Sunday, August 29, 2010

Time for A Better Shreveport, KSCL 91.3 fm, Mondays at 5 pm

Please tune in Mondays between 5 and 5:30 pm for a live discussion of local civic issues.

Hosts Loren Demerath and Robert Trudeau are joined by ABS members such as Carolyn Manning, bike advocate / realtor, and Stephanie Pedro, urban planner. Each week also features special guests.

Join the discussion with your question or remark by phoning 734-9101.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Australian Bicycling Center Featured on the Eco-Tech Minute

Here's a very relevant piece for us from the new "Eco-Tech Minute" that is broadcast on Red River Radio KDAQ 89.9 Wednesdays at 7:33 a.m. It describes a bicycling center in Melbourne Australia that's designed to help bike-commuters with showers, lockers, bike parking, and even bicycle maintenance! Thank you Al Bohl and Sciport for promoting a great idea!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Recycling Rumors, Implenting Master Plan, Radio Show, and more discussed at last meeting

In attendance: Robert Trudeau, Carolyn Manning, April Waren, Maurice Loridans, Loren Demerath, Cynthia Keith, Feico Kempff, Garrett Johnson.


Group briefly discussed the fundraiser for Dan Garner’s museum, “North by Northwest La” (NXNWLA) that occured the night before at the old Woolworth building--516 Texas St. across from the courthouse. Robert mentioned how it was bought it when he learned it was in danger as a structure and has allowed it to be used as a place where teens can go that is relatively safe. It is 18-and-over friendly, has a lot of loud music “that’s good for teenagers,” April said; “watch out for tinitus” Loren said.


The group discussed the future agendas of the radio show, and among the topics mentioned were the dog park with Cynthia, bicycle commuting with Maurice (now set for September 13th), “Shreveportitis” with Jon Soul, Michael Carmody, or Jeff Welborn; bicycle coop with Garrett and Jennette, building coops with Dan Marcalus and Steve Shelburne; community gardening with Grace Peterson, Jon, and/or Leia Lewis; community art with Leia, etc.

Loren mentioned that if people would call the show's number (734-9101), and leave a message about a topic they'd like to hear about, we could play it on the air and show how people at large can contribute to the show by submitting questions and comments that way.

[Later in the week, Feico Kempff suggested shows on the Master Plan--perhaps chapter by chapter. Also, April Dahm suggested she and Caroline do a show on ABS Downtown, as the group is beginning to get more active again. Both ideas were supported by others over the email list.]


The group discussed the perceptions of the Hamels Park area after the drownings. Cynthia worried it would hurt the prospects of the dog park being located there, but the rest of the group didn’t think so. The mayor (when Cynthia and I chatted with him after the bicycling photo session) said he didn’t think that would be a problem. The pond being there is one of the assets to the dog park being there, as well as the fact that there’s parking.

Carolyn said the city needs to get the pools back open and start giving swimming lessons. Others have said it should be something that’s taught as part of physical education.


The group then talked about the bike ride coming up on Thursday the 2nd and the need for a “sag wagon,” i.e., a car that will follow the group in case anyone needs help.

The e-vite for the forum is going to be revised tomorrow and sent out. A pre-revised e-vite went out earlier and is being distributed, but, ce la vi.

[The bike ride will be one option. The other will be a walk. The walk will be rehearsed Monday the 30th at 6:00 p.m. from the old Central Fire Station at Common and Crockett.]


For the forum we’d like to provide beer and wine: sufficient for two drinks per person.

The food theme will be “Breads and Spreads” (April is homebaking bread and making the spreads!). Garrett noted homebrewers could be solicited for a brew. Carolyn will volunteer to buy paper cups, plates and cutlery.


The group discussed the rumor that the city has not succeeded in finding a taker for our to-be-recycled plastic and glass. It was noted that it may be more cost effective to get people used to recycling the most common forms than to only turn in the forms we successfully recycling. On a related note, Maurice reported that SuperOne and Brookshires are giving a 5 or 10 cent per bag discount if you use your own bag.


Feico reported on his trip downstate to the Keep Louisiana Beautiful conference, funded by the Committee of 100: the focus at the conference was to limit the amount of litter in our cities and towns. Stats: the amount of litter on the ground is about 10-15% of what’s actually there, and the rest is less than 4 inches long and that stuff is there for hundreds of years. One program involves going to elementary schools and addressing kids who will then tell their parents not to litter. Today’s ad says its 40 million plus dollars out of Louisiana’s coffers to clean up litter. The Coates Bluff cleanups brought home the fact that a lot of litter is carried by the storm drainage system, Maurice noted. The Bayou Chapter of the Ozark Society regularly does a Red River cleanup. If you cleaned up every plastic bottle from the river and returned the next weekend it would all be back. Carolyn talked about cleaning up around her property and it never stopped. Ron Hubbard (??) once told the story of cleaning up outside of Libby Glass where employees exited, picking up trash; it took a year, but eventually people kept it clean and he didn’t have to clean it up anymore.

Feico said one person at LSU organized a cleanup before and after LSU football games. She got a lot of corporate sponsors, e.g., from beer and soda companies for money and containers. She got 17 tons of trash over the season.

Feico said Sidney Torres was a person who started with a truck and generators cleaning up in New Orleans, then leased more trucks, now has a whole fleet of trucks. Now he has a reality show on tv called Trashman.

Feico also attended the CPEC (Center for Planning Excellence) convention that is the affiliate for Smart Growth America where they talked about what’s evolved since Katrina. He described some of the designs that recieved awards:
  • Holly Grove Market in New Orleans, a community garden and coop where the people who grow then sell at a farmer’s market, then put that money back into their farm. ( around Carollton Ave.)
  • The downtown store, Kress and Company, using fed and state and rehab tax credits to build a condominium and restaurant combo at Kress Third and Market. (Kress was the Walmart of the 1920’s) Feico visited the building and met the developer. Feico also met with AARP about their Livable Communities program.
  • North Boulevard in Baton Rouge also received an award for being put on a “street diet” and giving protected space to pedestrians.
Jason Tudor, the Associate State Director for Community Outreach for AARP said he would like to come to Shreveport and speak to our group -- and we would enjoy welcoming him! (Thoughts of a radio show appearance too!). AARP, CPEC, and the Lt. Gov’s office head the live-able communities council. Centenary College is a live-able communities council member and Loren is the go-to person.

Feico brought several publications back, including a Louisiana Bicycle Map, and the magazine, “On Common Ground” by the National Association of Realtors’ Smarth Growth organization.


The group resolved to thank the Committe of 100 for sending Feico to the Keep Louisiana Beautiful Conference in Baton Rouge last week. Much was learned and good connections were made!

Loren nominated Susan Fontaine to serve as the Chief Administrative Details Officer of ABS that would include keeping our checking account and domain registrations up-to-date. The group unanimously voted in favor of the nomination. (Hooray for Susan! And a big thank you to her as well!)


Maurice reported the new bike rack outside the main library, unfortunately, is what’s known in bicycling circles as a “wheel-bender”. An old style bike rack meant for kids’ bikes; when larger, lighter bikes get knocked over while parked there, the wheels often get bent.

As a model of what bike paths can be--in Louisiana--Garrett recommended the Taminey Trace bike trail that goes 30 miles from Covington through Abita Springs. Can stay at bed and breakfasts along that rails to trails project path, even sip beer as the bikes go by at the Abita Brew Pub.


It was mentioned that the big city wide Master Plan meeting is this Saturday (9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the convention center); recommendations will be made to MPC, they’ll be working at keeping up with the plan; it’s not an instruction manual.
Loren mentioned that some of his students in Urban Sociology will be there. His class is looking at different projects sketched in the Implementation chapter of the Master Plan to take on as service-learning projects.

Dan Marcalus reminded us that 6:30 to 8:30 Thursday is the District B City Council Forum for Highland, South Highland, Downtown.

At Sustainapalooza it was announced that Shreveport’s first Leed Certified Platinum building that local architect Kim Mitchel will be designing it. International Community Renewal has done their asbestos abatements and appears on the way to making a finished building a reality.

As noted above, the bike ride on September 2nd will be one way of meeting candidates while experiencing downtown and exchanging views on its potential. A walk will be the other option. That walk will be rehearsed Monday the 30th at 6:00 p.m. We will meet at the old Central Fire Station at Common and Crockett.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Meeting with national Park Service: how to get help creating a Bike & Ped master Plan for Shreveport and additional issues

Notes by Loren Demerath.

All abuzz with the success of the first radio show (see the post below), and with Stacye Palmer with us all the way from New Orleans, the focus of the meeting was on ABS’s partnership with the National Park Service’ Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program.


Stacye Palmer gave some background on the grant:

* Bill Lane was initially the lead for the project; he created a conceptual map of Coates Buff (NPS can’t have the liability of a detailed map) for Coates Bluff.
* In 2001 Stacye and Deidre Hewitt came up and met with Shreveport Green.
* Stacye’s been working with Michael Domingue is the office of state trails and is her state partner, but is also more than that; he’s the equivilent of us but larger--for the whole state. Our trails will be part of his network. He handles LWCF funding.
* Stacye said its unusual to work with a group like ours that has already so much going on in ideas, events, and planning, so where NPS comes in isn’t typical here but there is organizing that can be done.

Stacye reviewed how NPS has an MOU with the ASLA (Association of Landscape Architects). Stacye will be more involved with this than as she was with the Lafitte Corridor; this is an official project because Loren has submitted an application with requests for continuation, has gotten a DUNS number, etc.

By reading the blogs Stacye has been able to get an understanding of what we’re doing beyond government policy and political statements. Involving community partners is the next step.


Steph and Caroline asked Stacye about what RCTA's capacities are for helping us with the following:

1. Coates Bluff: a success this group could have on the ground and demonstrating what a greenway can be, and a way of getting support for a plan for a network of bike paths and greenways.
2. A bike-ped master plan: it would take a lot of money, about $250,000 minimum.
3. The greenways plan: it would cost even more, about $1,000,000. (Will joked he’d do it for half that; Steph and Caroline said they’d like to partner.)

Stacye said NPS does workshops and community outreach; they also get announcements for grants and funding assistance they can forward to us; they also have a landscape architect who can do some things -- though we have Dana Brown already; they have a graphics person who can help with designing brochures. Stacye has been trying to gather information on models that are similar to our situation. Mandeville here in Louisiana, and other cities, some in Pennsylvania. Stacye can help with grant writing as well.

It was noted that Shreveport’s new master plan does not have detailed plans for bike lanes, sharrows, and bike paths -- as most such documents wouldn’t; its a foundational launch pad for such plans. As such a bike-ped plan amounts to an implementation of the master plan.

Caroline looked over the bike-ped plans NPS has done and thought maybe there’s a way of piecing together our resources: some from NPS, some from the consultants they have access to, some from our local landscape architects and planners who care about the project. Loren noted that Stephanie and Caroline have already invested a lot of their time in it.


Steph noted that the city won’t fund something that’s not equitable, so we need to get buy-in for the plan from all parts of the city. Thus, its important to have professional analysis of the city to make sure the plan is equitable and reaches all parts of it. Creating the plan then involves a lot of outreach work that we could use Stacye’s help with. (Robert noted that Cat-Daddy is the unofficial mayor of Mooretown in West Shreveport. He could partner with us to involve that area of the city for a bike-ped plan.) Stacye said she would gather data, it was noted ABS volunteers could, and others, possibly.

As for funding, it was noted that Parish Commissioner Matthew Linn has talked about the need for a bike-ped plan. The Parrish’s deadline was Sunday for funding requests, but there may be possibilities in the near future for making requests.

Caroline mentioned there are groups that are looking for opportunities like this to do the planning pro-bono -- she was in graduate school at the University of Washington and did a project in Louisiana as part of her training.


It was concluded that we need to put together a scope of services with NPS. That would include a timeline, and we could then go to Caddo Parrish for supplementary funding. It was mentioned that we could do dynamic job of pitching it with all the work we’ve done already, and given the position the city is in.

Caroline, Steph, and Stacye set a date as September 1st for meeting and making strategy.

Will said it sounds like we’re next in the cue for work from ASLA. It was noted that it sounds they’re on the hook and we should work to keep them on the hook.


As for more immediate, concrete things to do, Will commented that the sharrows are small, but effective ways of changing the culture and raising expectations for bicycle transportation. Steph said we’re lucky to have a city that will let us paint wherever we think is prudent. It’s a chance of a lifetime that we shouldn’t pass up.

The group also discussed the the bike ride warm-up for the city council forum, and how it too should raise expectations for alternative transportation in the city.

It was noted that we should expect safer walking conditions as well. For example, Byrd students crossing Line Avenue are in a dangerous situation jay-walking at Forest and Line. Something should be done about it. The group agreed ABS should draft a letter to send the DOS and/or MPC and/or City Council.

There was also consensus that the group should draft a letter to the Mayor’s Office, City Councilpersons, and the Parish Commission requesting ordinances that mirror the new state law mandating complete street standards for all new state road construction. The rationale for this seems obvious: this is an improvement to state standards that should be followed by cities and parishes.

Caroline noted that if there is a choice between bike-ped plan should come before the greenways plan because the former will tell us where bike paths, for example, are most needed and least needed.

Feico noted there appear to be two institutions that should have people biking to them but don’t, LSU Health Center and LSUS.

Cynthia noted that community meetings are going on right now with the new Police Chief with city officials are sitting right there; we could make sure one of us is at every one of the remaining four and note the safety problems for walkers and bicyclists at different places in the city. Some man at the last meeting complained about the Southfield and Youree intersection as being dangerous for him and his family. Mike Strong was at the meeting.

Stephanie noted that we should ask about urban design elements that combat crime at the forums. One mayoral candidate’s crime plan published in the Forum didn’t say anything about that, but in many places that’s the only thing you can do. “CPTED” is crime prevention through environmental design; e.g., the broken windows theory where enforcing maintenance or cleaning up graffiti lowers crime; or putting more eyes on the street by making sidewalks more walkable; lighting; having windows on the street as a design element; the distance from the street of houses and stores; the last chapter of the master plan addresses those issues.

Next meeting: Monday at 6:00 p.m.

In the meantime, considering calling 734-9101 to record a comment for us to discuss on the radio show, "Time for a Better Shreveport" Mondays at 5:00 p.m. on 91.3.

Also attending the meet: Robert Trudeau, Steph Pedro, Cynthia Keith, Feico Kempff, Will Lowe, April Waren, Carolyn Manning, Caroline Majors, Stacye Palmer

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"Time for ABetterShreveport" Debuts!

Our new radio show, "Time for ABetterShreveport" debuted Monday afternoon at 5:00 on 91.3 FM KSCL.

Robert Trudeau, Loren Demerath, Carolyn Manning, Stephanie Pedro, and special guest Stacye Palmer discussed what ABS is all about and some of the projects we've been working on, including:
  • the city council forum Sept. 9
  • the forum warm-up bike ride to get to know candidates on Sept. 2
  • downtown development
  • the Texas Avenue Community Association (
  • the Coates Bluff Greenway project
  • a plan for a city-wide network of bike paths and greenways
  • the comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian master plan
It sure was fun, and we'd like others to join us.

Call 734-9101 any time and leave a message with your question, comment, or idea for a better Shreveport; we'll broadcast it on the air during our next show!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Listen to A Better Shreveport on Kscl, 91.3, Mon, Aug 16, 5 pm; National Park Service at ABS meeting Mon, Aug, 16, 6 pm

A Better Shreveport
Originally uploaded by trudeau

Another fine meeting last night, writes Loren Demerath.
In a nutshell, with deserving exclamation points:

* Radio Show debuts Monday the 16th at 5:00!
* National Park Service is here to meet with us the 16th at 6:00!
* Ride the Bus for Research Thursday the 12th at 3:30 @ TGIFridays!
* Party at Carolyn’s Wednesday at 6 and on!
* Greenway term jettisoned! ...well maybe.

In attendance: Robert Trudeau, Carolyn Manning, April Waren, Garrett Johnson, Loren Demerath

The group recorded several snippets for the radio show to debut Monday, though the next day Loren and Robert decided a live format with two to three ABS members discussing a topic would be a better, more do-able format.

Nonetheless, the live two or three person format notwithstanding, the following segments may be used at some point:

* Loren spoke on a bike shop owner’s story about a heavy woman who thought she was too big to ride a two-wheeler. The shop owner showed her that she could, and gave her a brief lesson in riding. She bought a bike, and came back four weeks later & fifty pounds lighter. She said it changed her life; she rode it every day, loved it.
* Carolyn spoke on riding her bike to show houses. She said just today she rode from her real estate office to a house she was showing, and she loved it. She described her route.
* On the other hand, April spoke on her frustration at not being able to walk to the grocery store on the other side of Youree from her apartment complex.
* Feico talked about representing ABS and Shreveport at the Keep Louisiana Beautiful conference; how the conference is about more than reducing litter, but about not polluting our environment and sustainable living generally, as well as transportation and consumption issues that relate to pollution.
* Garrett talked about the renovations of the Central Fire Station for SRAC’s new offices that will include an emerging artists gallery, as well as a performance space in the old engine room, and a five story tower space for an artist in residence.

In addition to recording segments for the radio show, the group heard news and reports from various quarters:


April reported there is a woman who’s recently moved to town, Margarita Hill, who’s recently completed the paperwork for a non-profit that would help families who have family members that are incarcerated. One of her ideas is to put on dvds videos of prisoners reading stories for their respective children to watch. This would help maintain relationships between children and their incarcerated parents, not to mention encouraging the practice of reading to children that’s been linked to future academic success. (Louisiana Endowment for the Humanties nationally successful program “Primetime Family Reading” is based on that link.)
One of the models is “critical resistance” based in Berkley California. (Robert said a great piece of equipment she could use for that is the Flip camera.)

The group then enjoyed a brief digression into talk about crime control, gun control, rights to gun ownership, and speculation about areas where violent crime happens to be low but gun ownership is high. (Multiple views were shared and respected.)


The group discussed the term “greenway,” and how it’s like librarians giving special abbreviations to their card catalogs outsiders don’t understand (e.g., Centenary’s “MOXIE” catalog, or the “LOUIS” system, or Shreve Memorial Library’s “iBistro”). Urban planners and wanna be’s (like ourselves) might like the way the term “greenway” connotes many things at once, but most folks just aren’t sure what it means, or how to react to a proposal that we build a network of greenways. But using the terms “bike paths and nature trails” is more direct. People may not know what to do with a greenway, but they know how to use a trail.


Group also discussed the work being done for the forum, including the plan for a “dress-rehearsal” of the bike ride warm-up to the city council forum (about two weeks from today). This is where ABS members and others will have the opportunity to get to know the candidates in the course of riding from Central Fire Station to Cohabitat, where there will be a post-ride reception. During the ride, certain features of downtown will be highlighted, such as the historical architecture, the wide sidewalks, the need for bike-racks, and the general importance of bike-ability and walk-ability to a vibrant downtown.


Thursday, at 3:30, in front of TGIFriday’s on Youree, April, Carolyn, Jennette, Stephanie will be catching the bus and doing experiential research on the bus system as a way of preparing for their meeting with Gene Eddy, director of Sportran. Anyone is welcome to join them.

April noted that she would love to be able to ride the bus for her job. She’d save $500-$600 a month on gas alone. She visits commercial properties for her job as an independent agent for Aflac.


Garrett said the HUD grant is due on August 22nd. (This is the HUD-DOT-EPA partnership grant that’s designed to help housing, transportation, and economic development.) Although SRAC hasn’t been called about it yet, they expect to be, since they’re the arts part of it. It’s grant opportunity is part of an initiative from President Obama to facilitate sustainable living, fair share of transportation usage, and development. For the next five years they’ll be doling out significant funds to metropolitan areas like Shreveport/Bossier. (Apparently Bossier had some problems with it, but they’re back on board now.) Go grant writers, go!


Stacye Palmer of the National Park Service will be coming up from New Orleans on Monday and we’ll be turning our whole meeting over to her agenda. As soon as she comes up Carolyn will be meeting with her, and anyone else who wants to meet with her, just let Carolyn know. She’ll be here to work on the bike-ped master plan, the greenways plan, and the Coates Bluff project. IT’S A BIG MEETING Y’ALL! PLEASE COME MONDAY THE 16TH!

Speaking of get togethers, Carolyn’s hosting a party/meeting to pre-meet before Stacye comes on Wednesday. BYOB, and word is, April will be cooking! 149 Carroll, two blocks south of Southfield off Grover.

Making a better Shreveport, it’s just a party!

Wanna make your own town square? They did in Dallas!

You've got to out this inspiring article about d.i.y. public spaces--right over there in Dallas. It's by our friend Stephan Dare of (who thanks Shreveporters, btw, for going to that cite and sharing their views on Don Shea).

Just look at the before and after pictures in the article of a street in Oak Cliff. Don't they give you ideas? Hmm. What Shreveport spaces could be made more protected and share-able?