; developers may come to us and say I want to put int a gway, can you make recommendations; We're talking alternative transporation and getting people out of cars; doesn't have to be green, but better if it is. ("Complete Streets" is a movement in the U.S., and LA DOT has told NLCOG and other MPO's to incorporate those principles in their planning.) Susan asked if we need to consider proposed routes elsewhere to create a whole system? Hopefully we'd evolve into those concerns. There's discussion of extending the bike path to LSUS, and even on the levee all the way to Alexandria. Susan mentioned the U.L.Coleman company owns part of a section. Petty Cash Account: we need cash; Carolyn's going to donate $50.

Draft of Mission Statement: "to organize community support for Shreveport Greenways, to advocate support for the Greenways, to raise private and public funds for the completion of the Greenways, and to help the city of Shreveport plan, build, and maintain Trail improvements."

Can bring in Davenport's students be a part of this, researching stuff, designing stuff.
Friends of Shreveport Greenways name is because the chief tasks are coordinating and fund raising;

Cynthia said the dog park could be a part of ABS, others agreed.

The next meeting Shreveport Greenways meeting will be in two weeks on 11/23; we'll alternate with ABS every other night. ABdtnS has been meeting every other lunch monday.

Loren and Carolyn will finish the borchue and after next week's ABS meeting we'll approve the that and the format for the enewsletter. And if you know of anyone who wants to be a sponsor, let Carolyn know; financial support will help make this all happen.

Monday, November 9, 2009

NOW is the time for DETAILED input on revitalization! Meeting on downtown/waterfront Tues, Nov 17, 6 pm, Spt C of C

NOW is the time for DETAILED input!

But, uh, before you read this, did you hear about Velo Dendro as reported in the post below this one? It was AWESOME! What's next ya'll? A biking tour of city architecture? Home gardens? Community gardens? Sites of historical events? Ah, the possibilities!

Anyway, here's an important announcement from the Master Plan Folks. And check out that first phrase!:

"Now’s the time to give detailed input about revitalizing parts of Shreveport-Caddo, and about changes to the Downtown/Waterfront area! Master Plan meetings on these topics are coming up Nov. 17 and 19, and we encourage everyone to participate and to spread the word.

Additionally, the final neighborhood workshops, designed to gather neighborhood-specific input, which were cancelled in October due to weather have been rescheduled for December 3 in the north sections of Shreveport-Caddo. Details on both sets of meetings are attached. Please share with your networks, and put these dates on your calendar today.

November Meetings

Downtown/Waterfront Workshop
Tuesday, November 17, 2009, 6:00pm to 8:30pm
Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, 400 Edwards Street, Shreveport, LA 71101

Revitalization Strategies Workshop

Thursday, November 19, 2009, 6:00pm to 8:30pm
Willis-Knighton Community Center, 2401 Bessie Street, Shreveport, LA 71103

December Meetings

North Neighborhood Workshops (Rescheduled from October 29th)

DATE/TIME: Thursday, December 3, 2009, 6:00pm to 8:30pm
LOCATION: Green Oaks High School, 2550 Thomas E. Howard Drive

DATE/TIME: Thursday December 3, 2009, 6:00pm to 8:30pm
LOCATION: Louisiana Technical College Shreveport-Bossier Campus, 2010 North Market Street

- Loren Demerath

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Velo Dendro tour, Shreveport: 555 Herndon St

With some 100 people riding through East Shreveport in a green wave of high-viz shirts, Velo Dendro was a distinct success on Sat, Nov 7.

Hallie Dozier, forestry prof at LSU and former Shreveport resident, was articulate and informative as the tour guide. Matthew Linn, Caddo Commissioner and proprietor of Columbia Cafe, was accommodating as host and co-planner.

All ages were represented. There were tots in handlebar seats, small fry on their own small bikes, college students, 30-somethings and the sanhedrin.

A typical stop is seen in the photo above. Bruce Allen and wife, Kristin Dorothy Hannah, opened their yard at 555 Herndon to the tour.

The only question unanswered at the end of the day was "When and how do we do this again?"

- Robert Trudeau

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Last Meeting Summary (what a wild one!)

Meeting Notes for 11/2/9

In attendance: Matthew Linn, Maurice Loridans, Loren Demerath, Cynthia Keith, Ryan Tew, Ian Webb, Robert Trudeau, Caroline Majors, Feico Kempff.

The group discussed the sharrows that been painted in town along the southern half of the route of the upcoming "Velo Dendro" tree tour of city on Saturday. Those who helped paint had received permission from Mike Strong, head of the Department of Operational Services to do so. Hallie Dozier, Maurice Loridans, Steve Godfrey, Valerie Loridans, Micheal Feldman (from Providence House) were among those who helped. The template for sharrows was then donated to ABS along with the paint. After the sharrows appeared some homeowners near them had called DOS to ask about them, and they were told they were there to remind people to share the road with bicyclists. Mike Strong said he'd received compliments about them; Matt Baily, Assistant Director of Economic Development for the Mayor's office, said he'd seen them in every other city he'd been in except Shreveport, and that he welcomed them.

There was discussion about whether publicizing the sharrows would be seen as positive and create support, or create controversy.
It was said that marking this trail, and hopefully others, is useful for people to see that these are good coridors for bicycling around and about the city.

The group looked at NLCOG's maps that Lisa Frazier dropped by and discussed NLCOG's role in creating a more bikable, walkable city. It was noted that Bike/Ped Advisory Committee had been formed nine months ago, but hadn't met more than twice, and that NLCOG may be busy, or may not see it as a priority. Some wondered whether contributing to the maps would be a wasted effort, and may even slow down our progress: if our contributions don't get used, but we think they will be, we may stop pushing to make that contribution, and progress will stall without our knowing why. Some said we should sit down and have a conversation with NLCOG about what our expectations and intentions are.

There was much discussion about we can do as a group to further alternative transportation and make the city more walkable and bikable. It became a free-for-all mixer that was a lot of fun, but difficult to summarize. I'm working on it...

Don't Miss First Ever Bicycling Tree Tour of the City Saturday!

It's time everyone!
The first ever bicycling tree tour of the city!

We meet on Saturday, November 7th, at 9 a.m., at Columbia Cafe on Creswell.
We'll go slow and easy, take lots of breaks, and soak up plenty of urban tree knowledge!

And stay or drop by the reception afterwards from 1 to 3
to enjoy the live music of "A Fine Romance" trio!

Bring $10 for registration. For that you get a t-shirt and refreshments, not to mention the professionally guided tour of some of the city's most notable trees from Dr. Hallie Dozzier.

It promises to be a special day.
An interesting & fun experience for us to share!

Join us!