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Recent bicyclist deaths highlight ‘desperate need’ for more bike paths in Baton Rouge

Federal highway officials designated Baton Rouge a "focus city" for bicycling problems back in 2015, and the recent deaths of two bicyclists in separate crashes…

Thursday, Nov 25

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Federal highway officials designated Baton Rouge a "focus city" for bicycling problems back in 2015, and the recent deaths of two bicyclists in separate crashes on Siegen Lane and Stanford Avenue show the problems continue.

On Nov. 6, a Jeep knocked a 57-year-old cyclist off his bike on Siegen Lane. The man was subsequently hit by two more vehicles. Two weeks later, an LSU professor was biking on Stanford Avenue near campus when he was struck by a car. He died later in the hospital, according to the Baton Rouge Police Department.

The Federal Highway Administration branded Baton Rouge six years ago because of a high number of collisions and fatalities, said Reed Richard, BREC’s assistant superintendent of planning and natural resources.

Whitney Hoffman Sayal, BREC’s director of trails, says large parts of Baton Rouge aren’t laid out in a manner that would benefit bicyclists. Connector routes link neighborhoods, rather than streets in a grid, so bicyclists must often venture onto busy roads and streets to cross many areas of the city.

“We are certainly trying to make that better, but it’s not just infrastructure. It’s also education and awareness,” she said. “I think that, collectively, people in Baton Rouge recognize it as a problem.”

Lynley Farris, president of Bike Baton Rouge, said the “car-centered culture” in the city presents obstacles to implementing new, pedestrian and bike-friendly policies.

“As a city, we just haven’t embraced biking as a viable and necessary form of transportation,” Farris said. “But we’re headed in the right direction.”Farris said she […]

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