Saturday, September 21, 2013

Bike-Centric and Self-Examining at Last Meeting

In attendance: Cathy Smith, Bill McKechnie, Loren Demerath, Katherine Brandl, Maurice Loridans, Cynthia Keith, Chris Chandler, Susan Keith, Lani Duke

The group welcomed first-timers Bill McKechnie, friend of Carolyn, and Cathy Smith, long-time blog reader.  Bill was field engineer for Bridgestone, lived in Austin where he biked a lot, and also in Naperville, Illinois, and Winter Park, Florida.  Cathy is a pastor in town and recently visited Bentonville, Arkansas, where they've done lots with bike-ped infrastructure.      Cathy said Bentonville looks like a small town with big ideas.  Maurice said Walmart's headquarters are there, and Loren noted that Walmart probably realizes that encouraging progressive bike-ped infrastructure is a cost-effective way of luring executives to work for Walmart in a place with a high quality of life.  Cathy noted Bentonville has lots of police on bikes, various kinds of bike-ped paths going all over town, and pedestrians have the right of way.  It seems like the whole town is outside.  Their slogan is “come out and play Bentonville,” and people really do.  In some places they just widened the sidewalk and made separate lanes for bikers and pedestrians, effectively taking cyclists off the streets--preferable for some, especially given the street.  We could do that on Line Ave., running it all the way from Downtown to the Inner Loop!  There were also little touches of how the sidewalk corners were slowly rounded to accommodate cyclists.  
    Maurice reported on local good news on that front: Bossier’s city council has just approved funds to connect their riverside bike path to the Board Walk.  It was noted that the more people get out and bike, and the more Shreveport will be seen as bikeable, and increasingly made to accommodate biking.  Bill said we need what Amsterdam has: a sea of bikes

A range of other cycling issues where discussed, such as the pro's and con's of helmets, bike-share programs, the Yellow Bike Project in Austin, and one-upping each other on how cheap we've been able to get functional bikes (Bill staked the first claim at $10, Loren upped it with a $1 garage sale buy, but Maurice's flavor won in getting a bike for a pot of gumbo!)

Also noted was how motorists can harass cyclists for biking on the road even when riding on the sidewalk is technically illegal.  Maurice said we can get a ticket for biking there, and motorists can get a ticket for harassing us.  That said, several of us freely admit to doing biking on the sidewalk when bike safety on a given road is precarious. 

Loren reviewed the efforts of a recent charette conducted by Kim Mitchell and others on the route of I-49 going through the city, and enough varied opinions were apparent that a focused meeting might be useful.  It was suggested we invite those with expertise such Dara Sanders, Murray Lloyd, Kim Mitchell, and others.  Perhaps a moderated panel might be needed to structure the debate where there's a lot of money at stake.  
    Maurice noted that the people that DON’T want it to go through Allendale haven’t approved of any of the three routes that have been suggested.

Chris Chandler's thinking about how to get more productive followup from Aspen Idea Festival hosted locally by the Community Foundation led us to work on a model for the discussions might work better by incorporating the technology of "clickers" or even cell phones where folks respond to questions by texting. 
    Chris said that CF Director Paula Hickman is on board with tweaking the format in effort to improve productive followup.  
    Bill noted that in his experience as an engineer, it helps to a measure, deadlines on a calender, and repeatability.  One could have five bullet points, and noted how many did we hit, etc.
    Chris suggested that we use ABS meetings as a way of developing a format that would focus discussions and create more productive outcomes, and we can then propose using that format for the Community Foundation's hosting of the Aspen Idea Festival.  Chris and Loren agreed to meet and work on that, and try it out at next Monday's meeting.  {Gulp!}


Lani Duke talked about the Food Hub meetings she's been attending.  ABetterShreveport had talked about how the Barnwell might complement what the Foodhub does.  Reportedly, Robert Specian has gone to Liz Swain about possibilities.  Susan Keith was a member of "Friends of the Barnwell," but the group's connection was dissolved unilaterally by the city eight months ago.  The city of Shreveport told them they were no longer affiliated with it.  They may become involved with the museum of at the State Fair Grounds, but as of now, the group is in a state of unaffiliated limbo.

Some time ago ABS received permission to paint bike sharrows on streets.  We've held back from doing more than we did on a small scale for the tree tour because of our hopes that a bike-ped plan would be soon created, which it wasn't; more recently, we thought it might be worth waiting for the Unified Development Code's completion, but we now the code wouldn't help much for that kind of thing.
    So, we may be putting off a great opportunity to add significant value to our city right now.  Later in the week, at the monthly meeting of the coalition of community agency partners for the Healthy Green and Into the Outdoors program headed by the Community Foundation, Loren met Dr. Mary Hawkins, on the faculty of the Department of Kinesiology and Health Science at LSUS.  She mentioned that she has a bunch of students that need service-learning credit.  Hmm...

Monday, 6:00-7:00 p.m., Wright Math Building, as usual. 
    Picking up on topics from previous weeks, but while taking the first steps towards Chandler's productive meeting template!  Join us!

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