Y'all, it's almost here! Tomorrow is Lafayette's first Better Block demonstration on Bertrand Drive!

For more information on Better Block, check out ReCover Acadiana and Better Block events and Better Block Activities in Lafayette.

Ride your bike or walk over from the Horse Farm Farmer's Market on TOMORROW from 10am to 5pm! Bertrand Drive will become a two-lane pedestrian friendly street, with live music by Jamie Bergeron, a pop-up park, fun jumps for kids, bicycle paths, a dog park, outdoor cafe', food trucks, face painting, outdoor yoga and more!

It'll be a fun and unique day, and I hope it will inspire us as a city to take action instead of just talking about ideas!

I'll be sharing photos over on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!

a bike month recap

As Bike Month comes to a close, I sit here wishing I could have ridden more. Between rainy weather, being sick, and being ridiculously busy when not sick, I wasn't able to ride as much or attend as many Bike Lafayette events as I wanted to. (This is me holding myself accountable so next year I will do better!)

Sunday morning ride past The Color Run finish line area

But here we go, Bike Month in numbers!
  • 6: bike rides total (including 1 to attend Better Block this weekend!)
  • 10: average miles on each bike ride
  • 2: states ridden in (yippee!)
  • 2: bike paths taken
  • 5: times I've said I need a tune-up (I should probably do that soon) 
Milo practicing his skills

Stopping by Mickey's ghost bike memorial. <3

Bike trail cruising in Florida

Beach cruising in Florida

How did you participate in Bike Month this year? Did you get to ride to work?

remembering professor griff blakewood

On Monday, Griff Blakewood, the beloved University of Louisiana professor of geosciences, passed away after a year-long battle with cancer.

He was widely regarded for his activism in the field of renewable resources, and had a passionate insight about life and our community. He taught such classes as Environmental Sustainability, Biosphere Systems, the Environment and the Spirit, Love and Friendship, and Sustainable Futures.

He was also the outspoken faculty advisor for the UL chapter of The Society for Peace, Environment, Action, and Knowledge (SPEAK), an organization that was the impetus for the university's recycling program. His influence within the university's then-Department of Renewable Resources gained respect throughout Lafayette. In 2005, Blakewood handled, via SPEAK, all of the recycling for Festival Acadiens et Creoles.

The money he earned from recycling at Festival Acadiens funded the beginning of efforts to save the Horse Farm – an effort that was successful and kept the Horse Farm from being purchased for development. Those efforts will be remembered for generations to come, now that the Horse Farm is developing its own comprehensive plan to remain a family friendly green space for Lafayette.

He was also a bike enthusiast and was an important part of bringing bike culture to the forefront in Lafayette. He hosted bike repair workshops and was involved with environmental campaigns on local, state and national levels.

I did not have the pleasure of knowing Griff personally, but I knew of him from being involved with many community events, including one I attended for the Lafayette Comprehensive Plan a couple years ago at the newly saved Horse Farm.

I had to take a picture of his shirt. He led and believed in his mission to save the Horse Farm, and when the mission succeeded, he wore his pride on his shirt.

It's an inspiration to see the results of and the pride from such a passionate campaign. Don't think your voice is too small to be heard. Fight for what you believe in. Turn your plea into a past-tense triumph!

Better Block activities in Lafayette

Whew. Thanks to prescription meds, a metric ton of Powerade (all colors, of course) and a LOT of taking it easy, and I finally have the energy to think and type again!

I wrote earlier this month about the Better Block events happening around Lafayette. Better Block is a nonprofit organization started a few years ago by Jason Roberts, and their focus is essentially on guerrilla urban planning. Jason began taking underused spaces, mainly outdoors and quickly transforming them into parklets, pop-up art galleries and entire redesigned street blocks that include designated bike lanes, tables and chairs, trees, pop-up businesses, and other useful and enjoyable items for neighborhood residents to enjoy. They made the concept open source and teach others how to develop their own Better Block projects.

Enter Lafayette, May 2014. Jason came to speak last week to members of the 705, and this week to members of the public. He told the story of how Better Block came to be, showed lots of project pictures and shared some of the great results his projects. I loved his energetic presentation and really enjoyed how nature is always tied into his projects and demonstrations, whether it's creating bike lanes or adding trees and flowers to an otherwise ugly street. I also find it inspiring that his projects come together in 30 days, a deadline he is proud to adhere to. Instead of city plans being hung up in the planning phase and in artist renderings for years, he actually creates what those renderings look like in 30 days, to show neighborhood residents exactly what the project could look and function like if the city would complete the plan.

This week, Downtown Lafayette implemented its first Better Block project - a parklet right in the heart of downtown! One parallel parking space was covered with wood and pallets, and tables and chairs (with adorable floral arrangements) were set out. The space was completed with cheerful umbrellas and string lights. I don't know if it's still up or not, but I hope you got to check it out!

Yesterday, we took to Bertrand Dr. in Lafayette to pick up trash in preparation for the full Better Block demonstration, which will happen on Saturday, May 31! We picked up lots of trash along the roadway and in the open grassy areas, including many cans, pieces of styrofoam and cigarette butts. I certainly did not pick up the most trash, but I focused on getting those smaller pieces and all of the cigarette butts I could see. It was actually hard to leave even though there was still more litter. (Of course maybe if I had shown up on time, I could've gotten to more! Shame on me.) One resident on the road came out to thank us for picking up trash, and she expressed her excitement over Better Block happening just beyond her front yard. It always feels good to hear positive feedback from the residents even more directly affected than us!

If you are interested in Lafayette's Better Block Bertrand project, you can like their Facebook page to stay updated! The more people who come out to enjoy it, the bigger a statement we can make!

Ride your bike or walk over from the Horse Farm Farmer's Market on Saturday, May 31st from 10am to 5pm. Bertrand Drive will transform into a two-lane pedestrian friendly street, with live music by Jamie Bergeron, a pop-up park, fun jumps for kids, bicycle paths, a dog park, outdoor cafe', food trucks, face painting, outdoor yoga and more!

It may not seem like a huge transformation, but it very much is. Once you see what Lafayette can be, you might be more inspired to have a hand in changing Lafayette permanently!

bike to work day

Happy Bike to Work Day!

Milo wanted to show off his own speed bike skills for y'all!

We've got thunderstorm threats and wind advisories all day, so biking was not a very good option for today, but maybe I can make my own Bike to Work Day another time!

Were you able to bike to work today? How is it going so far?

ReCover Acadiana and Better Block events

Better Block is a national organization that helps to redevelop portions of cities across the country. Their founder Jason Roberts, who's known for his use of public space and planning strategies, otherwise known as tactical urbanism, aims to improve the quality of life in towns and cities one block at a time. Some projects reenvision downtown streets, some make use of vacant spaces, and some create 'parklets' inside existing parking spaces.

The 705 organization's philanthropic project ReCover Acadiana is working with the Lafayette Consolidated Government to host some events featuring Jason later this month.

Going one step further, Lafayette will be constructing its first Better Block parklet sometime in May at an undisclosed location. The IND reports that an anonymous source stated, “We don’t want to let anyone tell us no before we even get started. See, the point is to break the rules to show how the rules aren’t best serving the people.”

Another event ReCover Acadiana is putting on is happening on Thursday, May 22. To prepare for the Better Block event, members of the 705 (and anyone interested in helping out) will be cleaning up Bertrand Drive in Lafayette, starting around 5:30 p.m. All you need to do is show up and be ready to pick up litter; all supplies will be provided. And you can make your trash pickup a little more social by snapping a photo of the litter and posting it on social networks using #trashtag (a new one!) and the classic #litterati.

Lafayette is a great city...now let's help make it prettier through parklets and litter cleanup!

a guide to bicycle commuting to work

With today's Bike to School ride starting on UL Lafayette's campus at 5:00, and next Wednesday's Bike to Work Day, one might wonder how to commute to work on a bicycle, if you're lucky enough to live within range.

By doing a little planning, you too can be riding merrily along to work! Or more likely, frantically rushing while still partly asleep, and still arriving a few minutes late.

To start, get on Google Maps and look up bicycle directions from your home to your office. These will follow recognized bike paths and roads with designated bike lanes to give you a safer route. Then, calculate the extra amount of time it will take you to get to work, and adjust your morning routine accordingly.

Then plan where you will be able to keep your bike while at work. You may be able to lock it up outside somewhere, but if you're in a larger building with other occupants, you may have to ask building management for permission or a recommendation, or you may even have to find a way to transport your bike up to your office. Figure out where you can leave your bike before you set off from home.

GET A HELMET! I know, helmets are ugly and mess up your hair. But it's better to have flat hair than a crushed skull. And commuting during rush hour is much more dangerous than at a more leisurely time. There are more cars on the road before and after work, and drivers are not necessarily paying attention as they are hurrying to get wherever they are going.

Luckily there are cute helmet options. If you buy a helmet you actually like, you will be more likely to wear it. I own this great, punchy green Nutcase and I love its sleeker look (and the company's cheeky persona) compared to those cheap, vented options. Eleanor's, based in New York, also has the daintiest selection of female helmets, and I may or may not want all of them. But, take your time and do some researching online to find a helmet brand and style that you like the best – there are tons of them out there!

After your helmet, make sure you have a solid lock and key for your bicycle. Most locks have a security grade on the packaging, so look for the toughest one you can find. Most locks won't deter a seasoned bike thief, but it will seriously reduce your chances of having your bike stolen. And don't lock your bike where it could block access to something or where there are signs against leaving items locked somewhere.

If you ride early in the morning or late in the evening, keep a set of bright, working lights on your bike, and always ride with your lights on if it's dark outside. There's nothing I hate more than seeing a cyclist at night with no lights!

Once you decide which day you're going to bike, think about anything you have happening at work that day and take it into your outfit and cargo considerations. If you have a meeting, you'll need to wear or bring your nicer outfits. Or if you bring a work laptop to and from home each day, you'll need to figure out how to transport it.

It's also a good idea to pack a travel-sized deodorant and cologne or perfume in your bag so you can freshen up once you arrive at work. For ladies, packing a travel can of dry shampoo can also be a life saver to so you don't have to rock the windblown look all day. Julie from Green Philly Blog recently shared a list of the 7 essentials your commuter kit should hold over at Be Well Philly.

Bike Pretty, based in San Francisco, has great information on how to wear skirts to work on a bike and how to bike in heels - it CAN be done, they swear! I, however, have never attempted it. (I have had one bad experience with a slightly loose ballet flat in the middle of a busy intersection. I choose not to dwell on the bad decisions I've made.) Melissa from Bike Pretty gave an interview to SmartyGirl Leadership where she gave some great tips for maintaining style while commuting on your bike!

For ladies, skirts can be one of the trickiest parts of riding, and especially for commuting. But, some inventive people created bike-friendly pencil skirts, such as the Iva Jean Reveal Skirt and BetaBrand's Bike to Work skirt. The secret lies within the zippers placed on the skirt - when you unzip them, you are essentially turning the skirt into an A-line one, allowing for the freedom to pedal. When you get to work, zip zip, and you're back to that chic pencil skirt!

Another point for riding in skirts: how to cover up so gusts of wind don't become your most mortifying moment. Green Philly Blog shares some tips on how to wear a dress without creating a disaster, such as tying the excess fabric in a maxi skirt to keep it from getting caught in anything, and wearing looser skirts. But the most important is to remain covered up. Tuck excess skirt fabric under you to keep it from flapping. Leggings or tights are a chic way to cover up in colder weather. For summer weather, I picked up a pair of basic volley shorts from Academy - they cover everything but are tight enough to not create fabric bulges or stick out from under skirts. (Finding an eco-friendly option is always the best, but finding an inexpensive option is still important!)

What about wearing high heels to work? There is a debate among female cyclists over whether biking in high heels is smart or stupid. Bike Pretty is pro-heels, and she makes good points. In the end, it's a personal choice for you to make. If you want to start biking in heels, practice a little near your house before setting off for work. Practice getting comfortable mounting, dismounting, braking, stopping and starting again in your heels. Once you know how to move your feet differently, you'll be good to go! I do not believe I have ever tried biking in heels, instead opting for flats, TOMS, sandals and boots. But I also don't commute to work regularly on my bicycle.

What about for the guys? You can still look stylish while commuting too! Bike Pretty did a post earlier this year on biking in suits. Just as we have the convertible pencil skirts, guys now have the option of a bike-friendly suit and office clothing, like these from Parker Dusseau, made with pit zips, discreet reflective piping and moisture-wicking fabric.

Now you'll need to figure out how you want to carry your belongings. If it's on the warmer side, wearing a backpack will only drench your shirt with sweat. Bikes that can hold front or rear baskets or panniers are the best for commuting, so you have somewhere to stow your belongings and keep yourself free for riding.

Panniers are bike-optimized bags that can be easily removed, and are perfect for bikes with rear racks - some can be draped over so you have storage on both sides of your tire, and others have fasteners to go on the rack itself. Eleanor's has a great selection of panniers for ladies, but you can find different options all over.

Just make sure your bag or basket doesn't exceed any weight limit or cause your bike to be unmanageable. A heavy front-bike basket makes steering and turning much more difficult.

If you are able, you can also carry a few extra work clothing pieces instead of wearing them on the ride (such as a suit jacket or your pair of heels for the day).

Pack your bag efficiently, and don't forget your commuter essentials bag, and you're ready to hit the road!

Have you ever commuted to work by bike? What were your favorite and least favorite parts about it?


may is national bike month!

Earth Month may be over as of yesterday, but today brings in the first day of National Bike Month, so the party can continue!

National Bike Month began in 1956 as a way to showcase the benefits of bicycling. It takes place in May because it's one of the better weather months across the country, creating nice conditions for riding.

Many cities have local events to celebration National Bike Month, so check around with your bike groups or leagues to see if there is anything happening near you!

Of note for New Orleans: Bike Easy is hosting a Bicycle Second Line on Sunday, May 18! The brass band will be playing in a truck bed while everyone follows on their bikes. It's sure to be a truly unique ride.

So what's happening in Lafayette for Bike Month?
  • MAY 2: It's the third to last Downtown Alive of the season, and Bike Lafayette will be running their bike valet again. Ride your bike and park with ease right inside the gates! The valet service is free, and your bikes will remain safe.
  • MAY 6: City-parish Pres Joey Durel will make the proclamation for Lafayette’s 3rd annual Bike Month 5:30 p.m. at the Lafayette Consolidated Government building downtown. Following the proclamation, everyone will ride a victory lap around town with other bicycling enthusiasts.
  • MAY 6: If you can't make it out for the proclamation, you can choose to head toward Youngsville for the Tri a Time trial, where you can work to set a new personal record.
  • MAY 7: Bike to School today, geared toward college students taking finals. Wednesday is Dead Day, so take a break from studying, hop on your bike, and go for a ride starting at Dupre Library at 5 p.m.
  • MAY 11: Bike Lafayette is putting on a ride in memory of Roxanne Richard, who was killed when hit by a car while riding her bike near Grand Coteau. The ride will be 25 miles at comfortable touring pace with a stop for brunch in Arnaudville. The ride kicks off at 7:30 a.m.  from Acadiana Park. And you'll be able to see the future site of a new cycling rest area in memory of Roxanne.
  • MAY 12-16: Bike to Work week! Bike Lafayette is running a cute contest where you can win gift certificates and other prizes just by taking a picture of yourself with your bike at work and posting it to their Facebook page
  • MAY 14: Bike to Work day. I'll be sharing tips next week on how to commute to work on your bicycle, so come on back!
  • MAY 14: The Women on Wheels Ride is for any female riders, no experience necessary. Meet at Artmosphere at 6 p.m.
  • MAY 17-18: For the adventurous spirits, go on a weekend trip on the Longleaf Trace, a 40-mile car-free rail-to-trail pathway in Mississippi. Meet at Target in Upper Lafayette on Saturday at 8 a.m. Eat lunch in Hattiesburg. Pedal to Prentiss Saturday afternoon. Camp or motel overnight after the best buffet in the state. Pedal back to Hattiesburg Sunday morning.
  • MAY 19: Acadiana Bicycle Company is teaching riders basic bicycle maintenance and show you how to fix a flat, fix a chain and change a tire.
  • MAY 21: The worldwide Ride of Silence will begin at 7 p.m. at Mickey Shunick's ghost bike. Join others in Lafayette, and thousands around the world in a silent ride to honor those injured or killed while riding. 
  • MAY 24: Fixie Fest at Hub City Cycles at 9 p.m.
  • MAY 27: At 6 p.m., go for a ride on the new mountain bike trails at Acadiana Park.
  • MAY 30: For those of you with little kiddies, head down to the Southside Library between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.: Kick off your kids’ summer reading and riding with bicycle safety education, free bicycle helmet distribution and a bicycle giveaway sponsored by Capitol Cyclery and Bike Lafayette.
  • MAY 31: The Dust Bowl Jam is happening at the Youth Park from 5 to 7 p.m. Strut your BMX and skateboard stunts and win cash prizes. 
  • MAY 31: Kidical Mass School’s Out for the Summer Ride Family Ride - bring the children out for a family ride that includes snowballs and prizes!
  • MAY 31: Better Block Bertrand: See what bicycle and pedestrian-friendly urban living can look like in this daylong demo. Ride by Bertrand between Johnston and Arceneaux. And enjoy Bike Lafayette’s free bike valet service! 
  • MAY 1 to SEPTEMBER 30: Sign up to participate in the Get Up & Ride National Bike Challenge that encourages people to bike for transportation and recreation. Win awards or prizes for riding your bike.

I'd love to send a big THANK YOU to Bike Lafayette for organizing so many great events for National Bike Month. Now get out there and ride! Take pictures along the way and share them online with the hashtag #BikeMonth, and then it's like you're riding with everyone else in the world!
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