Staying Busy!

Hi everyone, sorry for the delay in posting! I'm extremely excited to be the first Executive Director of BikeLafayette, and I have hit the ground running. This is such a fertile time for bicycles in our area, and I am attending every DOTD and planning meeting to mention bicycling, have had several meetings with developers, coteries, and city planners about bicycle and pedestrian projects we can accomplish Right Now, and am working with a statewide bicycling coalition. I will keep you informed as these things come up! I am putting together a presentation to further our fundraising and community outreach. Here's an overview of the progress made. Within the first week of my new position I attended a "Walkablility Workshop", sponsored by our local government, from Dan Burden of The Walkable and Livable Communities Institute. This is part of a big push by the Lafayette Consolidated Government to make Acadiana a friendlier, safer, and easily traveled community. What a great sign that our government is actively seeking a cycling and pedestrian friendly environment! Lafayette has been moving in leaps and bounds in bicycle accessibility. St. Landry has added bicycle lanes, Bertrand will be re-striped to add pedestrian and bicycle ways any day now, and there is a "UL Bike Way" that is funded and has been started. To help move these and other projects along I have been asked to form a group of volunteers to audit specific places. This will be for all "vulnerable road users", including bicycles, pedestrians, and the disabled, and will also take transit into consideration. We are starting with parks and downtown. Volunteers will be provided with training, checklists, and maps, and my goal is small bi-monthly groups to tackle these different places. I have started a Facebook group as this was the quickest and easiest thing to get off the ground, but if you do not use Facebook and want to help. please contact me (monique@bikelafayette.org) and I will keep you updated. The Facebook group to join is here: Acadiana Vulnerable Road User Volunteers. I will also use this group to advertise government and planning meetings to show up to.

Not long after, Vice President Jon Langlinais and I attended a State Bicycle Summit in Baton Rouge along with representatives from four other cities in Louisiana advocacy organizations. Under the guidance of a professional Strategic Planning consultant from Virginia, we had great success in identifying goals for a statewide entity to gain a cohesive voice to represent bicycling in our state. We are still in  the early stages, but Baton Rouge lawyer Beaux Jones is heading the legislative subcommittee side while I am heading the entity side. We are now a Louisiana Coalition with a deadline to become a non-profit organization next year. Our goals are: 1) statewide sharing of resources 2) statewide advocacy 3) form a non-profit organization in 2015, and 4) cohesive messaging statewide. We have unanimously decided that even though bicycle advocacy has the biggest voice, we need to represent all "vulnerable road users" which includes pedestrians and disabled. We are still BikeLafayette! My main focus will be bicycles, but what's good for one of these groups is good for all, and I am happy to represent our community as a whole.

Whew, long post! I'll do better but wanted to keep you updated. I need to end with this; with so much activity WE NEED FUNDING to continue making Acadiana a bicycle-friendly community. It is statistically proven that bicycle advocacy organizations have historically had the biggest impact on changing communities infrastructure on becoming more pedestrian and bicycle friendly. I'm so proud and honored to be a part of that, and we can continue to do so with your help. Please check out our revamped "About" page on the website, and go to "Member Benefits" to see how you and your business can benefit from promoting cycling in our area.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Monique Koll, DVM

Photo Credit: Brad Bowie of the Advocacte

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