EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LADOTD) is teaming up with the East Baton Rouge Parish Recreation and Park Commission (BREC) to host a series of public meetings for the community to learn about and comment on the Pedestrian & Bicycle Master Plan.
The Master Plan focuses on creating safe bike paths and pedestrian trails that will meet community needs in areas such as safety concerns, financial burdens, and health problems.
The plan was shared at the first public meeting Monday, May 7, at Greenwood Community Park in Baker.
Attendants were able to mark maps of their ideal paths and participate in multiple interactive web polls during the meeting. They collectively answered instant questions such as "How would you describe bicycling or walking in East Baton Rouge today?" The answers popped up instantly on screen in a word cloud. The word that dominated the center of the cloud with the largest font was "dangerous."
DOTD resources back up the community concern, citing rankings that put Louisiana in 7th place for highest number pedestrian fatalities. When you break the data down by parishes, EBR comes in with the 2nd highest number of pedestrian fatalities in Louisiana.
PEDESTRIAN FATALITIES (source: DOTD)
- 7th highest - Louisiana (in the U.S.)
- 2nd highest - East Baton Rouge Parish (in Louisiana)
EBR CRASHES (2011 - 2015)
- 481 - bicycle
- 822 - pedestrian
When asked what challenges bicyclists in EBR face, responses included dangerous drivers, high speed and high volume traffic, no infrastructure and paths to nowhere. People in attendance were also asked, "Where do you want to go by bicycle or walking?"
WHERE DO YOU WANT TO GO BY BICYCLE OR WALKING?
(Greenwood Community Park public meeting answers)
- 24% - Recreation or parks
- 22% - Your job
- 20% - Central business district
- 19% - Neighborhood amenities, like grocery stores, restaurants
- 9% - Schools
- 6% - Health care facilities
An American Community Survey from 2015 shows that 7 percent of households in East Baton Rouge Parish do not have a vehicle. A study documenting the economic benefits of biking in Baton Rouge found that replacing a 2-mile car commute with a bike trip results in an economic benefit of $42.40 per week per person, or $2,120 per year.
ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF BIKING
- Replace 2-mile car commute with bike
- Equals savings of $42.20 per week per person (or $2,120 per year)
In 2016, Louisiana ranked 5th for the number of deaths due to heart disease and stroke, that's according to the 2017 Louisiana Health Report Card from the Louisiana Department of Health. That same report shows Louisiana in 5th place for percentage of obese adults, and 9th in the percentage of adults with diabetes.
LA HEALTH RANKINGS
- 5th - for number of heart disease & stroke deaths
- 5th - in percentage of obese adults
- 9th - percentage of adults with diabetes
The next public meeting is planned for Tuesday at BREC's Perkins Road Community Park.
EBR PEDESTRIAN & BICYCLE MASTER PLAN
- Tuesday, May 8
- 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- BREC’s Perkin’s Road Community Park
- 7122 Perkins Road
- Baton Rouge, LA
The community is invited to share ideas on safe biking paths and pedestrian trails. BREC says the input from the public is crucial to the successful development and implementation of the plan.
The meeting will begin with a brief presentation on project background, followed by an interactive online polling exercise. You're asked to bring your smart phone to participate. Those in attendance will have the opportunities to view display boards, engage in map exercise, ask questions and leave comments.
The final Plan is expected to be completed and delivered by May 2019.