Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Jon Soul encounters "grotesque" salvinia clogs on Bayou Pierre

Jon reported tonight towards the end of his journey (see below for other posts) running into several "grotesque" salvinia clogs on Bayou Pierre.

On the bright side though--and it's much brighter there overall--most of the time he was free and clear, and several times he caught himself saying aloud, "I can't believe how beautiful this is!"

This could be a big part of a better Shreveport and region: uncovering this natural gem in our own back yard!

Dog Day Afternoon at Marilynn's Was A Huge Success!

The Dog Park Alliance had a pawty--dogs, music, food, beer, bandannas, and great people came for fun and clean pets on a lovely Sunday afternoon!

We could not have pulled it off without help from our 25+ volunteers, who acted as dog washers.  Together we raised almost $2500.   The Dog Park Alliance is in full fundraising mode with a Sportspectrum Dog Run on May 26.  We'll have another dog wash in the summer at Marilynn's if they agree.

See here for more pictures!

Jon Soul's documentation of via canoe trip of Bayou Pierre's state of health progresses!

Below are pictures from Jon Soul's steady progress down Bayou Pierre in his quest to document and publicize the fragile richness of our watershed ecosystem. He's headed to Natchitoches and hopes to make it there by the end of the week. (Got off late Saturday morning due to the need for thorough A.V. tech training by professional cinematographer and trip assistant, Dan First.)

at times quite polluted at times beautifully pristine

a fine specimen of the modern species,
"the plastic bag tree"
proliferating all over the country! Jon's supplies

And below is his route. Stay tuned for further updates!

View Jon Soul's Pierre Bayou Documentation Expedition in a larger map

Monday, March 26, 2012

Two views of education legislation ahead: Jackie Lansdale, chief of Red River United teachers' assoc and Dodie Horton, legislative assistant to State Rep Henry Burns, on KSCL, fm 91.3, at 5 pm Mon, March 26

Red River Teachers Assoc leader Jackie Lansdale and Dodie Horton, legislative assistant to State Rep Henry Burns, will apprise the education issues facing the voters in this session on the weekly public affairs program Time for A Better Shreveport.

Robert Poole, Centenary student, will chat about the service work he performed as part of The Big Event.

Hosts are Loren Demerath, Carolyn Manning and Robert Trudeau, board members of A Better Shreveport.

Info: 869 5297
stream at

Sunday, March 25, 2012

No meeting tomorrow, and an update on Jon Soul's Bayou Pierre Expedition

First, just a note that we've cancelled our regular meeting for tomorrow so folks can attend the TedX talks at 6:00 p.m. at BCC tomorrow night.

But for those of you wanting to know how Jon Soul is faring on his expedition down Bayou Pierre via canoe to Natchitoches, this week, this is the place. He'll be calling in to me every night with his location and notable observations.

The first day, Jon got off pretty late, having had to go through extensive camera training from professional cinematographer and expedition video technical assistant, Dan Furst. But Jon made it to Flournoy Lucas Rd., where he awaited pickup from Dan, and they both spent that first night at Camp Forbing.

Today, Jon made it to what the cycling community knows as "the crossroads," Rt. 175 and Ellerbe Rd. He noted some great put-in sites with easy access for canoes and kayaks along the way.

The wildlife highlights today were extraordinary: a river otter, a salamander, deer, bass, geese, hawks, seven beaver (all together; came barreling off the bank, making a huge ruckus doing it, one big one—maybe the male—came out and gave a big tale slap.)

Sounds beautiful doesn't it? And that's Shreveport water down there!

Stay tuned for his post tomorrow!

Centenary College's "Big Event" helps make BIG progress on Coate Bluff mountain bike trails!

The mountain bike trail on the east side of the Bayou Pierre slough will complement the Coates Bluff nature Trail, and has begun to take shape!

Centenary students on a morning of public service called The Big Event were brought to Valencia Community Center on Sat, Mar 24, and divided into work groups by Dr. Loren Demerath, Centenary Sociologist and ABetterShreveport member. Along with ABS member Robert Trudeau, two members of Centenary's biology department, Dr.'s Ed and Beth Leuck, help lead teams that worked towards each other on the north-south section of the trail. Trudeau and Leuck's team began clearing above the bike green at River Oaks Dr. On the east-west section, Centenary pre-med student Luke Lisherness was among an all student team that headed east, eventually meeting up with a team of made-up almost exclusively of the Centenary Math Department with Dr. Katherine Brandl, Dr. Mark Goadrich, and Dr. Mark Schlatter, and also DR. Greg Butcher, head of Centenary's neuroscience program.

The main work remaining on that trail is a job for a good power mower. ABS also proposes a cut through the forest along the access road to reach the bike path underpass. (We plan on talking to Cole Guthrie, lead developer of the new L.L. Coleman development there and the much-appreciated guest at last week's ABS meeting about that possibility!)

View New and Future Trails in a larger map
The blue lines represent the trails cut yesterday, the red lines segments yet-to-be-made, the purple is the proposed connecting trail.

More info to come on future work events. Meanwhile the curious may find abundant evidence of the morning's work by heading into the woods on the Coates Bluff nature trail at either of the two entrances: next to the Montessori School on Sevier St., or through the open gate at the southeast corner of Valencia park.


Friday, March 16, 2012

National Bike to Work Week is May 14 - 18; let's begin Shreveport activities in April

May is National Bike Month. Shreveport bike enthusiasts are planning to create events in April.

The League of American Bicyclists is the national sponsor of Bike Month. This year Bike to Work Week is May 14-18 and Bike to Work Day is Friday, May 18.

Robert Trudeau, Stephanie Pedro, Garrett Johnson, Maurice Loridans and others will create plans that will focus on Shreveport bicycle commuting in April - so that a media event is ready for Nat. Bike to Work week in May.

Please join us! Pop a note to me at or on FB.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Attorney and rider John Settle on biking: Time for A Better Shreveport at 5 pm, Mon, Mar 12

Velo Dendro Shreveport, 2010 by trudeau
Velo Dendro Shreveport, 2010, a photo by trudeau on Flickr.

John Settle, attorney and active rider via the Shreveport Bicycle Club, will be principal guest in a chat about the fun, safety and the future of bicycling in Shreveport.

Settle is widely appreciated for his recent sponsorship of bicycle safety billboards.

Additional guests expected: Attorney and biker Maurice Loridans and non-attorney and biker Garrett Johnson (why he hasn't become one we cannot explain).

Time for A Better Shreveport is hosted by Loren Demerath, Carolyn Manning and Robert Trudeau.

Stream the program at
869 5297

Check out an A Better Shreveport meeting Mon at 6 pm, Wright Bldg, Centenary campus.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Meetings with Parish Commissioner and MPC Planner on Making a Bikable City

In attendance: Brian Salvatore, Barbara Jerrell, William Hartman, John Gilliland, Katherine Brandl, Maurice Loridans, Loren Demerath, Cynthia Keith, Feico Kempff


Last week, some members of ABS who are bicycling advocates attended a meeting set up by Caddo Commissioner Matthew Linn. The purpose of the meeting was for ABS to get to know the Metropolitan Planning Commisssion’s new person in charge of implementing standards set out by the master plan, Dara Sanders. Maurice Loridans, John Gilliland, William Hartman, Ian Webb and Caroline Majors Eckl all met with Dara and Matthew.

The group was happy to note that the meeting seemed to reveal a genuine enthusiasm on the part of Commissioner Linn for making the Shreveport-Bossier metroplex more bikable, and Dara Sanders’ willingness to tackle that task. Dara is working on a number of things now, apparently, but after that will be in a position to address bike-ped issues fully.

It appears that our job is to convince the city council, mayor, and/or parish commision that MPC should be commissioned to direct the planning, painting, signage, and—potentially—construction of bike paths and the complete streets portion of the master plan. Monies are available now through the shale but won’t be in the future.

(The group briefly discussed the structure of MPC and other bodies. The MPC is a hybrid of the city and the parish; it’s the zoning body and is controlled 1/3 by the city council, 1/3 by the mayor, and 1/3 by the parish. NLCOG doesn’t have any teeth as in law-making capacity, but is a voluntary association of city a

nd parish governments. DDA is within a small segment of the city.)

The group discussed some of the specific ideas offered at the meeting, including a wheel-like system of routes and paths, and an ordinance that makes the state mandates for “complete streets” apply within the city as well. Maurice’s map of routes he’s developed as a person who has cycled for transportation throughout the city for 10 years now, was found by NLCOG. He now has it again and has since added to it. It was noted that NLCOG could help us get Bossier involved too.

The group had a quite an energetic discussion over the question of the degree to which trying to procure money for planning is worth the effort when there appears to be funding at the ready for paint, signage, and construction. It was noted that many a plan just sits on a shelf, and that we don’t want to waste an opportunity to improve our city’s bikeability. On the other hand, the group agreed at last week’s meeting that those who meeting with Matthew and Dara should communicate the group’s belief in the value of well-planned facilities. Indeed, Maurice expressed to Dara in that he didn’t want any “half-assed facilities” that create problems where there aren’t any now. Segregated facilities (e.g., bike lanes) where we don’t need them, such as on quiet residential neighborhoods. William noted that’s why a plan is necessary: if you just go with complete streets you can end up with just segments of things that don’t make sense. We’ve seen plans of bike paths that go just to parks and not the college campus just a mile further.


Loren said he thinks government officials have a tendency not to hire urban planners for the same reason home owners tend not to hire interior decorators: a professional would be nice, but it’s not a hard job figure out, so you can save money by doing it yourself. The proper analogy, though, may be something where the stakes are higher, such as market research. You can guess where and how to advertize, but if you guess wrong, you’re throwing your money away, and it’s not something you’re likely to do well without training.


Maurice made two different points on the effectiveness of plans. One, that they aren’t always used—many a plan does nothing more than sit on a shelf and gather dust. Two, that planners don’t always succeed in creating useful plans because they don’t live the experience for which they’re planning. A planner making a bike plan, for example, should be a bicyclist. Loren commented that in proper planning bicyclists are who the planners study and interview to create the plan. Then again, the notion of proper planning changes. (They thought Brazilia was properly planned once; but it’s not a very love-able city.)


A bond was not brought up in the meeting as a possible funding mechanism.

Caroline pointed how she and Steph weren’t given nearly enough money to complete a plan. It was noted the proportion of money going to planning out of the total is likely a lot, so the cost may be difficult for people to accept.

What Dara will be able to act on will be things that coming up. From here forward when we do anything new, we’re going to make it complete etc.

Apparently it was noted in the meeting that an important government official’s window looks out on the levee and so we can’t go north with levee-top bike trail (!!). William said that’s why we need the private sector to be working on the plan.

There is a need for an educational component to bike-abilty. There was talk about funding for that component. People talked about the danger of having conversations with bicyclists on the road. Maurice said the nation-wide advice is to smile and wave with all fingers.

What Dara will do wasn’t clear in the meeting. It’s not clear if it will just be complete streets happening in the future.

The bond issue includes money for rehabbing and relocating streets. There are projects coming up soon that should be using complete streets.

“20 is Plenty” is the national campaign to knock off 5 miles an hour off the residential streets should help a lot with safety.

Ian Webb was at the meeting too. He suggested we need a greenways coordinator backed by a board. Maurice said ABS does that. But he meant a salaried bike-ped coordinator who’s paid by government with input from governments and citizens groups.


Brian asked about Kim Mitchell and it was noted that Choe Haygood was just hired to handle the programming for the Choice Neighborhoods.


Coates Bluff Nature Trail: Caddo Magnet fine arts students

The used-tire amphitheater recently constructed by Jon Soul and cohorts on Coates Bluff Nature Trail was in use on Mar 7 by Fine Arts Survey students from Caddo Magnet HS, said teacher Robert Trudeau.

"These students sampled (via dvd) some of the environmental art of British artist Andy Goldsworthy, saw the work of American artist Patrick Dougherty, checked out "Cadillac Ranch" and "Spiral jetty" and work by Louisianian Clyde Connell before venturing on the trail. They collected cane, sticks and leaves for art projects next class."

Monday, March 5, 2012

Moving the I-49 connector through Allendale: is there a community forum Tues, Mar 6, at 5 pm at Superior Steakhouse?

Lee Jeter, Fuller Center, called this afternoon with the news that Rep. Roy Burrell would be holding a forum this week on connecting I-49 via a non-loop, through-Allendale route. That forum, according to an email blast seen by Jeter, would be held at Superior Steakhouse on Tues.

"The people at Superior told me there was a meeting scheduled for 5 pm on Tues," said Jeter.

A call to Burrell's office at 4:30 pm did not result in an answer.

This is my bus stop and my path to my bus stop--UNDIGNIFIED to maintain in this below-par way!

Dear Mr. Negrete and Mr. White,

I am sending these photos in response to the grass cutting work done
on Pierremont between Dogwood and Youree Drive on Friday, March 2,
2012. On Friday as the crew was still on this site, I called Streets
& Drainage and asked them to call me back leaving my name and number,
to notify them that the lack of weed-eating and grass covering the bus
bench and not mowing the grass growing over the sidewalk is
unacceptable. She said that the complaint would be communicated to
the supervisor in the field. The site still stands undignified today.
I called again just now and spoke with someone who told me it would
be 4 to 6 weeks before this would be addressed. When I asked her for
her email in order to explain in photos the unacceptable work, she did
not know the difference in an email address and a website address--she
kept telling me She had to ask someone else in
order to give me your email addresses.

Is this how you leave a bus bench after mowing?  No, it does not blow off.  These photos were take 3 days after the mowing occurred.  And you leave the trash there in a bag???

Also, the curb is missing and needs repairing with concrete, not
asphalt (see photo).

There are plenty of people today that would value their jobs more than
what is valued in this circumstance, from the supervisor in the field,
to the clerks in the office. Please do respond to this email and let
me know when you plan to resolve the undignified work that has been
done incorrectly.

Stephanie Pedro

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Bike-Ped Master Plan Meeting and Land Trust Possibilities Discussed at Last Meeting

Last week's ABS meeting preceded two meetings later in the week, one with government officials and the other with a land trust board member down-state. Come to our meeting Monday night to hear what happened!

In attendance: Kathryn Brandl, John Gilliland, Carolyn Manning, Susan Keith, Feico Kempff, William Hartman, Maurice Loridans, Steph Pedro, Loren Demerath, Elizabeth Roselli

The group discussed the request from Parish Commissioner Matthew Linn for a map our group has made of recommended bike routes for the upcoming meeting he has invited us to on the bike-ped plan. It was noted we gave the map we made to NLCOG and that we haven’t heard since then about it. It was also noted that google maps is good now for bicycle routes.

It was hoped this meeting might be a catalyst for future work on making the city more bike-able. We’ll be meeting Dara Sanders, the person who’ll be in charge of implementing parts of the master plan. Caroline Majors Eckles knows Dana and she may be open to new ideas. (Later, Loren talked to Caroline, and invited her to attend the meeting as well, as an ABS member.)
Others are looking forward to it. Maurice, for example would like to offer opinions of bicycle infrastructure.

It was noted that we might begin at the meeting by saying there should be a master bike-ped plan, versus some ad hoc thing thrown together by a little group like ABS. Maurice could raise the issue of what is a master plan, and others can point out that it’s about more than cyclists but also about safety, quality of life, and economic development. The concern is that the city looks as it does because it has traditionally skipped planning and it will probably continue to skip it.

Apparently Jeff Everson said he though the city is not built conducively to add bike lanes, but the same argument has been used in other cities that now have them, and even was used against rail systems in Dallas and Houston where such systems are now operating successfully.

Steph thought it might take 5 more years of education, but that it will eventually happen.

We won’t go with a map partly because we don’t want to be hasty in setting routes and paths, we want it done right with real urban planning. If it’s not, eventually, we’ll do it ourselves.

Nature Conservancy Head, Glenn Prickett, asked why we don’t sponsor a bond and get people to fund the improvement through taxes. (Bonds come from the current millage out of the reserve.) Perhaps we should suggest to Matthew and Dana that we get a bond for the plan and its implementation. We would need to reach out to other parts of the community, though, to get the bond, but it’s do-able.

There is also potential for federal government funding: safe routes and transportation enhancement; CDC sponsors a program focused on health. 10 million dollar grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield for unique ideas for action.

Maurice described the grant from the Parish ABS had recieved. Steph applied for it and Matthew Linn arranged for us to receive it (half of what was requested, but more could be coming if we use it well and appropriately). The money is from the Parrish and to be used to secure property along the nature trail through a conservation easement. The funds have to be used to secure property. We’d responsible for covering ineligible expenses. It’s an amount we have to account for semi-annually.

We need to figure out who’s going to own the property. An easement can be in favor of the public. The public owns the easement, not the land. But someone ought to take responsibility to make sure development doesn’t occur. There’s already a sewer line that the city can maintain. A conservation easement has a definite meaning. What matters is who is going to be the party. If we can flex the concept of conservation easement enough to include an urban greenway.

Could be Southeast Louisiana Land Trust, or it could be Centenary. The easement is the basis for stopping development. SPAR or the Parish could administer the easement; the repository of the rights. Owners might like to donate easement rights of their lands and then they wouldn’t have to pay taxes on it.

There is no land trust here in this area, but there is the Southeastern Louisiana Land Trust in Hammond. Bonnie Lewis is a Sociologist at Southeastern Louisiana University who has served on that board.

Come to the meeting Monday night to find about what Loren, Steph, and Feico learned in their conference call with Bonnie later in the week! Dr. Lewis helped us understand the details of operating a land trust and how it has worked for them.

Also, hear about the meeting Kathryn, Maurice, John, William and Caroline had with Matthew Linn and Dara Sanders!

Lastly, all are invited to give feedback on the newsletter draft written by ABS intern Elizabeth Rosselli.