Ride On, Velos!
“Louisiana’s best party on two wheels” returns this weekend for its third annual citywide celebration
By Alison BarkerPosted Mar 28, 2012
It’s true that here in the land of festivals, one celebration sometimes blends into another. Though most of us will never tire of celebrations that consist of sitting in a lawn chair and waving our arms for shiny beads, it would be nice to celebrate something more, well, active. Get a good grip on your handlebars, because a truly standout festival approaches us this weekend, and it’s all about the thrill of adventure and the joy that is to be had on two wheels.
The Velo Louisiane 2012, presented by the Baton Rouge Advocates for Safe Streets (B.R.A.S.S.), is back for its third annual citywide celebration. And, with a kaleidoscopic array of family-friendly activities, races, demonstrations, local art auction and after-hours socializing, Velo LA promises to offer something for everyone: from cyclo-cross, BMX, and mountain bike enthusiasts, to casual bikers and non-cyclists who want to meet new people, watch cool races, and mingle around unique, locally made art.
It all starts this Saturday, March 31 at 8 a.m., at City-Brooks Park Tennis Courts on Dalrymple. After TREK mountain bike demonstrations at Comite River/Kerry Stamey Bike Trails (check website for details) at 9 a.m., Mayor Kip Holden will preside over a dedication of the new Farr Park Bicycle Trail Head Facility and lead the Mayor’s Family Fun Bike Ride. From Farr Park, organizers will lead a bike ride to the Farmers Market in downtown Baton Rouge.
“One of the benefits of this festival will definitely be the opportunity to learn more about bike routes to use for popular destinations,” said Mark Martin, founder of B.R.A.S.S., the 501 (c) 3 non-profit that is the hosting organization. Since 2006, B.R.A.S.S. has promoted bicycling and walking transportation options in the city through public education and advocacy efforts.
Rosanne Scholl, one of Velo LA’s organizers, said that this year features the most activities they’ve had in one weekend. Saturday evening commences Velo Artiste, the night festivities, and at 7 p.m., Bricks and Bombs art gallery (449 Hearthstone Drive, off Government Street in mid-city) will host a silent auction of affordable bike art. Afterwards, Radio Bar (3079 Government Street) will host the after party.
On Sunday, it’s all going down at the Perkins Road Extreme Sports Park (Perkins Road and Kenilworth). The BMX track and velodrome will be in full use, featuring races, games and prizes for bikers of all ages and skill levels.
The festival is a chance for the community to learn about the progress that has been made in bike safety and the growing appeal of biking. From the casual commuter to the avid cyclist, bikers enjoy marked health benefits from exercise that also doubles as transportation, but they also get to know their surroundings. “It’s hard to know what’s going on around you when you limit yourself solely to transportation in a car,” stated Martin. “Biking is a joyous thing, no matter what the other benefits are…and there are many,” he said. “I’d like people to share in that joy.”
Of course, Martin said, in order to feel the joy and sense of adventure that come from being on bikes, people must feel safe. This has been a tumultuous year for bike safety in our city, as a number of bicyclists have been hurt or killed on the roadways. One of Martin’s top priorities is to see an explication of a Complete Streets plan for Baton Rouge, including moving bike infrastructure development to a “Phase 2” level, which would mean constructing bike accessible routes that go above and beyond simple sharrow markings that remind drivers to share the road.
Regardless of the problem-solving necessary to make Baton Rouge a more bike-friendly place, Martin said he sees all ages in bike shops, looking to renew their long-lost love for bikes.
He recently saw a seventy-year old woman in a bike shop, and when he asked her why she wanted to buy a bike, she answered, “It’s simple: to feel free.”
So there you go, readers: Free yourself this weekend. Roll on out and join the adventure of Velo LA; the joy you find may just surprise you.
For more information on the Velo LA schedule of events, visit:
It’s the Law…
*Children 12 years of age and under are required to wear a helmet.
*When passing bicycles on the road, motorists are obligated to leave a safe distance between their vehicle and a bicycle of not less than three feet.
Farr Park Bicycle Trailhead:
The trailhead is an eighth of a mile long and flows into the 4-mile levee-top trail that extends from the park to downtown Baton Rouge.