West Baton Rouge levee bike trail work starts with Brusly trailhead _lowres

A 2015 artist rendering by Tipton Associates walking/bike trail showing conceptual drawings of the bike path and trailhead in downtown Brusly.

The Town of Brusly is jumping on the national bike sharing movement, projecting a springtime unveiling that would have its program rolled out within a month.

Mayor Scot Rhodes said the initiative is one he hopes will highlight recreation for visitors to the West Baton Rouge Parish town of 2,700 and encourage residents to become more active.

The program was born from a $23,000 kick-start from Dow Chemical that has funded 14 bicycles to be split between two racks in the area. The first will be placed near the levee trail, and the second at Alexander Park, Rhodes said.

“When I visited California, I mean there’s people outside all the time walking, running, biking, just being outside and I was like ‘it would be great if we could get people doing this over here,’” Rhodes said. “It’s getting better, though, you’ll see it on the levee top in the afternoon soon when it warms up, people out running, walking the dog, kids riding their bikes.”

Rhodes said the goal is for users to ride the levee trail down into Addis and around a yet-to-be-constructed trail loop that would take them past Sugarmill Plantation and down West St. Francis Street, across La. 1 in Brusly and back to the levee. He said if it’s a successful program, he hopes to bring Addis government on board to sponsor more racks along other sections of the trail system.

West Baton Rouge Parish public works director Kevin Durbin said because riders will cross the notoriously high-trafficked La. 1 on that loop route, the parish is working to upgrade pedestrian crossings and assess the length of pedestrian walking timers to accommodate the hoped-for influx of non-motorists.

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Rhodes’ timeline of unveiling in the spring could put the Brusly program ahead of Baton Rouge’s bike share unveiling, which has been a long time coming but still does not have a firm release date.

“I don’t know of any small towns who’ve done it, so I don’t know if people will use it for transportation or leisure,” he said. “In big cities, a lot of people use them to ride from one spot to the other, to go for lunch or that kind of thing, but I think here it’s more to use the levee trail.”

Users will hire the Brusly bikes using a smartphone app, in which they register an account and a fare is calculated based on the time lapsed between when the user unhooks the bike from its rack and when they re-rack it at the same or a different location.

Rhodes said the price of the service hasn’t yet been determined, but part of the agreement with Dow is that its employees can use the bikes for free.

Any money generated from the program will go back into a specific account for maintenance and replacement as needed, he said.

Follow Emma Kennedy on Twitter, @byemmakennedy.