Caddo Parish bike and pedestrian trail map; new route on N. Lakeshore Dr., a photo by trudeau on Flickr.
Article by the Times' Michelle Marcotte on 12.1.12.
North Lakeshore Drive is a popular spot for area cyclists, District 2 Caddo Commissioner Lyndon B. Johnson said.
Typically on Saturday mornings, he said, there are 20 to 30 bicycles riding along it.
Now, thanks to an ongoing Caddo project with a completed two-mile initial segment, those cyclists have a designated space to ride on the road.
And by this time next year, they could be enjoying the entire 17-mile path between Shreveport and Louisiana Highway 169, said Ken Ward, project manager for Caddo public works and engineering.
The development of a safe and attractive pedestrian and bicycling network integrated with vehicle transportation is one of the goals identified in the Shreveport-Caddo Master Plan.
Ward said each year the parish completely rehabilitates one of its worst roads. And when North Lakeshore Drive came up, he noticed the parish owns the right of way along the stretch and it could accommodate a bike path/shoulder.
The added space along the road not only would provide a safe place for cyclists to ride, but a shoulder for vehicles to pull over in emergencies.
In addition, once the path is completed, it would connect Richard Fleming Park, a 15-acre park on West Lakeshore Drive, and the 160-acre Walter B. Jacobs Memorial Nature Park.
"This is a monumental baby step," District 4 Caddo Commissioner Matthew Linn said.
The parish is able to build the bike path for far less than what the traditional cost is for this type of lifestyle improvement because Caddo already owns the easement, he said.
Ward said he would like to see more bike paths develop in other areas of the parish, particularly the south, where people tend to ride.
"There is a real need for this," said Ian Webb, owner of Red River Cycling.
In addition to leisure riders, he said, there is a big population of people who ride a bike to school, work or visit the store who could benefit from the designated bicycle path.
"This is something everyone can use whether it's for transportation or recreation."
There are no plans for new bicycle paths in Shreveport next year, city Public Assembly and Recreation director Shelly Ragle said. However, A Better Shreveport continues to work on a plan to create a network of bike paths and nature trails using drainage ditches, levees and strips of unused land in the city.
The group applied for a grant with the National Park Service, which connected it to a landscape architecture professor at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
As a result, Bruce Sharky brought a few of his students to Shreveport last month to look at bike path and nature trail opportunities in the city. Demerath and Webb plan to visit Sharky's class Monday, when students will present their proposals.
"These proposals out of Baton Rouge are designed for Shreveport, and we're hoping to integrate them into a plan," Demerath said.
Bicycle and multiuse paths atop levees are becoming popular in south Louisiana.
Duane Foret, St. Charles director of Parks and Recreation, said his parish is building multiuse paths on top of its east bank levee along the Mississippi River. The east bank path — in its final phase — runs through the parish to connect to neighboring St. John and Jefferson parishes.
"On Saturdays, we probably have 20 to 25 vehicles at the (East Bank Bridge) Park who drove there just to bicycle on top of the levee path," he said.
St. Charles is funding the path with grants obtained through the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development and matching funds from the parish, he said. It also has plans for a bicycle path on the west bank levee.
Foret was unsure if an economic or connectivity vision was the force behind initiating the multiphase project, as it started before his time. But he said it seems to have grown even with a potential plan being discussed to build a levee path between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
"It seems to have grown from that first initiative."
In the Comments section:
James E Burian · Avionics Inspector at Metro Aviation
I like the idea of having the bicycle and pedestrian lane on N Lakeshore but it looks like it will increase the likely hood of accidents between vehicle and bike or pedestrian.
The lane looks like a narrow shoulder. I drive N Lakeshore almost every day. The speed limit there is 45 mph. Most vehicles drive faster than that. Some approaching 60 mph.
I would not feel safe walking or cycling right next to vehicles moving that fast. In my opinion it would be safer to have some sort of barrier between the bicycle lane and the road or have a grass median that separates the road form the lane.