LAFAYETTE, La. (The Daily Advertiser) –
A petition was launched Monday to protect bike lanes along West Bayou Parkway from an opposing movement to have the lanes removed.
As of that afternoon, the petition, titled Forward Lafayette, had received more than 700 signatures and support from organizations such as BikeLafayette.
Lafayette resident Mark DeClouet, one the petition’s organizers, said it was created to counter a petition sent to Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robideaux requesting the removal of bike lanes.
The bike lanes are part of the year-old Mickey Shunick Memorial Bike Loop.
DeClouet said he and fellow runner and bicyclist Chris Odinet asked to meet with Robideaux after learning about the controversy around lane reductions on Moss Street.
“You could kind of see that opposition spilling into West Bayou, which is an area that we use quite a bit,” DeClouet said.
Robideaux’s office provided The Daily Advertiser a copy of the initial request, which was hand-delivered to his office with a few hundred signatures in early May.
The petition, authored and signed by George Latiolais and Randy Moity, claims re-striping West Bayou Parkway for bike lanes worsened traffic congestion and poses potential safety hazards.
“We fully support accommodating bicycle traffic in new street and road designs, and in older areas where retrofitting existing roads do not lead to the negative outcomes for the community,” the petition said.
“Making Lafayette a more pedestrian and cycling friendly community will improve the quality of life in our community for everyone, but not all existing streets can successfully be retrofitted by removing traffic lanes and merely re-stripping the streets with designated bicycles lanes.”
The petition goes on to say West Bayou Parkway handles about 15,000 to 20,000 cars per day and, “Although there are no statistics, probably at most, fewer than 100 bicyclists use West Bayou Parkway each day.”
The Forward Lafayette petition states that the lanes are vital to the memorial loop and part of an expanding bike and pedestrian-friendly network that is part of PlanLafayette.
Since its launch on Monday, the online petition has been circulating through social media.
It can be found at forwardlafayette.com.
“These ‘complete streets’ are assets that enhance the health, mobility, connectivity, and quality of life for current and prospective residents of Lafayette,” the Forward Lafayette petition said.
“Every segment of the interconnected trail of bike lanes offers a recreational outlet for cyclists and runners, an alternative transportation option for students, and a navigable route through the city’s core for bike commuters.”
DeClouet said he decided to move back home after living five years living in Tucson, Arizona, because of the progressive strides being made in Hub City.
Removing the lanes along West Bayou Parkway would be a step back, he said.
“One of the reasons why we wanted to move back was we were happy see is that Lafayette is becoming more connected and that was something we kind of identified with in Tucson,” he said.
“We found out pretty quickly that there is significant support for this. An avenue like West Bayou Parkway provides connections throughout the city and should be available to anybody regardless of mode of transportation.”
A community bike ride around the Shunick Memorial Loop is planned for July 7.