Friday, September 12, 2014

Bike lanes on Marshall St and Texas Ave; the Stephen Pederson proposal for expanding Shreveport's bikeability

Stephen Pederson is a recent La Tech grad around whom a growing crew of mostly young bicyclers has coalesced. His once-a-month Critical Manners rides have drawn 50 pedalers lately. Here's a provocative plan - an outgrowth of his SBC Bike Social effort - for Texas Ave and Marshall St from a fellow who is working with numerous entities across the city to expand the world of Shreveport bicycling.

We all want what is best for our city. We all have different interests and ideas that we can foresee as being a step in a positive, progressive direction. For me, the single biggest factor for my happiness when moving here, was the ability to bike to work. I am an experienced cyclist, so my idea of “bikeable” may not be the same as other folks. The absence of a dedicated bike lane will not stop me from riding. But it is important to remember that I am not the norm! In fact, I may be something like .001% of the population. The presence of a dedicated bike lane on the two main avenues into downtown Shreveport would increase ridership to a level that this city does not think is possible. I know that people will use facilities that make them feel safe and recognized. The two avenues I speak of are Texas Ave. and Marshall St. These streets are both very wide, and accommodate car parking on each side. Problem is, the lanes aren’t wide enough to allow two cars to pass a parked car at the same time.

My argument here is that these two routes are never used enough by car traffic to warrant two full lanes. But take out one of the lanes, which is rendered useless by the parking lane, and replace it with a dedicated bicycle avenue. Look at that, doesn’t that bike lane just look beautiful? I bet all my dollars, that if a recent graduate were looking into Shreveport, this would exponentially increase the odds of adding an educated citizen to our city. Not to mention, provide a safe way for existing Shreveporters to get to and from downtown. Here’s to this being the next big step (or pedal?) toward a progressive Shreveport.

About What the If, Shreveport: It is easy enough to point fingers and lay blame. In fact, it seems like this may be a favorite pastime of Shreveport. The hard part is raising questions in a way that ultimately provides for a positive end result. We all want our city to make improvements. Some people look at things and wonder why, some people look and wonder, why not? Enter, constructive criticism at its finest: What the If, Shreveport?!

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