I had been back in town for my high school reunion less than 24 hours and suddenly I felt like a teenager again. “Mom, Dad, can I borrow Mom’s bike and ride to school today?” I asked gingerly. I had good reason to expect them to say “no”. The only road that connects my parent’s subdivision to the rest of town is Perkins Road, a busy, 45 mph highway with no shoulder. I had never ridden a bike to school, or anywhere else useful.
But I had learned from the Baton Rouge Advocates for Safe Streets that a developer had cut a path through the pasture that separates my parents’ 1950s-1970s subdivision from the older neighborhoods built before cars were king. Dad and I had ridden the path the day before, so they knew I wouldn’t have to ride Perkins Road.
My parents said “yes” and I breathed a sigh of relief. Then came the questions: “What route will you take? You won’t take the Perkins Overpass, will you? Can you walk underneath it instead?” Fortunately, I had already plotted out the full 5 mile route using Google maps and streetviews so I was prepared. They seemed satisfied, but I rushed to pack up and roll out before they changed their minds, just like when I was a kid.
The route was easier and more pleasant than expected. I arrived in time for the school tour and was only a little sweaty. It helps when you ride slowly to see the sights and stop to take far too many pictures. But what can I say, I love Baton Rouge. And I’m grateful to finally enjoy it from the seat of a bike.
Were you able to ride a bike or walk to school as a kid? Would you let your kids do it today?
For people interested in touring the Southside and Garden District neighborhoods in Baton Rouge, here’s an annotated map of my route. You can also click on this image to get a higher resolution image of this map.