And so it begins. without a quote today, because I’m just going to tell you a story. About police and bikes…good news.
It’s about perseverance, and has both a giant leap and the baby steps I mentioned in the title of this post. As many of you know, I moved back to New Orleans a few years ago after spending much of my adult life in New Jersey. If you’ve read any of my early blog posts, like this one , or this one (both about law enforcement), or one about road rage, you know of my passion for trying to get everyone to play nice in the sandbox. In 2014, I talked with a couple of friends, active police officers who also ride bikes regularly. They said that officers didn’t have any better knowledge of what it means to ride a bike than anyone else!
So we decided to put together a course on how traffic law applies to bicyclists. We did, tried it out in 2014, the worked with a couple of groups, getting state grants to do the program. We’ve done it most years since then, and participation has been great. So when I moved back to Louisiana, I was all ready to jump in with both feet. That didn’t turn out the way I expected. There is no state bicycling group. I contacted the local police agency to see if we could do it here and ran into one roadblock after another. But…baby steps. I finally was able to present a “pilot” of the course in Kenner, LA. Meanwhile, though, I didn’t stop reaching out to all the names I heard. I didn’t stop calling and emailing people at the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, either. My name was out there (maybe as that crazy bike guy who won’t stop calling)!
Finally, late one Friday, I decided to give just one more try to reach the key person…and she answered the phone. She said,”I want to talk to you!” I replied, “I’ll be in your office as soon as you give me a date and time to be there.” Long story short, I got a grant. It took 5 years. We’re now implementing the program statewide.
There are still plenty of baby steps, though. Getting the details of the course approved took quite a long time, which cut into the length of time I had to actually do the course during the year. Meeting/discussing/organizing sessions (oh yeah, with COVID thrown in the mix!!!) has been even harder than it should have been. But we’re getting there. Two sessions down, several more to go. I’m trying to do it in all regions of the state, so that I can gather a core group of people who know about it and who will champion it to others for next year.
I could keep going, but I’m not going to ask you to keep reading more right now. My next post will tell you a little bit about how it’s going so far. I’m already seeing some interesting patterns in the two sessions I’ve done. Of course, that’s just to tease you so you’ll read the next post. Don’t worry, it’s coming soon!