Bike Lafayette’s Matthew Holland has been an avid cyclist for a while. While living in New Orleans after college, he rode his bike to his restaurant job every day. When he moved back to Lafayette in the mid-2010s, he wanted to make sure he and other Acadiana residents could do the same, so he started advocating for safer trails and roadways.
“I started noticing a lot of the deficiencies that we have in our roadway designs,” Matthew remembers.
Matthew started working for the nonprofit TRAIL, which puts on cycling and running events to raise money for the expansion of recreational trails across the region. He eventually left his staff position there but continued his advocacy. Joining Bike Lafayette, he found a partner in Andre Angelle (who is also being honored this year), and a platform to channel his passion for cycling into making Lafayette a more bike-friendly community.
“It’s really important that if we want these things in a community that there needs to be a constant voice calling for it and advocating for it,” Matthew says.
With Bike Lafayette, he has served as a voice for cyclists in planning efforts like the Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee and the advisory committee for the I-49 Connector Project.
There have been successes, like the — albeit slow-moving — implementation of Lafayette Consolidated Government’s plans to create a city-wide network of bike trails, starting with a trail connecting Moncus and Girard parks. But, “we have a long way to go,” Matthew acknowledges.
While recognizing the progress made, he is realistic about the challenges Lafayette faces. The city’s design, traffic issues, and the need for a connected network of bicycle facilities make for an uphill battle, but this Lafayette native is determined to win it.
Addressing the Lafayette residents, he calls for collective action: “We need help right now.”
Even those who might not yet be passionate cyclists stand to benefit: “If traffic is something that is a major complaint,” Matthew says, “one of the best ways to alleviate traffic is to get people out of cars.”
Celebrate Matthew and the rest of this year’s honorees Nov. 29 at Moncus Park.