Marissa Frayer is an in-house copywriter for a global home furnishing company based in Sweden. She misses Abita beer and frozen daiquiris, but she does not miss mixing those with vehicles.
While I agree with Mark E. Martin's Rant in the March 2012 issue, and I fully support his call to increase Baton Rouge's friendliness toward pedestrians and bikes, there's something simple everyone can do until the city becomes connected: call a cab. Mayor-President Kip Holden said it best in The Advocate: “A wider roadway would not have necessarily dictated that a biker or a pedestrian, or a car, would not have been hit by a person who was intoxicated.”
Fingers have been pointed in various directions after Joseph Branch's reckless blood alcohol level of .307 led to Nathan Crowson's death and Danny Morris's severe injuries last December. But how many fingers are we pointing back at ourselves? It's a rare soul in south Louisiana who has never had a few—or a few too many—and gotten behind the wheel. Our culture is complicit. Camaraderie in Louisiana is often the collective sigh of safely pulling into your driveway unscathed after a night of drinking.
For me, this only started to sound strange when I explained it to other people. A Baton Rouge native, I now live in Malmö, Sweden—a city where about 280,000 stay connected with efficient public transportation and more than 254 miles of bike lanes. That's even more than famously bike-friendly Copenhagen. You know what Malmö does not have? Social or judicial tolerance for drunk driving. One drink—a BAC of .02—is the limit for drivers. It's not that they don't party in Malmö; it's that they party responsibly.
When I tell people in Sweden about how my friends and I would have a designated drinker in lieu of a designated driver, they are mortified at best. My tales of being a passenger in a car that was drunkenly driven up the interstate offramp are as harrowing to them now as they should have been for me then. But years ago, I didn't stop to think about it. Drinking and driving, though shameful and dangerous, was a part of life.
It's absolutely not a part of life in Sweden, where punishments for drunk driving are a fine or imprisonment up to six months and loss of license for up to a year. And when serious offenders add manslaughter, they are looking at prison terms of up to eight years. Every year, about 75 people of Sweden's nine million die in alcohol-related traffic accidents. In 2010, Louisiana had 225 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities. And we're just one state of 4.5 million, not an entire country.
I'm all for second chances, but it doesn't seem that Branch learned anything from his first DUI. Maybe after this accident and his stint in rehab, his eyes will be sober and opened to the consequences of driving while intoxicated. Mine are. I realize now that every time I drove drunk—however far above or below the legal limit—I was gambling with the chances of harming myself and others. Though I was somehow never in an alcohol-related accident, I feel I used up my second chances.
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Bad Guys, Good Eats! Pop-Up Dinner at Restaurant IPO
Chef and 225 contributor Jay D. Ducote and Chef Chris Wadsworth hosted the Bad Guys, Good Eats! dinner at Restaurant IPO Wednesday night. The dinner was themed around famous movie villains, pairing cocktails and ales with plates of food resembling famous baddies like The Joker, Lord Voldemort, Hannibal Lector, and many others. The highlights of the night were the three middle courses—a black bean soup laced with blood sausage to signify Lord Voldemort, a brace of coneys on black eyed peas resembling Sauron, and lamb medallions atop a fava bean puree to pay homage to the famous favorite of Hannibal Lector.
Elizabeth Arkley Hammett, a local nursing student and Fur Ball co-coordinator, and her husband Grey Hammett III, who works in commercial real estate, will take you through our summer guide. And they'll look good while doing it, too. Where noted, their clothes and accessories are available from local retailers.
These swimsuits will keep you stylish all summer long
Better Block BR
On Saturday the two blocks between Bedford and Beverly drives on April 13, 2013, residents will get to see a model of what Government Street could look like if we push local and state officials to update the roadway to a safer, more "complete street" model.