“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike.” — John F. Kennedy
Stephen Pederson and other members of the group Bike Shreveport share JFK’s sentiment. Established in 2014, Bike Shreveport’s mission is to introduce people ‘to bike riding for transportation and recreation, with an emphasis on safe, casual and efficient riding through the city streets.’
On March 30, bike enthusiasts can learn more about Bike Shreveport and join fellow cyclists at the group’s monthly event, Slow Roll, taking place at 6:30 p.m. in Columbia Park. “Slow Roll is our cornerstone,” said Pederson, one of the organizers and founding members of Bike Shreveport. “This gives folks a chance to meet and greet. The goal is to show people some of the very easily biked parts of the city.”
The meet-up is on the last Friday of each month and includes stops to bike-friendly businesses. The Slow Roll is a family-friendly outing and the group moves at an easy 7-8 mph pace for about 8-10 miles. “I compare it to walking. If you walk your dog around the block, you can bike with us,” Pederson said.
In recent months, the City of Shreveport has made moves to make roads safer for bicyclists. With the addition of bike lane stripes and shallows and signage alerting motorists in the Highland neighborhood, Shreveport is taking necessary steps to improve and create infrastructure for bicyclists, but Pederson said Shreveport is at the starting point.
“Other cities that you would consider to be bike-friendly have started this process decades ago,” he said. “I would like to see us take a deeper look at what has been successful in other places, then take to the drawing board while we have momentum versus the worst case scenario where we build infrastructure and both car drivers and bike riders are left with unhappy results and it’s that much harder to get started again.”
Shreveport’s 2030 Great Expectations Master Plan includes the addition of bike lanes and shallows, mainly on streets through the Highland neighborhood and downtown Shreveport. On the other side of the Red River, Bossier City created a protected bike lane with the new developments in the East Bank District, which opened in November.
“It’s good infrastructure, but it needs to be connected to other parts of town,” Pederson said. “This is Bossier’s biggest problem, connectivity. I think they can fill a lot of the holes and build a successful network with a little planning. Compared to Shreveport, Bossier’s infrastructure is even more car-centric, where Shreveport has a larger grid of neighborhood streets that can be navigated.”
While many are aware of the physical health benefits of bike riding, there also are some less-than obvious perks to taking up the activity or even swapping the car keys for a bike helmet. Pederson said he is far less frustrated on his daily commute than if he takes a car. And he has even discovered a few treasures while biking through Shreveport’s streets.
“This may be silly, but because of my slower speed and easy ability to stop and get off my bike, I’m always spotting random things that have fallen off vehicles. I’ve found a multi-tool, a hammer and other nifty things,” he said. “I also stop at a pear tree or two and grab a snack.”
If you plan on attending the next Slow Roll event, be sure to bring lights for safety, hi-visibility vests and a helmet. For more information on Bike Shreveport, visit BikeShreveport.com.