Bike Easy Members and community partners gathered December 13th to recognize Bike Easy Award winners.
Every December Bike Easy hosts its Annual Membership Party. It’s a time to review needed bylaw changes, reflect on accomplishments from the year, and honor those who have gone above and beyond. Bike Easy is beyond happy to recognize the following people and entities.
The Bike Easy Award – Blue Bikes New Orleans
Bike Easy has advocated for bike share in New Orleans for nearly a decade, and we are thrilled to present The 2017 Bike Easy Award to the bike share system that has just launched – Blue Bikes New Orleans! Bike share is an important addition to public transportation, and we envision a system that helps residents get around, improves health and safety, and adds to quality-of-life by increasing mobility options. Bike Easy especially commends the reduced fare option that makes Blue Bikes accessible to low-wealth residents.
Blue Bikes New Orleans is a joint project of the City of New Orleans, Social Bicycles, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana. To truly honor Blue Bikes it requires recognition of the teamwork that went into making New Orleans bike share a reality. In a slight departure from tradition, Blue Bikes New Orleans is the award winner, and we’ll be presenting an award certificate to each of the organizations involved.
Community Partner Award – American Heart Association
The American Heart Association works to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. With an incredible scope and range of work, Bike Easy is thrilled that the American Heart Association has developed a focus on making walking and biking more accessible choices for all people to improve health and health equity. The local affiliate of the American Heart Association is deeply involved with the New Orleans and Jefferson Parish Complete Streets Coalitions, and the American Heart Association Voices for Healthy Kids program, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, generously funds Bike Easy’s work to bring streets built to share to Greater New Orleans.
Peter Duffy Bennett Policy Advocate Award – Tara Tolford, University of New Orleans Transportation Institute
For years, Tara has been a fierce and unapologetic advocate for better mobility for the people of Greater New Orleans, whether walking, biking, or taking transit. From her work managing the Sustainable Transportation Action Committee to the on-going Bicycle and Pedestrian counts, Tara’s years of hard work are paying off. In 2017, it seemed like she has been anywhere and everywhere these conversations were happening – Chair of the New Orleans City Council Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Advisory Committee; member of both the New Orleans and Jefferson Parish Complete Streets Coalitions; member of the Walk / Bike / Places Local Host Committee; expert trainer for Bike Easy’s Complete Streets Ambassadors Program; technical advisor to Bike Easy; member of the RTA Riders Advisory Committee; and probably many things we don’t even know about!
It’s overwhelmingly clear that Tara has already had an enormous impact on improving our region, and when you know her, you also know just how much farther she intends to go. Her ongoing dedication to better walking, biking, and transit (among many other important causes) is an inspiration to us all.
Volunteer of the Year Award – Allene La Spina
Allene is always there when Bike Easy asks, and she’s always smiling and bringing joy to the work. As an active member of the social ride scene, Allene helps connect Bike Easy to the efforts of the larger bike community. She also puts in many hours with Bike Easy. Whether its shifts at Bike Valet, using her skills as a graphic designer or helping set up at events, everyone at Bike Easy is grateful for Allene’s contributions to the many projects she supports. Allene is also a trained League Cycling Instructor who spreads the message of improved bike safety wherever she goes. Thanks for all your help, Allene!
An overview of the Complete Streets for Health Equity Report Release Luncheon
The Complete Streets Health Equity Report Release Luncheon was held at the Greater New Orleans Foundation on Wednesday, December 6th. This event brought together attendees from many different organizations throughout Greater New Orleans to share how complete streets improves health equity and to present strategies for building on the momentum that has taken hold for biking and walking in Greater New Orleans.
Attendees included representatives from the City of New Orleans, the City of Kenner, Jefferson Parish, Orleans Parish, the American Heart Association, Tulane PR, Social Bicycles, Blue Bikes NOLA, local businesses, and engaged citizens.
Eric ‘Doc’ Griggs, an advocate for biking and healthy lifestyles and a Bike Easy board member, kicked off the event.
Dan Favre, Executive Director of Bike Easy, gave an overview of the report which is intended to evaluate the impact that Complete Streets initiatives have on improving health equity. Dan discussed how complete streets are a policy approach that works best when utilizing performance measures within an evaluation framework to track progress as new streets built to share are implemented.
Following Dan’s overview was a community panel discussion moderated by Coretta LaGarde from the American Heart Association. The panel consisted of Renard Bridgewater of the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans, Michelle O’Flynn who is a disabled person who regularly bikes for transportation in Jefferson Parish, Angela Chalk of the Louisiana Public Health Association, and Tony Ligi of the Jefferson Business Council. Panel members shared ideas about increasing safety, educating motorists and bikers about how to safely share the roadway, and key connection points that need improvement across Greater New Orleans.
The government panel featured Dr. Joe Kanter the Interim Director of the New Orleans Health Department, Dwight Norton the Urban Mobility Coordinator in the Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Sustainability, and Michael Ince the Director of Community Development in the City of Kenner. This panel answered questions about strategies for implementing complete streets policies and moving towards a safer and more equitable biking network.
The people and perspectives in the room clearly demonstrate the appeal, opportunity, and and need for Complete Streets. Those who attended the event represented issues and organizations such as smart stormwater management, our public libraries, music and culture in the city, anti-gentrification, public health as well as many others. We at Bike Easy recognize that Complete Streets do not only benefit those who bike and walk but also those who interact with the built environment, everyone!
Posted by Dan Favre on December 6, 2017 in Advocacy
An Evaluation of New Orleans and Jefferson Parish
At Bike Easy, we celebrate the simple joy of bicycling, and we also know the power of mobility as a means to an end. Not only do better biking, walking, and transit get individuals to their destinations on a daily basis, improved mobility options will also enable our region to get where it needs to be for a healthy future. Today, we are proud to stand with members of the New Orleans and Jefferson Parish Complete Streets Coalitions, the National Complete Streets Coalition, and the American Heart Association Voices for Healthy Kids program to release a report that details how New Orleans and Jefferson Parish can maximize the benefit of Complete Streets for health equity.
As individuals, organizations, and governments work to tackle the critical issues in the region – poor health outcomes and inequity, economic development and job access, crime and public safety, affordable housing, flooding and impacts of climate change – it is becoming clear that how people get around, or struggle to get around, affects so many aspects of life and levels of decision-making.
Safe, convenient transportation options for everyone in greater New Orleans are essential to our vision of an equitable, vibrant future. Streets built to share are safe for people biking, people walking, people taking transit, and people driving. The complete streets approach is based on the premise that everybody, regardless of who they are, where they live, or how they get around, should have the option to travel in a safe and convenient manner.
It turns out that the road to healthier neighborhoods is literally a better road.
In this report, we also evaluate where we stand today in the region… Since New Orleans passed its Complete Streets ordinance in 2011, tremendous progress has been made, especially in the growth of bike lanes and the number of people riding, but many of the promises of the ordinance remain unfulfilled. In Jefferson Parish, there is great momentum with the passage of the Bicycle Master Plan in 2014 and a recent bond measure that is funding many projects to improve walking and biking, yet there is no comprehensive Complete Streets Program or approach.
Our analysis also found stark disparities that must be addressed:
In New Orleans and Jefferson Parish, 36% of people live in high-poverty census tracts, yet 67% of crashes involving people walking and biking happen in these places.
Black residents in New Orleans are underrepresented in bike ridership but overrepresented in crashes involving bicyclists. Similarly, in Jefferson Parish, black individuals make up only about 26 percent of Jefferson Parish’s population but over 40 percent of bicycle injuries and fatalities.
Louisiana still lags the nation in number of adults receiving recommended amount of physical activity, and income and level of education have a huge bearing on the likelihood of experiencing diabetes, heart disease, asthma and other chronic diseases.
When designed through meaningful community engagement, Complete Streets can particularly benefit low-income neighborhoods and communities of color that have been historically disinvested and where people experience disproportionate rates of chronic diseases, are at higher risk of being struck and killed by cars while walking, and are less likely to own a car.
The “Complete Streets for Health Equity” report lays out specific recommendations for New Orleans and Jefferson Parish to maximize the benefits of investments in streets built to share. We look forward to working with decision-makers, community leaders, and concerned citizens throughout the region to create Complete Streets programs that continue to move us down the road towards a healthy, prosperous, and equitable future for all people in Greater New Orleans.
A new form of transportation for the City of New Orleans
Bike share is a transportation program that allows you to go from point A to point B quickly and efficiently. Used alone or paired with other forms of transportation it increases accessibility to various parts of the city.
Bike Easy has advocated for a New Orleans bike share system for many years. We’ve emphasized community engagement, equitable access, and a focus on safety throughout the process of establishing the bike share system that launches today, December 5th!
In New Orleans, bike share will be known as Blue Bikes NOLA. This program is privately funded and designed to primarily accommodate residents as an additional public transportation choice while also being available to visitors.
Blue Bikes operate as a “smart” bike share, meaning the bike contains the computer technology within it. The bright blue hubs are the designated parking areas for the bikes, but users can lock a bike to undesignated racks. Keep in mind that parking at an undesignated rack will incur a one dollar charge. This charge can be credited by returning the bike to a blue bike hub.
If you want to make sure someone else doesn’t pick up your bike when you stop for an errand such as grabbing a coffee, you can place it on hold. The hold will allow you to lock the bike without it becoming available to other users.
Users can pay for bike share as they go or sign up for Blue Bike monthly subscriptions. The cost is $8 an hour (prorated by the minute), $15 a month for 1 hour a day, and reduced fare $20 a year for 1 hour a day. For more information on registering and signing up for a Blue Bikes plan, visit Blue Bikes – New Orleans Bike Share.
Bike Easy is excited to see bike share launch in New Orleans as an equitable transportation option. Blue Bikes are a convenient way to commute to work, make groceries, or get to a friends house. This system will enhance the ability to take short trips safely while promoting a healthy lifestyle. The best way to increase bike culture and safety is by getting on a bike!
Blue Bikes NOLA is managed by Social Bicycles in partnership with the City of New Orleans and sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield Louisiana.
Posted by Virginia Brisley on November 27, 2017 in Events
Volunteer to get more people riding bikes in 2018
We are seeking volunteers of all kind to contribute to the planning and roll out of the 2018 Bike Easy Challenge and Bike to Work Day events. Bike to Work Day builds community among bicycle commuters and Bike Easy members, raises awareness around the city for people who bike for transportation, and also makes a strong statement of support for continued social and physical investment in better bicycle facilities in our city. Last year Bike Easy also launched the region’s first ever month-long biking challenge on Bike to Work Day in April.
The combined events in 2017 were incredibly successful. We’re excited to have an even bigger impact in 2018 with the goal of getting even more individuals and organizations actively involved. We need your help to celebrate bicycle commuting!
If you like event planning, outreach, encouraging others to ride, or just want to get more involved with Bike Easy, this is a great opportunity! Volunteers will meet regularly to focus on:
recruiting more bike riders;
outreach to organizations and businesses;
creating & sharing social media content;
promoting the events;
planning logistics and details for successful events.
Contact Virginia for more information and to join the planning team.
Posted by Heather Haylett on November 21, 2017 in Events
Phase 1 of Blue Bike stations map has been released.
The City of New Orleans in partnership with Social Bicycles is preparing to launch bike share. Bike Easy is excited for an additional transportation option to be available to the residences of New Orleans. Bikes will begin to be available in early December and continue to roll out for 4-6 weeks. For an interactive map click here
Posted by Heather Haylett on November 15, 2017 in Events
A summary of Bike Easy events from the last two weeks.
Bike Easy strives to make being on bike easy, safe, and fun for everyone. Through education, advocacy, and community events we spread our message of an inclusive bike culture throughout Greater New Orleans. Here’s a sampling of what we’ve been up to the last two weeks:
Monday, October 30th through Friday, November 3rd:
ISL Olivier: Lauren Nagel, a local League Cycling Instructor, reached out to Bike Easy to provide an after-school bike rodeo for students at the International School of Louisiana in Algiers and is a champion for ongoing bike activities in schools.
Walk & Roll Club at Success Prep: This program began at the beginning of October and takes place once a week at Success Prep Academy. Students walk, bike and explore the benefits of active transportation. The school’s location right next to the Lafitte Greenway is perfect for on-bike practice.
Saturday, November 4th through Sunday, November 5th:
Central City Festival: This festival celebrates the neighborhood the Bike Easy Office calls home. We had Bike Valet, a table with advocacy information, and provided a bike rodeo for kids.
Monday, November 6th through November 10th:
Tulane Internship Fair: The Center for Public Service at Tulane University put on an internship fair to match students to organizations for the spring semester. Find our internship descriptions at BikeEasy.org.
Pine View Middle School in Covington: Bike Easy provides on & off bike safety programs to 4th & 5th-grade students in their PE classes. Pine View will join the celebration of walking and biking during the region-wide ‘Walk & Roll to School Week’ in May.
Saturday, November 11th through Sunday, November 12th:
People Say! Power of the Vote Rally: A rally was held by the Triangle Neighborhood Association to increase the number of people voting in the runoff elections. Bike Easy gave out free bike maps and collected signatures for the Complete Streets Petition.
Bike Valet at Oak Street Po-Boy Festival: Bike Easy set up Bike Valet at Fidelity Bank on the corner of Plum and Carrollton at the annual Oak Street Po-Boy Festival.
Posted by Heather Haylett on November 14, 2017 in Events
Bike Valet- a free service that promotes easy, safe, and fun biking.
Finding parking when you arrive at your destination requires looking for a secure spot to lock up. Rolling up to a festival on your bike can make this task even more overwhelming if it’s busy and the bike racks are full. Bike Valet is a service that alleviates this issue.
Bike Valet is a free service that operates similarly to a coat check. At a festival, a corral is set up and protected by barricades. When you arrive, a volunteer will give you a tag with a number that correlates to a numbered card placed on your bike. You are then free to go and enjoy the festival! Your bike is protected and the service is free.
Why Bike Valet Is Important
Bike Valet makes it possible for people to ride their bikes to an event when they might have otherwise been discouraged due to lack of bike parking. Providing Bike Valet helps with the larger goal of making biking an equitable and safe transit choice. Getting people out on bike shows support for bike culture throughout Greater New Orleans.
People who are on bike serve as advocates and show that riding a bike can be easy, safe, and fun. The more people out riding bikes and following the rules of the road increases, the more that support for improved bike infrastructure will grow.
How it supports Bike Easy
Bike Valet is volunteer run and gives people who love to ride a chance to engage with other people who love bikes. It also offers Bike Easy the opportunity to be exposed to a large group of festival goers and spread our message. At the Bike Easy tent people can grab free bike maps, ask questions, and sign up as members.
Bike Valet makes for an enjoyable experience for everyone involved. Check out our events page for upcoming Bike Valet events!
Looking back on last week’s events to promote safe and confident walking and biking to school.
Last week over 600 students across New Orleans took part in activities for Bike Easy’s Walk & Roll to School Week. The week-long event was held at eight schools as the culmination of comprehensive biking and walking safety training for physical education teachers.
Schools participating included:
Alice M. Harte Charter
Dolores T. Aaron Elementary
Edward Hynes Elementary
The International School of Louisiana
Joseph Craig Elementary
Lusher Charter Middle School
Phillis Wheatley Community School
Bike Easy led bike rodeos, pedestrian & bicycle safety assemblies and discussions for students ranging from third to eighth grade. Walk & Roll to School activities encourage students to consider the benefits of walking and biking as a mode of transportation, meanwhile teaching skills for being safe and confident on the road. Schools also took the lead on their own activities to promote biking and walking to school. For example, Schaumberg Elementary students practiced a “walking school bus”, giving students the opportunity to experience what it feels like to walk to school.
Students embraced the opportunity to ride bicycles during the school day and were eager to show off their bike knowledge. Students who had gone through bike and pedestrian safety classes previously, took the lead to help demonstrate skills such as fitting a helmet and using hand signals.
The spirit of Walk & Roll continues this week, with an upcoming safety assembly at Joseph Craig and a bike rodeo for Alice M. Charter School’s Family Bike Night Thursday, October 26th.
Posted by Robert Henig Bell on October 11, 2017 in Advocacy
What we learned bringing a street built to share to the 7th Ward
This summer, residents of the 7th Ward and across New Orleans, along with Bike Easy’s Complete Streets Ambassadors and staff came together to create a pop-up protected bikeway on Saint Bernard Avenue. Working in conjunction with the City of New Orleans, we showcased a different model for making our streets safe and accessible to people biking, walking, driving, and riding transit.
From July 31st through August 18th, people biking on St. Bernard got to experience biking on parking-protected lanes along a major roadway in New Orleans. In a parking-protected design, the area where vehicles park and bikers ride are switched around, so that bikes ride adjacent to the sidewalk. Everyone walking, biking, or driving along St. Bernard during this three week period got to see and think about whether this approach to making our streets safer and more accessible for people of all ages and abilities might work in their neighborhoods.
And it was a success— for the bikers in the neighborhood who told us they felt safer on the protected bikeway, for the local residents who saw and participated in a grassroots improvement project in their neighborhood, and for us at Bike Easy to collaborate with so many partners on a substantial street demonstration project. Commuters were kept safe. Residents and commuters engaged one another about ways to better share our streets.
Biking in the 7th Ward
Every New Orleans resident knows our streets come in all shapes, sizes, and conditions. As the main thoroughfare through the historic 7th Ward neighborhood, St. Bernard Avenue is a busy route for many local bike riders. Situated on the edge of the French Quarter, the 7th Ward is a hot spot for bikers commuting to jobs at hotels, bars, restaurants, and government offices downtown. That’s the reason why the city installed a dedicated bike lane just a few years ago. Still, commuters often complain that biking on St. Bernard can be a high-stress experience, as cars tend to whizz by at high speeds, drive through the bike lanes to pass other cars, and even frequently use it as a parking lane.
For these reasons, we chose the half-mile stretch between North Rampart St and North Claiborne Ave to conduct this test trial. The roadway itself was a good fit, as it’s generally in good condition and because of the bike lanes running in both directions. This made flipping the layout of the parking and bike lanes fairly straightforward, without us having to take away a lane of automobile traffic.
Installing a Pop-Up Bikeway
To be “protected” a bikeway requires more than just a stripe on the ground. A physical barrier of some kind between the car traffic and bike lane is required— rows of planters, delineators, or parked cars, etc. Across the country, these kinds of protected bikeways have proven safer for everyone on the street— bikers, drivers, walkers, and transit riders.
Our approach for this pop-up demonstration utilized a mix of barricades and cones to separate the traffic. Of course, we also had to change the traffic lines indicating the parking and biking lanes, which entailed a lot of temporary paint. Working with the City of New Orleans’ Office of Resilience, we were able to use barricades from the NOPD and cones from the city’s frequent contractor, Traffic Solutions. Much of the preparation for the look and feel of the bikeway was done by volunteers and our Complete Streets Ambassadors, including the design of the street stencils and the motif of the #iBikeNola banners on the barricades located at every intersection along the corridor.
On the weekend of July 29th and 30th, over thirty neighborhood residents and others from all over New Orleans, Bike Easy Ambassadors, and staff came out to install the bikeway. Spirited teamwork was required for everything to come together: from creating the bike stencils, cutting and painting barricade covers, putting up the many dozens of ‘No-Parking’ signs, marking out existing biking and parking lanes, picking up and hauling around the dozens of barricades and cones that protected the bike lanes on each side of the street.
The volunteers did a fantastic job working together, first in the heat and then in the rain. In fact, some of their labor Saturday was lost due to an early afternoon rain shower washed away freshly painted lines. Fortunately, with a little extra effort, the volunteers who came out the next morning were able to finish the half-mile corridor with no extra delays.
The bikeway was officially up and running that Sunday evening. On Tuesday, Bike Easy held a community kickoff event so local residents and commuters could stop by and learn more about the bikeway. They filled out surveys and were able to share their thoughts. Public officials and local media were also invited. Stories highlighting the improvements to traffic safety provided by the bikeway were published by The Advocate, WDSU and WWL.
Initially, Bike Easy and the City of New Orleans agreed for the bikeway to be open and operational for two weeks, from July 31st through August 11th. However, due to the heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding on August 5th, those plans were altered. Because of the shift in city needs, the pop-up was extended for an additional week.
Evaluating the Data
Before getting started with the installation of the bikeway, Bike Easy volunteers walked door to door to survey neighborhood residents and businesses. To understand how successful this demonstration could be, we needed to accurately report local perspectives on biking, commuting, and the everyday experience of travelling this short stretch of St. Bernard Avenue.
What we learned is that the 7th Ward is truly a biking community. In the neighborhood along the corridor, the percentage of households with a working bicycle (72%) was the same as those with a working motor vehicle (72%). More than two-thirds of respondents consider themselves frequent or occasional bike riders (38 of 56). And a full eighty percent of respondents say they would bike even more if better bike lanes were available.
Businesses along the corridor were also surveyed. All of the respondents acknowledged that many of their customers arrive by bike. However, business owners did communicate differing attitudes towards bike traffic, yet a solid majority said the permanent bike lane had positively impacted their business (75%).
Once the bikeway opened, Bike Easy opened an online survey and promoted it through Bike Easy’s website and social media. It remained opened through the end of September.
Initial findings suggest that residents both in the St. Bernard neighborhood as well as throughout the city overwhelmingly support safer, more accessible bike lanes in New Orleans. Many individuals recommended permanent protected bike lanes to further increase safety for people biking. Most participants from both the neighborhood and online surveys often responded that they would bike more if there were better bike lanes available.
Changing the bike infrastructure in New Orleans has the potential to significantly increase residents’ feelings of safety when biking, walking, and even driving on many city streets. Prior to the installation of the temporary bikeway, few New Orleanians felt “safe” or “very safe” biking on St. Bernard Ave (13% of respondents). However, while the pop-up was in effect, feeling “safe” or “very safe” while biking rose to a majority 82%. Feelings of safety when walking and driving increased as well.
The general support of the pop-up bikeway was met with some concerns by residents both in the St. Bernard neighborhood, as well as throughout the city. An issue frequently mentioned was the specifics of the design. Some people worried about individuals exiting vehicles into the bike lane, as well as the difficulty of making certain turns when biking.
When asked what form of bike infrastructure they would like to see in New Orleans, the top three forms residents chose were one-way protected lanes, two-way protected lanes, and off-street bike lanes. Such responses suggest that there is true public support for protected bike lanes in the city.
More data is needed to better understand the potential impact future bikeway installations may have on New Orleans residents. That said, there remains a need for more protected bike lanes in the city, evidenced by the responses to survey questions.
New Orleans has made great strides for biking safety in recent years. We now consistently rank in the top ten of American cities with highest portion of people commuting by bicycle, coming in at #6 this year. These dedicated bike lanes constitute real progress. But our number of crashes remains too high. Bike Easy believes that to reduce those crashes, New Orleans should begin the work of creating a network of protected bikeways that decreases the vulnerability of people biking, whether it be to work or visiting a friend across town. The specific designs for such protected bikeways might differ greatly from the design deployed this summer on St. Bernard Avenue. That’s fine. The larger point remains: reductions in serious crashes come from either reduced speed limits or separated spaces for people biking and people driving to travel.
That’s why a network of protected bikeways is a key component in Bike Easy’s push for more streets built to share for every part of greater New Orleans. Safe, accessible, protected routes should run through and connect all of our major neighborhoods — Uptown, Mid-City, Algiers, Lakeview, Gentilly, the 9th Ward, New Orleans East, as well as communities in Jefferson and St. Bernard Parishes.
Over the upcoming months, Bike Easy is looking to pursue more opportunities to demonstrate streets built to share in other parts of the city. One approach we’re taking is to help foster the creation of neighborhood biking and walking committees across Greater New Orleans, beginning with our own neighborhood: Central City. Across New Orleans, we’ll be enlisting local residents, you and your neighbors, to be the spokespeople for your neighborhood. From the ideas for improvement that you all would like to see, we can use the ‘Saint Bernard Avenue Pop-Up Protected Bikeway’ as a model for the improvements you would like to see in your neighborhood to ensure safe, accessible streets built to share for everyone in the community.