The push for more eco-friendly neighborhoods is often promulgated by bicycle riders. Slashing away at harmful emissions by commuting via bicycle is something everybody can get behind, but putting it into practice can yield harmful, sometimes even deadly consequences.
The roads of Baton Rouge in the LSU area are often riddled with students looking to save money and the planet on bicycles. Commuting to and from campus on a bike should be a viable option for all students, but some aren’t willing to take the risk.
According to a report released last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Louisiana has the third highest ranking of bicycle deaths, beating only Florida and Delaware.
The Louisiana ranking is even more troubling when considering that, according to a report by The Alliance for Bicycling and Walking, only 0.4 percent of Louisiana residents commute to and from work via bicycle. That means that for those brave few willing ride a bicycle on a daily basis in this state, the odds of being in an accident are one of the highest in the nation.
But even on a smaller scale, these bicycle deaths are deeply concerning. Last year, LSU English and linguistics professor Elisabeth Oliver was struck and killed walking her broken down bicycle down La. 952 by a pickup truck. Just last December, 14-year-old Brennan Rube was struck and killed by a truck while riding his bicycle.
“It is sobering when I drive from my office to our afternoon ride start and I pass three ghost bikes,” said Mike Constantin, the President of the Baton Rouge Bike Club via email of what can be done to improve safety.
One possible explanation for the deaths is a lack of knowledge. It would make sense that drivers in Louisiana are particularly ignorant of the laws regarding cyclists using the road; Louisiana recently ranked as the fifth most dangerous state to drive in an analysis by carinsurancecomparison.com, which used data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to calculate the results.
“Education, education, education. PSA’s. This goes for both the driver and the cyclist,” said Constantin.
While education is of paramount importance, one solution that would not require everyone going back to driving school is the implementation of bike lanes.
“More designated bike lanes and bike paths would help tremendously,” said Constantin.
Last year, residents and cyclists of Glenmore and Hundred Oaks avenues exploded with debate over the conversion of on street parking into bicycle lanes. Those debates continue today, and could be a landmark decision for the future of Baton Rouge. How valuable they consider the cyclists of the city to be could dictate how much progress is made for bike lanes in the future.