Posted by Chloe Anderson on June 27, 2017 in Advocacy
Summer 2017 Complete Streets Ambassadors will work to make biking more safe and accessible!
This past weekend, the summer cohort of Complete Streets Ambassadors gathered at Gretna’s Mel Ott Recreation Center on the Westbank to go through our extensive training for all things Complete Streets. These folks will be community leaders highlighting the need for safer and more accessible biking and walking over the next three months and beyond. While the training and ambassador program is in it’s fourth iteration, there was a special addition this weekend. For the first time, folks from Jefferson Parish gathered around the table along side their Orleans Parish neighbors. We are extremely excited to have community leaders focused on Jefferson Parish’s biking and walking needs. The summer cohort of Ambassadors will be working both individually and as a team to ensure that streets in their communities are built to share and lead to healthier, more equitable outcomes for all Greater New Orleans residents.
The weekend’s training focused on the importance of personal story sharing, best practices on pop-up tactical urbanism demonstrations, Complete Streets technical knowledge, the ins and outs of grassroots outreach, and guest lectures from superstar community leaders and advocates. As a new addition to the Bike Easy staff, this was my first time sitting in on the training. It was exciting to watch complete streets veterans share ideas and knowledge with those new to the effort. And on the other hand, it was wonderful to see new perspectives and ideas brought to the conversation from our community ambassadors. The space was full of learning and discovery. I watched as folks around the table thought about their personal biking stories in a new light, discovered a knack for petition gathering, and honed their leadership skills. By the end of the weekend, the Ambassadors were itching to get started and were wondering if they could be involved for longer than our structured three months. The answer to which, by the way, is a resounding “Yes!”
The Orleans Parish and Jefferson Parish Ambassadors efforts will diverge going forward, but remain parallel. Our goals are the same throughout the region whether Central City or Lower 9, East Bank or West Bank – bringing streets built to share to all. For the next three months and beyond, Shaquita Griffin, Lillie Fleury, Cassandra Ruomo, Taylor Scheinuk, Stephen Truxillo, Roi-Lynne Hulin, John Mack III, Cheri Ben-Iesau, and Gloria Moncada will be speaking up and out about the need for complete streets in all neighborhoods of the Greater New Orleans area. They will be attending public meetings in their districts, speaking with neighborhood associations, and voicing their concerns to their elected and agency officials. While working specifically in their own neighborhoods, they’ll also come together as a team to plan and execute a larger-scale project that will bring attention to the positive health and equity outcomes that Complete Streets implementation in both parishes can bring.
We are extremely excited to have this rockstar group of advocates on the Bike Easy team. Stay tuned for more detailed bios and updates from the newest Complete Streets Ambassadors coming soon.
Posted by Robert Henig Bell on June 21, 2017 in Advocacy
Your help is needed to show New Orleans a new vision of safe ways to bike and walk around town.
More and more people are biking in New Orleans – commuting to work and to school, meeting friends, staying healthy. But despite the progress that’s been made, we still have too few safe passageways across town. Preventable crashes are all too common. Whether we’re just beginning to ride or have been biking New Orleans streets our whole lives, we all need safe and reliable ways to get from Point A to Point B.
Beginning this summer, Bike Easy is launching a series of short-run “pop-up” projects to demonstrate how New Orleans streets can be made safe for everyone who uses them. Under the banner, #IBikeNola, with your input we will be picking streets and trouble spots to make safer in neighborhoods all across New Orleans, by turning a painted lane into a protected bikeway, adding crosswalks at a dangerous intersection, or a rest area to an empty transit stop. Each installation will last for only a matter of days or weeks. Our hope is to show what should exist so as to build support for improved biking and walking infrastructure across the city.
The first #IBikeNola installation will be a ‘pop-up’ protected bikeway on St Bernard Avenue, between Saint Claude Avenue and Claiborne Avenue. One of the most heavily biked areas in all New Orleans, protecting riders along this main thoroughfare will do much to improve safety and peace of mind for commuters from the 7th Ward, Gentilly, and neighborhoods alongside City Park and up to the lakefront and UNO. Installation is scheduled to begin the weekend of July 29th and will be open for use from July 31st – August 11th.
Bike Easy is utilizing staff, recruiting volunteers, and providing funding for this project. Help from community residents and local institutions are necessary to make it a success – canvassing neighborhood residents and businesses, collaborating on the design and art work, volunteering for installation and removal, and donating funds and/or materials are what we need to bring a vision of safe passageways to our neighborhoods. We hope you’ll be a part of this vital work!
Come to our standing weekly #IBikeNola Meeting, every Wednesday at 6pm, to hear more about the project and sign up for volunteer opportunities! Bring your friends and family!! This upcoming Wednesday, June 28th, we’ll be meeting at Bike Easy’s office.
Youth Ambassadors help Bike Easy understand transportation priorities and needs for our region’s youth
Bike Easy’s Youth Ambassador Program is a stipended summer opportunity for young adults to build soft and hard work skills, develop community leadership abilities, and impart transportation advocacy knowledge – all through bicycling.
Throughout the 6 week program participants take weekly bike rides exploring the city, receive presentations from community leaders, and think critically about their own solutions for improved transportation in New Orleans.
This summer will be the third consecutive year of youth cohorts working at Bike Easy. This year’s program has a very large focus on story gathering efforts as part of the Connect the Crescent campaign which will include story telling events at Public Libraries and using social media to capture why peers enjoy riding their bikes. Summer ambassadors will also help create and install way-finder signs around Bike Easy led demonstration projects, distribute information and canvas neighbors about potential transportation improvements.
Bike Easy is excited to empower young people to be confident bicyclists, teachers, and leaders. This program is made possible with generous funding from the American Heart Association and our strong partnerships with the Youth Empowerment Project’s Work & Learn Bike Shop, The Net Charter School & New Orleans Public Library.
Come out to prepare for the MS150 on these fun, supported rides throughout the region
Bike Easy is proud to once again host a series of Recommended Rides to help people get ready to participate in the National MS Society’s Bike MS: Dat’s How We Roll 2017.
Through our partnership with the National MS Society, Bike Easy is offering a FREE Membership to all registered MS150 riders! Along with supporting Bike Easy’s education and advocacy work, you’ll receive the benefits of a Bike Easy Member, including special insurance coverage for you and your bike on the MS150 Recommended Rides hosted by Bike Easy this summer. Simply fill out this form to claim your free Bike Easy MS150 Membership.
Bike MS: Dat’s How We Roll is a two-day cycling event that covers 150 miles through the beautiful countryside of Louisiana and Mississippi. This journey to create a world free of multiple sclerosis begins at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana and rides 75 miles north to Percy Quin State Park in McComb, Mississippi. Participants overnight in McComb before heading back to Hammond on Day 2.
You can learn more about the main ride on October 7-8 and register here.
Since riding 150 miles over two days is a challenge, Bike Easy works with the National MS Society Louisiana Chapter and cycling clubs in southeastern Louisiana to provide supported rides throughout the region to help you prepare! All of Bike Easy’s MS Recommended Rides are supported by SAG vehicles, have food & drink rest stops provided by local cycling clubs, and follow marked routes. They roll every Sunday (except Labor Day weekend) from July 16th until the big ride! Mark your calendars now, and more details on each ride will be available soon.
Sunday, July 16 – Lakeshore Drive Recommended Ride: 22 Miles
Sunday, July 23 – Lakeshore Drive Recommended Ride: 30 Miles
Sunday, July 30 – Baton Rouge Recommended Ride: 38 Miles
Sunday, August 6 – Thibodaux Recommended Ride: 42 Miles
Sunday, August 13 – Madisonville Recommended Ride: 41 Miles
Sunday, August 20 – Abita Recommended Ride: 44 Miles
Sunday, August 27 – Abita Recommended Ride: 48 Miles
Sunday, September 10 – Abita Recommended Ride: 51 Miles
For the last 3 weeks, the rides are organized by friends:
Sunday, September 16 – Tour de Tangi by Hammond Kiwanis
Sunday, September 23 – CCC Century by Crescent City Cyclists
Sunday, September 30 – TBD by the Baton Rouge Bike Club
We look forward to seeing you out there riding for a great cause!
Posted by Virginia Brisley on June 2, 2017 in Events
Our first ever month-long biking challenge was a huge success!
Thanks to all for taking part in the 2017 Bike Easy Challenge! Over 1,000 individuals & 100 organizations registered for the Challenge including over 100 New Riders. Altogether you rode over 69,800 miles, that’s more than 20 round trips on the Mississippi River levees from Minnesota to Louisiana. Thank you for contributing to these amazing results.
There were some hiccups with the Love to Ride point system (sorry!), so we took a few extra days to audit the results and ensure that the numbers were accurate. Without further ado, here are our final winning teams:
1st Place (non-workplace): Retired – NOLA
1st Place (500+ staff): City of New Orleans
1st Place (200-499): GE Digital
1st Place (50-199): Howard-Tilton Memorial Library
1st Place (20-49): Trapolin-Peer Architects
1st Place (7-19): Green Coast Enterprises
1st Place (3-6): Law Firm of David Jefferson Dye
Feel free to continue to use the website to keep track of your progress and to set goals to ride more.
A huge thank you to all of our amazing sponsors & prize donors – including Entergy, Social Bicycles, GE Digital, Bike Law, Green Coast Enterprises, CM Jared Brossett, TRAIL, Ace Hotel, Avenue Café, Bookoo Rueda, The New Movement, Capoeira New Orleans & so many MORE!
Posted by Virginia Brisley on May 23, 2017 in Events
Yarvelle Draper King shares her story about bike riding in the Challenge
Yarvelle grew up in New Orleans Lower 9 th Ward, attended St. David Elementary School, Alfred Lawless Jr. High and graduated from Joseph S. Clark Sr. High. Currently an AARP card holder.
“My older brother Prahngar “Cookie” Draper is the reason I joined the “The Bike Easy Challenge”. He was the Challenge Champion for our Retired-NOLA team. Although he is an avid bike rider and regularly participates in bike challenges, I definitely was not. I had not ridden regularly since college. About two years ago, he’d text messaged me a picture of a “fat bike” he’d bought and customized. To me it looked like a motor bike, without the motor and hand controls. When I actually saw his “fat bike”, at his house, I was captivated. So when my next birthday rolled around my husband and three adult children bought one for me. Of course everyone at my birthday party wanted to see me ride it. Uh!! I wasn’t sure how that would go, since it had been a few decades since I had ridden. I stepped out on the faith that the process was still coded within me, and off I went. I was relieved when I finished my ride down the driveway and back! I rode it a couple other times to the mailbox, but that was about it.
When my brother called to ask me to join his team and ride in the challenge, out of loyalty to him, I said yes. As usual, the devil was going to be in the details. I needed a place to ride, where I did not have to deal with traffic and I would need to transport my bike to wherever that was going to be. One of my neighbors suggested I consider riding at the elementary school parking lot about a mile away from my house. I set a goal of riding 100 miles over the 31 days of the challenge, but had no idea if I could actually manage that. Despite the details, I just needed to make it happen. That is generally how I run my life.
Getting the “fat bike” in and out of the car was definitely a challenge especially on the days I did not have my husband or sister to help me. Over time, I learned how to get it in and out more efficiently so I could manage it alone. My sister sometimes walked while I rode and I encouraged my husband to join the challenge, so he rode along with me some days. Using GPS tracking to confirm each mile, was a reward system that helped me maintain perspective. I also learned a few other things along the way that helped me improve. My brother brought up taking breaks during a long ride and also advised that hydration, even more than food was critically important, so I made sure I drank cold water when I took breaks. He was a great coach and motivator for me and the team. I discovered by accident that eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before a ride sustained my energy throughout. Riding a familiar location allowed me to be more efficient in reaching my original goal and then incrementally adding to it over time. The major physical challenges that I needed to overcome were getting a comfortable seat and the burning in my thighs when I began my ride or were nearing the end of a segment. The seat was an easy fix. When my thighs started burning, I began using the breathing I was taught in my Lamaze childbirth management classes, to ride through it.
Within two weeks, I had reached my 100 mile goal. “Well what the heck”, I thought to myself, I might as well keep going! All of a sudden, I was like the Forest Gump of cycling! I looked at the stats for the other riders in the challenge to see how they were doing and realized I could actually be competitive! I rode every day and earned every badge I could. I did not want to have any regrets. Even lost a few pounds!
I thoroughly enjoyed the “The Bike Easy Challenge”, the bike “Second Line”, having the opportunity to share the experience with my brother and husband, and meeting my competitors. I look forward to leaving parking lot cycling behind and exploring parks and trails on a regular basis.”
April in New Orleans is a great time to ride a bike. Bike Easy was so excited to work with our fantastic partners to get more people on bikes riding safely. From adult safety workshops, commuter safety stations, and community bike rides to youth rodeos and in school bike safety classes with teachers and students, we’ve been working across neighborhoods and Parish lines to increase safety for all people on the road!
Early in April as a lead up to Bike to Work Day on April 12, Bike Easy led three community safety workshops on the Lafitte Greenway, uptown at Dat Dog and at Dashing Bicycles. We also hosted multiple commuter safety stations throughout April with the help of our committed volunteers to get folks in gear with safety info and bike maps. Overall, we distributed over 100 bike maps and safe riding guides.
We weren’t just sharing the bike love with adults. We had multiple youth events and classes running throughout April. Keith and Laura were in schools throughout Orleans Parish instructing teachers and students on bike safety tips. Also later in the month, Keith led a community bike ride with NORDC & Gear Up NOLA to encourage families and teens to be more active. Simultaneously on the same day, Virginia led a youth bike rodeo at the Dryades YMCA in Central City for the Healthy Kids Day event. That same weekend were also at the Community Bike Fest on Bayou Road running a youth rodeo for participants.
Bike Easy is committed to making bike riding safe for everyone, regardless of age, gender, where they live or why they bike. Please contact Virginia if you are interested in participating in future safety education events.
Posted by Robert Henig Bell on May 4, 2017 in Advocacy
Meet Gentilly resident and biker, Alfred Roberts aka Uganda the Conga
“My name’s Alfred Roberts, stage name Uganda.. I got that name ‘cause years ago neighborhood friends of mine would hear me playing the three conga drums and they would say, “hey, where y’at Uganda on the conga?”
I was born in the Tremé area. At that time they used to call it the 6th Ward, right outside of the French Quarter. I played the bongos for a lady by the name of Chris Owens and the Morocco girls.
Back in those days they wasn’t really paying the percussionists any money to perform, but it was a honor if the band would let you sit in. You know, it’d be a great thing. So that’s how I got
started, sitting in with a lot of famous jazz musicians. Some of the famous drummers the public may be familiar with was Fats Domino’s drummer Smokey Dorson and another real good jazz drummer by the name of James Black. I used to always sit in with those two cats— one would be there at Sylvia’s and the other was over on Holly’s, Basin and Orleans. 6th ward. Tremé.
Also I played myself in that tv show, Tremé, playing the congas. You see me talking to Dr. John and they was trying to get a song together and they say, “we should have Uganda playing the congas on that.” He looked at me and my part was to say, “yeah, you right, John.” Cause I recorded on his album, also.
Back in my childhood days, I always had a bicycle. I always enjoyed riding a bike. I got involved with guys who used to ride regularly and it broke me of the habit of smoking cigarettes. I stopped smoking. Even up to today I don’t smoke cigarettes anymore.
As I got older, I found out they had bikes with different speeds on them. My first different geared bike was an English racer. It had three gears on it. Through the years I’ve had bicycles stolen from me, cause I don’t really chain up my bike. But I always get another bike.
Then I found out they have full suspension bikes and as I got older I said, “maybe I need a more bouncing bike”. That’s when I got Bertha, here. Now, I feel something’s wrong if I don’t ride at least two or three times a week. I ride three or four miles several times a week. I’m seventy-four now and riding the bike helps me feel better. It’s better to ride the bike than to fill yourself up with a lot of medication. You also get rid of a lot of stress as you’re going through the neighborhood, you know, listening to the birds singing and the breeze blowing. If I don’t do it on a regular basis, I feel like something’s not right.”
Posted by Virginia Brisley on April 27, 2017 in Events
Our region-wide Bike to Work Day grows every year!
April is synonymous with festival season in New Orleans and the best way to bring in the season is to celebrate riding your bike when you’re not festing, but going to work! This year’s annual Bike to Work Day on April 12 was another huge success showing our collective strength in numbers and demonstrating why New Orleans is in the top 10 American cities for bike commuting.
Over 100 bike riders gathered in Lafayette Square on the morning of April 12. Bike trains crossed town (or the river) to meet at the Sq for bagels provided by Stein’s Deli, snacks by Whole Foods, hot coffee from French Truck Coffee, and iced coffee from Rouler.
We heard from Councilmembers Guidry, Brossett, and Cantrell about the importance of biking as transportation tool for all riders. We also heard from Social Bicycles about the bike share program launching in Fall 2017 which will expand transportation options for residents of the region. Additionally tons of free swag were distributed to riders by sponsoring organizations: Entergy, GE Digital, Bike Law, Friends of Lafitte Greenway, Energy Wise, TRAIL, and Adam’s Bicycle World.
Bike to Work Day 2017 also marked the launch of our month long Bike Easy Challenge which is currently running now through May 12! The Challenge gives extra points to riders for bike commuting, so everyone at the Sq that morning got 50 points for riding to work!
A huge thanks goes to our event & food sponsors as well as meet up location hosts: Royal Blend Coffee & Tea in Metairie; Hey! Cafe on Magazine St; Daddy’s Donuts in Gentilly; The New Movement on St Claude; and Dashing Bicycles. We also heard from folks at the Grow Dat Youth Farm, US Army Corps of Engineers, and various elementary schools that weren’t able to join us at Lafayette Sq but were holding celebrations at their work sites for bike commuters!
Posted by Virginia Brisley on March 27, 2017 in Events
Team champions/captains motivate co-workers to ride more!
The Bike Easy Challenge is a fun and free competition to encourage you, your friends and colleagues to experience the joys and benefits of riding a bike. The Challenge is not just about who can ride the most miles, but who can encourage the most people to give bicycling a try.
To register your workplace team, simply register at https://www.lovetoride.net/bikeeasy and indicate that you are affiliated with an organization in the registration steps. If your workplace is already registered, the organization name will be shown on the drop down menu. If you are the first to register at your workplace, then you are automatically assigned the Workplace Champion role. If you’d like another co-worker to take that assignment just let Bike Easy know.
As Champion, your goal is to get as many workmates as possible to register, ride, and record their rides. Your main focus will be to encourage your colleagues to join your team and help engage other riders. You can send them inspirational messages, reminding them to record their rides and motivate them to keep riding! Your role is to work with other Champions and regular riders in your workplace to spread the word about the Bike Easy Challenge.
Remember the more folks you encourage to ride bikes with you the more points your team earns. Bike Easy will lead a lunch time conference call to share more information about the Bike Easy Challenge and being a Workplace Team Champion. Please RSVP to Virginia if you will participate!