Displaced by Hurricane Katrina, Lafayette bike advocate Andre Angelle’s journey into advocacy started in Oakland, California.
While living in the Bay Area, Andre was a victim of violent crimes and bike-to-car accidents that left him disabled. On disability assistance and searching for a meaningful way to spend his time, he volunteered at a bike kitchen.
At the bike kitchen, he fixed up old bikes — in hopes of earning one of his own — and found purpose in the meantime. “I just sort of got addicted to the program,” Andre says.
Upon his return to Lafayette, he saw an opportunity to bring programming like this to his hometown and started a partnership with Lafayette Consolidated Government to fix up discarded bikes and provide them to residents in need, for free. The program runs without any government funding and provides opportunities, especially for young people, to learn and do something productive with their time, while also getting something in return.
“I saw a perfect fit because there was no one doing anything like it,” he remembers.
As the president of Bike Lafayette, Andre also started the Gleaux Ride, a bi-monthly group ride, where cyclists decorate their bikes with lights and ride around town in an “electrical parade,” creating more visibility for cyclists and hoping to change the community’s perception of cycling.
Andre’s mission is to make cycling a regular part of daily life in Acadiana. The Bike Corral, a free valet parking service for large public events, where parking is likely to be sparse, is another way he hopes to promote cycling as a convenient, alternative mode of transportation. In the past year, Andre estimates that the initiative parked around 300 bikes at major events like Festival International.
One of his most challenging battles has been working toward safer streets in Lafayette, and it’s one he’s hoping to recruit more fellow advocates for.
“We just have dreams and the desire to fight for them,” Andre says. “What I really want people to know is that if they want to join us in this mission, we’re definitely open and available.”
Celebrate Andre and the rest of this year’s honorees Nov. 29 at Moncus Park.