Bike lane battle begins

An online petition seeks to counter a petition submitted to the mayor urging him to remove the bike lanes on West Bayou Parkway.

Bike lanes cover roughly one mile of West Bayou Parkway (in red) as part of the Mickey Shunick Memorial Bike Loop.

A new advocacy group calling itself Forward Lafayette is rallying community support to oppose a push by the Greenbriar Escalade Brigade to remove the bike lanes along West Bayou Parkway. Striping for the bike lanes was added last summer and almost immediately drew the ire of selfish, short-sighted motorists who drive the thoroughfare that runs through an affluent section of Midtown Lafayette from Roselawn Boulevard to South College. Evidently a huge carbon footprint isn't enough — they want the roads to themselves, too.

A petition with what we’re told was 500 signatures seeking removal of the bike lanes was submitted to Mayor-President Joel Robideaux recently and, we’re also told, Robideaux is actually considering meeting the request in spite of the prohibitive expense of re-striping West Bayou and effectively killing the Mickey Shunick Memorial Bike Loop, for which signs were recently put up. The loop, created a year ago in honor of the late UL student-cycling enthusiast, ties together existing bike lanes and routes around Midtown surrounding UL, the Horse Farm and Girard Park. West Bayou is a critical link in the loop and the only practical option on the loop’s southern edge.

“Thriving cities across America are adding bike lanes, not removing them. Conceding to these demands would be a serious mistake, the very opposite of progress,” Forward Lafayette writes in urging supporters to send a petition opposing the removal of bike lanes.

The petition, which can be electronically “signed” by clicking here, reads:

To: Mayor-President Joel Robideaux

We, the undersigned, are a group of citizens uniting to protect the existing bike lanes on West Bayou Parkway. Those bike lanes are a vital part of the Mickey Shunick Memorial Bike Loop. The loop itself is part of a growing network of bike and pedestrian friendly infrastructure across our community. These “complete streets” are assets that enhance the health, mobility, connectivity, and quality of life for current and prospective residents of Lafayette.

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. The West Bayou Parkway bike lanes are themselves an amenity enjoyed by families and individuals of all age groups. Since their installation, traffic is moving at a more neighborhood-friendly speed, making West Bayou safer for drivers and pedestrians alike.

We are proud to belong to a community that rallied behind the implementation of complete streets during the creation of PlanLafayette in 2014, and we know that safe, bikeable streets like West Bayou Parkway help Lafayette stay economically competitive with cities across the country, each of which is pursuing quality of life improvements.

Through PlanLafayette, our community has already vetted and approved of this approach. Erasing the bike lanes would be erasing the progress Lafayette has made. Less than a year ago, we decided to move forward and invest our tax dollars on West Bayou Parkway and other complete streets projects. To restripe would be to regress.

West Bayou (in red) is a critical link within the Mickey Shunick Memorial Bike Loop.