Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A fit with Fit Cities, Saturday's Open Meeting at Centenary to Plan Bike Paths & Nature Trails Noted at Last Meeting

In attendance: Maurice Loridan, Adam Ferrell, Garrett Johnson, Susan Fontaine, Sabra Hicks, Misty Alexander, Loren Demerath

The recent news story in the Shreveport Times was noted that describes the and plan to rework the Kings and Youree Intersection; the plan has in place since 1989, and that is before before meeting pedestrian and bicyclist transportation needs became integrated into common practices (and it still largely isn't, it was noted).

But that may be changing, as that very evening the city council voted to move ahead with support of a bicycle-pedestrian plan for the city. Kudos and congrats to Steph Pedro, Caroline Majors, and supporting organizations such as the Community Foundation! Maurice was there, among others, speaking in support of it. When it was asked what's being planned for North Shreveport, the McCain Creek bicycle path was noted, and Steph Pedro said the plan is to put spokes into every district. The purpose is as much to facilitate safe bicycle transportation as it is recreation.


The upcoming meeting at Centenary was noted. Loren, and some of his Centenary students had distributed fliers throughout the neighborhood to recruit residents to come.

This is a rare chance for people to not only show their support for making their city more walkable and bikeable, but actually helping to shape where the paths and trails would go and what the other all system would look like!

Free coffee and donuts! Hurley Music Building (next to the library on Woodlawn Ave.), room 201. Everyone is invited and encouraged to come, no matter where you live in the city.


The Dog Park Fundraiser was taking place that evening, was later reported to be a success. Kudos to Cynthia, Carolyn Manning, Steph Pedro, and others on the Dog Park Committee!

There was some discussion of the dog park at the meeting, including how one plan for the park to be put at Hammel's might cut off the bike path. One approach has been to say to the city, here's what we want, you tell us where you want it; but others say we should play more of a role in saying where it should be.


Sabra Hicks of the YMCA's Camp Forbing, and Misty Alexander, the director of the Fit Cities Challenge (Janie Richardson is another coordinator) described the program during the meeting, and they were on the radio show earlier that evening. They noted the program has existed in Texas, but not here, yet Louisiana is worse than Texas in obesity rates (one person noted hearing that 1 out of 3 adults in Louisiana is obese, and 2 out of 3 are overweight). The pupose of the program is to motive city residents to engage in activities that facilitate fitness. YMCA has been the umbrella organization for it, and a primary element of it has been the Shreveport/Bossier oriented web site, That program can help promote events and activities that would make our families healthier; they can provide assistance in organizing events, recommending speakers, and publicizing events on its web sit. One of their own events has been “Run, Ride, Walk to the Moon,” which Misty has administered. They have given pedometers to the kids involved the goal is to total the 500 million steps it would take to get to the moon.

The opportunities for our kids to get fit appear to be declining. School officials have responded to testing and accountability pressures by cutting out physical education, or reducing its priority. Often it meets in temporary buildings, where, practically speaking, it is difficult to have an effective P.E. Class, particularly when it is only held once a week. The Picard Center at U.L. Lafayette has found a strong statistical relationship between fitness and academic performance.

Another program is organizing and promoting is a “cyclovia” on Texas St. in November when there will also be a health fair and featuring things like Yoga. Classes going to be free and right there on the riverfront. The group was enthusiastic to hear that and noted the obvious parallels with ABS' own publicizing of the pre-parade cyclovias over Mardi Gras parade routes, and the drum circle and hoopla. Other healthy things that could be promoted were mentioned, such as the Portbelly project, Lotus studio, the Bicycling Tour of City Trees “Velo Dendro.” (It was noted that date has yet to be decided, but will not be on October 14th when the Tour de Goodwill is.)

Misty noted that looking at the partners on the web site, one might think a lot of them might otherwise be in competition with each other, such as Shumpert and Willis Knighton, or different bike shops; but supporting the program just it just means you support the mission statement. {It was later noted that ABS can vote at the next meeting on whether to ask to become an official partner and supporter of Fit Cities.}

Misty and Sabra noted that their program is available to help in things like the bike trail and much of the work ABS does. Anything active in our community should be on their web site, even things like community gardening. {Misty has subsequently posted events on the Fit Cities site, such as the hoopla and the Centenary Hosted Community Meeting on Coates Bluff this Saturday (9:00-11:30 at Hurley Music School, room 201.)}

Garrett Johnson asked if maybe the Fun Run could go by the Maker's Fair, but it's already scheduled to be out at Camp Forbing. But, it was noted that they're looking for a way to wrap up the walk to the moon, and maybe some synergy with the Maker's Fair would be appropriate. The Maker's Fair is about making your own stuff and celebrating kids that making their own bodies fit might not be out of place.


Oliver Jenkins will do a “walk with your Councilman” on April 30th at 9 a.m., and Jeff Everson is also planning one for May 14th.

It was noted the new state law requires pedestrian and cyclist needs to be considered in the design of roadways. Although such consideration also runs throughout the new Master Plan, there's no equivalent city ordinance. One critical need is to have some stricture in place that would require developments to be permeable for walkers and cyclists. The sad fact that many people cannot walk or bike to destinations within shouting distance likely contributes to our ill-health and obesity rates.

Deborah also noted that pull of entertainments inside is stronger than it was; that there's not as much activity outside as there used to be; she's found activities need to be seen as entertaining or they'll go back in the house; you can't make a judgment call on whether or not they do need to exercise.

Deborah works in the school system and noted that they need outside people giving exercise curriculum and supervision to students. The teachers will give the time out of the day in some cases, but usually don't have the time set it up. (As Deborah is one of the heads of the Valencia Park community garden, Maurice noted that Grace Peterson made a good city council presentation today on community gardening and urban agriculture; they're using Valencia Park as a model.)

Various characteristics of our non-walking city were noted. Deborah lives in Highland and would walk to work but would have to continually turn down ride offers as she walked. When working at SHRAC Garrett would offer to deliver things and they'd think he'd need to borrow a car because he bicycled to work, when he could get around quite efficiently on the bike. In Susan's building it seems people don't know that there are lots of things to eat downtown, right near their building. Garrett would bring things back to the office and they'd say “where'd you get that?” while they'd be going all the way down Youree to get their smoothie or whatever it might be.


Deborah has been thinking about how to push forward the dishwasher and not use so much styrofoam and creating so much non-recyclable waste. Deborah was inspired by the story of the barge of trash that had no place to put it. Susan mentioned knowing about the tonnage of waste that goes into the landfill can make an impact on people.

Maurice takes his own compartmentalized plastic plate with a cover and has them serve him there and they always thank him and wish more people would do it. Maurice noted California and other places have taken steps to ban plastic bags and Styrofoam.

Deborah wanted to put that on the agenda soon with ABS about making steps like banning things or creating incentives.

It was noted that Pratt won't pick up from schools and organizations; the YMCA as well.

The next meeting will be an overall update and future planning meeting.

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