All Critical Mass rides meet at 5:30pm on the last Friday of the month in front of the LSU Memorial Clocktower facing the Parade Grounds. See LSU's Campus Map for location.
A Recent History
Critical Mass Baton Rouge occurred most months in 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002 with at least 25 people at most rides. Many of these rides had themes and oftentimes costumes. Rides frequently included a Highland Road route to downtown. Photos forthcoming.
The most recent generation of Critical Mass Baton Rouge began in March 2005; this ride was reported by LSU's campus newspaper, The Daily Reveille, in the article Takin' It to the Street. Fewer than a dozen riders participated until January 2006. For the next few months rides regularly had around twenty participants. The April 2006 ride was featured in a story on Tiger TV, the closed campus television station, coinciding with the last Transitions BMX festival and the birth of Baton Rouge Advocates for Safe Streets (B.R.A.S.S.) http://brsafestreets.org, a bicyclists' and pedestrians' rights advocacy group. In March 2007, participants numbered over fifty, and subsequent rides counted over seventy-five bicyclists, likely due to advertising for the Step It Up ride organized after LSU's Alternative Earth Day, sponsored by the Environmental Conservation Organization at LSU.
122 bicycles, 2 dogs, and a young child celebrated the 15th Anniversary of Critical Mass (originating in California as "Commute Clot") in September 2007; this was reported by LSU's campus newspaper, The Daily Reveille, in the article Local Bicyclist Ride to Assert Right to the Road; both the reporter and the photographer participated in the ride! This marked the beginning of organized post-ride activities such as dinner together at local restaurants and after-parties with ample bicycle parking! Cyclists donned costumes for the October 2007 "Pumpkin Mass" and excessive lights for the November 2007 "Spectacle of Lights". The mass surpassed 150 bicycles for the first time on Leap Day in February 2008 with many first-time riders! Coinciding with the ride, local 225 Magazine released the article 225 Things to Do in Baton Rouge "in no particular order", including:
136] Hit the streets—even the busy ones—and cycle the city the last Friday of every month with fellow cyclists as they raise awareness and teach others how to share the road during the city’s version of Critical Mass. Listen for shouts of "Yeah bike!"
The March 2008 ride, documented here by Sid and posted on the old Critical Mass Baton Rouge MySpace page, ended at Mid City Bikes for the video premiere of Darkside Productions' "Louisiana Young Guns 2", supporting the Baton Rouge BMX scene, a group that has long supported Critical Mass Baton Rouge. Just days before the July 2008 ride, which was documented by stillrising77's YouTube video, 225 Magazine announced Critical Mass on its Events Calendar under "Is bicycling -- dare we say it -- cosmopolitan?":
"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race," said sci-fi writer H.G. Wells. You’ve got two shots at group bike-riding this week – one for policy and one for partying. Start out with the Highland Road Bike Ride before the DOTD planning meeting on pedestrian and bike paths. Meet bicyclists around the city at 5 p.m. sharp Thursday at the LSU Clocktower; the group will cycle down Highland Road to the Bluebonnet Library just in time for the 6 p.m. meeting, when the state agency will hear ideas on bike policy. Since the group ride is near sunset, participants must wear helmets and have lights on their bikes. The next day is the popular monthly Critical Mass, which begins at 5:30 p.m., LSU Clocktower. A pool party follows the ride, so bring your swimsuit and a towel. Free.
The August 2008 ride, just days before Hurricane Gustav, teased the record with 183 bikes, falling just a few riders short of the record set in March. However, the September 2008 ride smashed the record with a total of 220 bicycles, ending up at an afterparty that featured art for sale and music by The Tellers! The October 2008 ride, documented by stillrising77's YouTube video, on Halloween night fell just short of the new record at 218 bikes and ended back on campus, where participants attended the art show at the Foster Gallery and then headed over to the annual Carlotta Street Party. The December 2008 ride was our version of a Carrot Mob, where we supported local businesses like (the now closed) Living Foods.
The January 2009 ride may have seen as many as 250 bicyclists with many first-timers, who enjoyed each other's company for about 10 miles before ending up at the new Mid City Bikes location on Government Street. The February 2009 ride broke the 250 record, ending up at Stabbed in the Art, postponed from Friday, February 13th. Fewer riders than usual showed up for the March 2009 because of impending rain but made it to the location of the new Thursday Farmers Market on Perkins Road before turning around for the return ride in the rain. The huge turnout returned in April 2009, breezed through Live After Five downtown, and then circled back for the music as well as a senior exhibit at the LSU Museum of Art.
Baton Rouge's newspaper The Advocate reported the story Cyclists converge on the streets along with two large color photos of the June 2009 ride, even if the intense heat and threatening thunderstorms kept our numbers below a hundred for the first time in almost two years! Tiger Weekly also publicized this ride in the article Becoming a bicycle friendly Louisiana. The July 2009 ride, whose 185 participants (including a tandem and a rollerblader!) are documented in chadwickhjones' YouTube video, celebrated the appearance of "share the road" sharrows all over Baton Rouge as part of the Mayor's map of proposed bike miles in town , and the Mayor's film crew even showed up to collect footage for an upcoming 30-second bike public service announcement commercial spot.
The roughly 275 participants of the August 2009 ride (themed Pirates vs. Ninjas for Arrrrgust) posed for a picture on the steps of the new State Capitol for a story in an upcoming edition of LSU's student media magazine, the Legacy, but if you can't wait, check out clips in this video posted on the new all-purpose biking in Baton Rouge website, The BR Biker. The September 2009 ride featured a safe route to Whole Foods and coincided with the release of the Legacy article about Critical Mass entitled Yeah Bike!. You can count approximately 185 riders in chadwickhjones' YouTube video. Also filmed at the ride was this Short stop motion experiment at a Baton Rouge Critical Mass by Ian Pollard.
A first time rider on the September ride had such a great experience, he wrote an opinion piece for LSU's campus newspaper, The Daily Reveille, called Murda, He Wrote: Critical Mass bike ride is more than just good times, timed for publication the day before the next Mass. This was also the day that local 225 Magazine released its special bike-themed issue, featuring the cover story Baton Rouge comes full cycle with a pre-Mass photo, an ad for the ride, and the usual badmouthing. Furthermore, this Mass marked the kick-off of LSU's fourth annual Bike Week, which launched the website LSU Bikes! through Student Government. The October 2009 ride itself, which mimicked the Velo Muerto B.R.A.S.S. ride, toured cemeteries in town and attracted quite a costumed crowd despite the downpours that evening.
Around this time, a local cyclist and musician wrote a Critical Mass song, which you can now find on Ben Herrington's MySpace page. Rides were small for the next few months: the day after Thanksgiving in November 2009; Christmas Day in December 2009 ending at Zippy's on Perkins; and more rain for January 2010. Still more rain kept the mass small for February 2010, which ended at North Gate Tavern for the first ever BIKE PROM with DJ Otto who kicked off WTF early for us. The March 2010 ride returned to over 200 cyclists, who cheered on the LSU Cycling Team's Friday Night Crit. Despite the summer lull, around a hundred people showed up for the May 2010 ride, which ended downtown to catch the last Live After 5 of the season.
Updated May 29th, 2010
As of July 2007, a monthly calendar of bicycle rides in Baton Rouge has been published and distributed at Critical Mass. Copies can now be found at http://www.brsafestreets.org/monthly-bike-calendars. Some of the regular monthly rides include:
- every Sun: Bike polo!
- every Sun: Fly by Nights (speed) 8:30pm at Garden District Tennis Courts
- (most) Wed: Weber Wednesdays (road bikes) 7:15pm at Garden District Tennis Courts
- every Tues/Thurs: Training Race 5:30pm (racing) Farr Park at River Rd during Day Light Savings months
- every Sat: Farmers’ Market Ride 9am leaves Highland Coffees 9:25am
- 1st Sun: FREE Museums Ride (downtown) 1pm meets at Highland Coffees
- 1st Fri: B.R.AlleyCat bike-messenger style race
- mid-month Fri or Sat: Critical Sass (Ladies Only ride & dudes in drag) 6:30pm meets at Highland Coffees
- 2nd Thurs: Bicycle-Pedestrian Meeting 5:30-7pm at CRPC office, 333 N. 19th St.
- 3rd Tues/Wed: B.R.A.S.S. Works Maintenance & Repair classes ($5+ donation each) 6:30-8pm at The Bicycle Shop, Tuesday beginner, Wednesday intermediate. Bring your bike and a cleaning rag. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 3rd Thurs: Design (the next month)'s Calendar meeting 8pm at Highland Coffees
- 4th Thurs: B.R.A.S.S. Meeting 6:30-7:45pm Carver branch library 720 Terrace St. Ride together 5:55pm from the Bicycle Shop on Highland
Please keep in mind some rides may have changed.
This was the first calendar:
Louisiana Rules of the Road
According to BRgov.com Official Baton Rouge Government Website:
LOUISIANA LAWS RELATED TO BICYCLING
RS 32:106 Methods of Giving Hand and Arm Signals
All signals herein required to be given from the left side of the vehicle in the following manner and such signals shall indicate as follows:
Left Turn: Hand and arm extended horizontally with the had open and the back of the hand to the rear
Right Turn: Hand and arm extended upward at the angle of forty-five degrees from shoulder or elbow, with the hand open and back of the hand to the rear
Stop or Decrease Speed: Start hand and arm extended downward at an angle of forty-five degrees from shoulder or elbow, with the hand open and the back of the hand to the rear
RS 32:193 Operation of Bicycles; General Provision
The regulations applicable to bicyclists shall apply whenever a bicycle is operated upon a highway or upon any path set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.
RS 32:194 Traffic Laws Apply to Persons Riding Bicycles
Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway of this state shall be granted all the rights and shall be subject to all the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle.
RS 32:195 Riding on Bicycles
A person propelling a bicycle shall not ride other than upon or astride a permanent or regular seat attached thereto.
No bicycle shall be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed and equipped.
A person operating a bicycle shall at all times keep at least one hand upon the handle bars thereof.
RS 32:196 Clinging to Vehicles
No person riding upon any bicycle shall attach himself or the bicycle to any vehicle upon a highway.
RS 32:197 Riding on Roadways and Bicycle Paths
Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction.
Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.
Whenever a usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a roadway, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the roadway.
RS 32:199 Bicycle Helmets; Restraining Seats
With regard to any bicycle used on a public roadway, public bicycle path, or other public right-of-way, no parent, guardian, or person with legal responsibility for the safety and welfare of a child shall knowingly allow any of the following:
Such child under the age of twelve to operate or ride as a passenger on a bicycle without wearing an approved helmet of good fit fastened securely upon the head with the straps of the helmet.
Such child who weighs less than forty pounds or is less than forty inches in height to be a passenger on a bicycle without being properly seated in and adequately secured to a restraining seat.
Notice shall be provided in accordance with the following provisions:
A person regularly engaged in the business of selling or renting bicycles shall post a sign stating the following: "Louisiana law requires a bicycle operator or passenger under the age of twelve years to wear a bicycle helmet when riding a bicycle. Louisiana law also requires a passenger who weighs less than forty pounds or is less than forty inches in height to be properly seated in and adequately secured to a restraining seat."
The sign must be at least twenty-four inches in length and twelve inches in width. The lettering on the sign must be at least one inch in height. The sign must be posted conspicuously so that it is clearly visible to all persons buying or renting bicycles.
The issuance of a citation for a violation of this Section shall not be prima facie evidence of negligence. The comparative negligence statutes of Louisiana shall apply in these cases as in all other cases of negligence.
The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission shall provide funds to the Louisiana Safe Kids Coalition to be used for the purchase of bicycle helmets. These helmets shall be distributed by the Louisiana Safe Kids Coalition to indigent persons in furtherance of the provisions of this Section.
The provisions of R.S. 32:57 shall not apply to a violation of this Section. No civil penalties or court costs shall be assessed for any violation of this Section.
RS 32:329 Bicycles; Front Lamps; Side and Rear Reflectors
Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five (5) hundred feet tot eh front and with a red reflector on the rear and a reflector on each side facing outward at the right angle to the bicycle frame, all of a type approved by the department which shall be visible from all distances within six (6) hundred feet to one hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of five (5) hundred feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector.
After December 31, 1974 no person shall sell or offer for sale any bicycle unless such a bicycle is equipped with at least one red reflector on the rear and one reflector on each side as required by this section. This section shall not apply to bicycles while engaged in sanctioned competition races.
RS 32:346 Brakes on Bicycles
Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement.
LSU Rules of the Road
According to LSU's Office of Parking, Traffic, and Transportation:
Regulations have been established to provide for the orderly movement and parking of bicycles on campus. In using bicycles on campus, the rights and safety of others should be considered at all times. Students may be charged with a violation of the Code of Student Conduct for riding a bicycle on a sidewalk or parking or storing a bicycle in a University building.
63. A Baton Rouge city ordinance requires that bicycles be registered. Since several city streets traverse campus, it is recommended that all students register their bicycles with the Baton Rouge City Police Department. The fee for this registration is $5.
64. Bicycle riders are subject to the same rules as motor vehicle operators and should ride on the right hand side of the street, obey all traffic signals and signs, and give hand signals.
65. Bicycles will not be ridden on sidewalks or lawns.
66. Bicycles will be parked in bicycle racks, in other designated parking areas, or on lawns.
67. Bicycles may not be operated or parked inside buildings, on sidewalks, in passageways to the Quadrangle, in any location impeding pedestrian and vehicular movement, or in such a way as to create a hazard.
68. Bicycles will be chained only to bicycle racks.
69. Persons violating bicycle regulations will be ticketed and fined $7. Severe violations will result in the bicycle being impounded and an additional $5 fee assessed.
70. All bicycles found on campus between the end of the summer term and the beginning of the fall semester will be considered abandoned and will be impounded. A bicycle may be claimed, with proof of ownership, at the Office of Parking, Traffic, & Transportation. After 60 days unclaimed bicycles may be disposed of. The University is not responsible for damage to bicycles or bicycle locks incurred during the impoundment procedure.
- Baton Rouge Advocates for Safe Streets, a local bicyclists' rights advocacy group
- www.myspace.com/criticalmassbatonrouge Critical Mass Baton Rouge Myspace page
- [www.criticalmassbatonrouge.org/ Critical Mass Baton Rouge blog site, with photos!]
- BicycleSafe.com, with tips to safe riding
- Bicycling Street Smarts: Riding Confidently, Legally and Safely
Much of the site (except for the History) updated October 31st, 2009