Monday, July 5, 2010

Cell phone tours by bus, bike n' foot, bike coop, SPAR customer service, bike racks, and a big grant all discussed at Friday Cohabitat work session

Notes by Loren Demerath.
Reminder: meeting Mon, July 5, from 6:00 to 7:00.

Jeannette Ginsburg, Garrett Johnson, Loren Demerath, and Carolyn Manning met on Friday at Cohabitat as part of an unofficial work session. Among the things we discussed:


Now that we’ve sent our letter and had email communications with Kip and Noma, we can probably hand off the Farmers Market – Artists Market negotiations to the Shreveport Arts Guild. They’re an organization of artists that’s probably best suited to handling the negotiations. It was mentioned that it’s conceivable that the Artists shouldn’t be located near the Farmers Market; that, for whatever reason, it would detract from the Farmers Market. That doesn’t seem likely to any of us, but we conceded that we don’t know everything there is to know about the situation.

Anyway, the likely outcome that seems reasonable is that Shelly Raigle, Kip, Pam, and a representative from the Shreveport Arts Guild will all get together and work it out.


We also discussed the video Jeannette had sent out showing a showing a bike tour of folk art in Los Angeles. We really the video’s tone and style, other than the fact that it was a bit long and never showed the route of the tour. We thought it would be a good way of publicizing any city tour.

We discussed different kinds of tours to have, tours of the city’s public art, historic architecture, sites of historic events, the city’s music history, etc. Jennette mentioned that the Goody-Clancy folks were given (or did they host?) a bus tour of the city as part of beginning the master planning process. Offering that tour again, maybe for $10 per person, perhaps as a fund-raiser for ABetterShreveport, could be an effective way of increasing interest in downtown revitalization, and of recruiting more people to help with ABS in general. Bus tours are more accessible than bike tours; could appeal to older people; could give maps of Sporttran bus routes during the ride.

For any tour, the system could be used that one project in L.A. has developed where you call a phone number and put in a certain code devoted to a given locale in order to hear the details related to a given site; can also record a message to contribute details for others to hear.


When discussing the bike coop, stages of development, the site, staffing, and aspirations were all discussed.

Site: Garrett mentioned that maybe it could be in or around the Highland Center. A good site given it’s centrality in Highland, and even the fact that it’s all downhill from any direction there. As much as we want to assist downtown, it’d been mentioned that it wouldn’t be seen as accessible to as many Shreveporters as perhaps a Highland location. Indeed, it’s tough to make it downtown on a bike if you don’t know about Marshall, and just one of two plausible entries from the south.


1—location for bike coop that could serve as a depository for donated old bikes until other stages are completed

2—collecting tools

3—bike stands (pricey; might need grant help)

4—staff and volunteers: people to serve as staff on weekends, maybe just Saturdays; often open three or four days a week in other cities; Job Corp could be a partner; as Shreve Corp is with Shreveport Green; can serve the youth in that they learn a new trade, also learn to follow through with tasks, to deal with people they’d be helping, design and administer projects, even design bikes for certain populations such as seniors. Kelsey, who’s organized GRITS in town, was working with Ian on a few workshops, and could be a person who might want to help, as might Greg Lewis of and who refurbishes and donates bikes to low income folks and is a long distance biker and friend of Ian Webb’s.

5—decide of days of the week and hours of operation.

6—develop signage and promote visibility and community awareness of the coop.

7—design and hold workshops; including inviting in “experts” such as those who regularly give safety clinics from the Leagues of American Bicyclists or locatable through such sites

Aspirations: We gotta be realistic. We ain’t Baton Rouge, or even Nacodoches or Ruston with larger student populations. But, who knows what might happen if new things were tried that serve the populations we do have. Pedal cars for seniors built for comfort and cargo room, with roofs and baskets? Bikes for hip hop fans, ready to be pimped out for maximum chilliness? Bikes for social groups, seven pedaling at once? Who knows what might make us a bicycling city? Whatever works to do it would serve as an example for similarly university-challenged cities like us.

But at minimum, we could use an old bike depository, and there’s no doubt there are enough old bikes in town to fill up whatever space we can get, and there’s also no shortage of unused spaces in town.


Loren questioned the importance of bike racks, but Jennette and Garrett straightened him out, reminding him how it looks and feels to park a bike on a tree or chain link fence: sloppy, unwelcome, unsafe, inappropriate. Bike racks being present also increase awareness of biking as a possibility, and is just a part of bicycling infrastructure.

To increase awareness of the lack of bike racks, a friend of Jennette’s took a lot of photographs of bikes locked to trees – Garrett’s is often locked in front of Robinson. Cyclists could keep in their bag a postcard they could leave that would say something like: “I rode my bike to your business today because… but I wasn’t able to park it…” To have a bike rack makes a business look urban, knowledgable, current, and accommodating.

Public installation of artistic bike racks, such as those designed by David Byrne, once of the Talking Heads, also beautifies the property. A grant could fund such public art installations, bolstering the local arts scene and our alternative transportation infrastructure at the same time.


Garrett (who, you’ll recall is a professional grant-writer working for ShRAC) discussed with Loren a grant opportunity being jointly funded by the EPA, the DOTD, and HUD to improve a city’s qualities of transportation, water, and air. It is has a 5 million dollar ceiling. It’s due August 28th, and it could be done if everyone “plays nice”.


Katy Rodden is a hoola hooper who’s going to school in Ruston, and was on an exchange program in South Carolina where she got into hooping. She tried to organize a collective hooping event, and called SPAR about it, and spoke to a gentleman there who gave her the impression it was impossible for her to use the space for that unless she had a very expensive insurance policy. She apparently felt like her idea was being unceremoniously crushed, and was very discouraged and even offended by the way she was treated. It was mentioned that this kind of protective view of parks will not draw young people to Shreveport, but drive them away.

(After the meeting we all went to the hoop and drum circle event at Veterans Park and it was great! Thanks for persevering Katy!)


Carolyn Manning said she had a good conversation with Stacye Palmer of the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program, from whom ABS won a grant a while ago. We haven’t been able to do much with them to this point, but we love Stacye and Carolyn said she just needs to know a list of things we need. Carolyn’s going to be in communication with Stacye about the kinds of things they can do for us to create a greenways plan for the city, or, better yet, help us create an overall bike-ped plan. It may be that combining the Stacye’s work with contributions from Tim Wachtel (SPAR planner) and Roy Jambor (MPC planner) we could end up with the bicycle-pedestrian master plan for the city that will then make greenways, bike paths, bike sharrows much more feasible to fund and construct.

Next meeting: Monday, 6 to 7 p.m.

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