Caddo Parish rides ahead with bike path plans

Officials say it's a mile-by-mile process

Shreveport, La. - Caddo Parish wants to build bike paths connecting throughout the city and parish as part of the Great Expectations Master Plan for roadway improvements. 

The Caddo Parish Commission created the plan back in 2010 and officials say it's a step-by-step process which costs about four-thousand dollars a mile.

Local cyclists say riding through the parish can have its challenges. Roadways do not have proper signage and it's illegal for adults to ride on sidewalks. However, getting people outside to ride is the goal of the Caddo Parish Bicycle Plan.

"Most progressive communities across the United States are connecting their communities to parks through the use of pathways like this," said Dr. Woodrow Wilson, Caddo Parish Administrator and CEO.

Dr. Wilson said it's for a healthier community where families can ride together from one neighborhood park to another and around the parish.

"What will happen in the grand scheme is the rural bike path will be connected to the inner city bike path. So you can get on a bike path downtown that's a feeder that will take you out to the rural area and bring you back where you started," Dr. Wilson said.

The local group "Bike Shreveport" advocates for the rights of cyclists. Organizers say these new bike paths are making roadways more user-friendly for two groups of people.

"People who may think it's unsafe to ride bikes or are feel intimidated by the act of riding," said Garrett Johnson, Bike Shreveport organizer.

It's also for people who may not have a car and cycling is their main form of transportation. Johnson said the right symbols and signage is important for safety.

"Bike paths are little more formal and I think they're more encouraging for new cyclist. They feel protected and have their own lane," Johnson said.

Dr. Wilson said the plan is to spend several years updating and expanding roadway infrastructure while putting in bike path signage. State grants and matching funds of about 500-thousand dollars will pay for construction. Certain areas will be identified and tackled first.

"The end point may take some years to do. But we are still working on it. We have a plan and in the process of implementing what we can and will continue to do so," Dr. Wilson said.

Johnson said it's a big step from where the community was just a few years ago.

"I think progress is being made in having a bike plan actually coming to fruition is part of that seeing efforts rewarded," Johnson said.

Both the city and the parish are working with the community and local bike groups to designate the best areas for bike paths. There's been some debate between the groups on the best roads, there's an agreement the overall plan is a good investment for the area.


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