Word on the Street

A blog about bikes and the Big Easy

Mardi Gras Bike Safety

Posted by Katie Hunter-Lowrey on January 14, 2020 in Bicycle Safety , Education

Get on your bike and ride!

Krewe du Vieux will be here February 8th and it won’t be long until we are fully immersed in Mardi Gras activities. As people and floats squeeze cars out of their usual routes, biking becomes the supreme choice for getting around. All the bikes out and about get our bicycle advocate hearts fluttering. We know that more bikes on the road increases visibility of people on bike and promotes the need for better bike networks. Use the Bike Map to help find the best routes for every parade.

Keep these six safety tips in mind as you enjoy Mardi Gras on bike:

1. Look for Hazards
During Mardi Gras beadss and hazards abound. Watch for items that could puncture your tires, get caught in wheel spokes, or damage your chain. While riding a bike, keep in mind that beads around your neck are dangerous while your riding.

2. Be Prepared
If you do happen to hit a hazard that causes a flat tire, be prepared. Carry a patch kit and a hand pump so that you can get back to parade watching.

3. Lock up Strategically and be courteous
Make sure to lock your bike to a rack or secure street sign and out of the pedestrian pathway. Best practice is to park off the parade street and avoid having your bike become a ladder.

4. Don’t Bike Through Crowds
Much like Royal Street is a pedestrian throughway on the weekends, parades are not suitable for biking through. Dismounting is much safer, and others will thank you.

5. Bike Safely

  • Wear a helmet – fix your headpiece or wig once you’ve arrived at your destination.
  • When crossing streetcar tracks, cross at a 90-degree angle to avoid getting caught in the tracks.
  • If you bike, drink responsibly and know your limits. Call a ride, walk, or take transit if you need.
  • Use front and rear lights to retain visibility at night.
  • Ride with traffic, not against, and abide by traffic lights and signs.

6. Try a Blue Bike!
You don’t have to own a bike to use one on Mardi Gras. Blue Bikes New Orleans is a bike share system that is perfect for short trips. For $8 an hour (prorated by the minute) you can hop between friends houses and parade routes. This is also a great option if you don’t want to leave your bike unattended for an extended period. Simply unlock a bike, ride to your destination, relock, and have zero worries.

Biking during Mardi Gras is a no-brainer. You’ll get where you need to go faster and in style. Be courteous, stay safe, and have fun!

Apple School Bus Drivers Trained in People Friendly Driving

Posted by Laura Harris on January 12, 2020 in Education

Bike Easy taught safe driving tips and techniques to 181 school bus drivers.

This December, Bike Easy partnered with the Apple School Bus Company to deliver our People Friendly Driving class to New Orleans’ school bus drivers.

181 bus drivers received education geared towards motorists on safe driving behaviors around people who are walking or biking. The course teaches drivers about common crashes and how to avoid them, safety tips and techniques, and how to navigate bicycle infrastructure on the roadways.

Instructor Keith Holt leads a People Friendly Driving Class at Apple Bus Company.

Check out our Guide to People Friendly Driving to learn more about keeping all people safe on our streets.

New Orleans Complete Streets Coalition Issues Statement

Posted by Katie Hunter-Lowrey on January 10, 2020 in Advocacy, Bicycle Safety

Regarding the fatal hit-and-run car crash that killed a bicyclist on Canal St. Thursday evening:

Bike Easy Executive Director and New Orleans Complete Streets Coalition Executive Committee Member Dan Favre has issued the following statement on behalf of the Coalition regarding the fatal hit-and-run car crash that killed a bicyclist on Canal St. Thursday evening:

“With the devastating news of a person killed while biking in Mid-City by a driver who fled the scene, we are again sending condolences to the loved ones of someone whose life has been senselessly cut short. Just a few weeks ago, it was a person walking who was struck and killed at N. Claiborne and Elysian Fields Avenues.

These heartbreaking incidents remind us all of the intense urgency to build the physical infrastructure and cultural norms that enable everyone to travel safely. We need streets designed to ensure the safety of everyone using them – people biking, driving, walking, or stepping off a bus or streetcar.

Nearly 20% of New Orleans households don’t have access to a motor vehicle, and many others choose to walk, bike, or take transit for health, affordability, lifestyle, or other reasons. Every resident and every family deserves as many safe transportation options as possible – to get to work, school, the store, a friend’s house, or wherever they are going.

It’s more important than ever that our city, regional, and state governments, along with the entire community, work together to build safe and accessible streets for everyone.”

Learn more about how you can help make New Orleans’ street safer for everyone at nolacompletestreets.org.


Media Contact:
Dan Favre
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Destinie Hammond
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About The New Orleans Complete Streets Coalition
The New Orleans Complete Streets Coalition is a group of organizations, businesses, civic leaders and community members who support improving our roadways and safe transportation options in order to enhance health, equity, sustainability, prosperity and quality of life for the people of New Orleans. Learn more at nolacompletestreets.org.

BYOBikes’ Celebration of the Spokes Donates 120 Bikes to Kids

Posted by Laura Harris on January 1, 2020 in Bicycle Safety , Education

This new non-profit aims to donate 450+ bikes to at-risk and underprivileged kids in the Greater New Orleans Area

Bike Easy teamed up with the new BYOBikes organization for their inaugural Celebration of the Spokes event, held December 15th at City Park’s Arbor Room. The event was a great success, with 120 youth bikes donated along with helmets, locks, and bike lights.

Bike Easy’s education team was on the ground ensuring that each kid taking home a bike also participated in a bike safety course – learning proper bike and helmet fit, bike handling basics as well of the rules of the road.

BYOBikes, a new New Orleans non-profit 501c3 organization that delivers bicycles to at-risk youth in the local community, believes “every kid deserves a bike.” They aim to raise funds through annual events and corporate bike builds with the mission to build a stronger, safer community by spreading joy with the gift of a bike. For more info check out http://www.byobikes.org

Bikes of all styles and sizes were donated to kids from toddlers to teens.

Allene La Spina, Bike Easy Program and Operations manager, leading a bike safety course in Spanish.

Django Szilagi, Safe Routes to School Coordinator with the New Orleans Health Department, helps unpack helmets.

Santa helped, too!

Stay tuned for more collaborations between Bike Easy and BYOBikes!

Take action for better biking today!

Posted by Katie Hunter-Lowrey on December 28, 2019 in Advocacy, Bicycle Safety , Education, Events, Membership

Next year will be one of the most important in recent history for better bicycling.

Thanks to all of you who were able to make it out to the Bike Easy Annual Membership Meeting and Party! We came together to celebrate the successes of 2019, reflect on the struggles, and look forward to exciting progress our collective movement is working towards in 2020. Volunteers and advocates were honored, Members gave input on the next Bike Easy Strategic Plan, and a panel of Bike Easy Board Members and Staff answered questions from Members. Laurenia at the Pythian Market provided a great space for Members to mingle, share stories with Staff and Board Members, and stop by the photo booth to share why Bike Easy membership is so important.

Next year will be one of the most important in recent history for better bicycling. Will you join us as a Bike Easy member?

At the event last week, I was honored to share my memories of the most notable moments of 2019 and Bike Easy’s vision for progress in 2020. This year had incredible highs – the hundreds of people who came out to participate to help craft the Moving New Orleans Bikeway Blueprint for the City of New Orleans, the biggest Bike Easy Challenge yet, and so much more. We also experienced the intense lows of mourning too many people lost and injured.

Looking to the future, things are bright for bicycling and alternative transportation in Greater New Orleans! The City of New Orleans is working towards an unprecedented rapid expansion of the low-stress bikeway network. The first on-street protected bike lanes will be built in Jefferson Parish, and the Mississippi River Trail will be extended in St. Bernard Parish. We’re launching the Bike Easy Certified program to help more businesses and organizations become bike-friendly. Bike Easy’s education team will continue expanding our People-Friendly Driving workshops and helping 4th graders to grandparents feel confident on their bikes.

All of this work is made possible by our Bike Easy Members! Can you make a special year-end donation further support our work?

Our success also comes from the vast number of partnerships and collaborations and the many, many people who work together to improve safety and accessibility throughout the region. At the Membership Meeting and Party this year, we were excited to honor people who have made tremendous contributions to Bike Easy, bicycling, and mobility.

Check out this blog post to learn more about all of this year’s award winners – Jennifer Ruley, Odyssey House Louisiana, Sophie Harris Vorhoff, Nellie Catzen, and John Caulkins. Congratulations to all the Bike Easy Award Winners!

Bike Easy members are the lifeblood of our organization. It is the membership that allows Bike Easy to speak in a voice that reflects the bicycling needs of New Orleans and provides the support to further the mission of making bicycling fun, safe and easy for everyone in Greater New Orleans. Members are fueling the movement for streets that are safe and accessible for everyone. They are the biggest source of political and financial support for Bike Easy. Please become a member or make a donation today!

Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay up-to-date!

The Bike Easy Awards

Posted by Dan Favre on December 18, 2019 in Advocacy, Bicycle Safety , Bike-Friendly Businesses, Education, Events, Membership

Congratulations to the 2019 award winners!

Every year, Bike Easy honors a handful of individuals and organizations who have gone above and beyond in supporting the organization and the larger movement for safe and accessible mobility options. This year at our Annual Membership Meeting and Party, we were thrilled to bestow the Bike Easy Award, a Volunteer of the Year Award, two Peter Duffy Bennett Advocate of the Year Awards, and a Community Partner Award.

Bike Easy Award

The Bike Easy Award is our marquis honor, and it is given to recognize an individual or organization who has made a tremendous contribution to the work of making bicycling easy, safe, and fun for everyone in Greater New Orleans. The 2019 Bike Easy Award winner is Jennifer Ruley, Senior Project Manager at the Department of Public Works for the City of New Orleans. Jennifer has worked to improve bicycling in New Orleans for over 15 years, and 2019 was a banner year for her achievements – Jennifer lead the process of creating the Moving New Orleans Bikeway Blueprint for the City of New Orleans, she has been quietly working hard to manage design and construction of the rapid bikeway network expansion, and she participates and leads in all things biking (i.e. the Bike Easy Challenge) at City Hall. We’re excited about the progress we’ll see in the coming year, and much of that is thanks to Jennifer’s tireless, and often invisible to the public, efforts. Congratulations!

Peter Duffy Bennett Advocate of the Year

This award is presented to an individual or organization who displayed advocacy leadership – in policy and politics – to ensure that decision-makers are doing what is needed to ensure everyone has safe and accessible transportation options. This year, we have decided to recognize two people who have vocally and effectively pushed for better bikeways and policies despite overwhelming personal impacts – both of the honorees were injured in the Esplanade Mardi Gras crash and lost dear friends. Both Nellie Catzen and Sophie Harris Vorhoff have drawn on that personal experience to speak up publicly and powerfully in support of a connected and protected bikeway network. It’s incredibly impressive. Sophie and Nellie have been long-time collaborators in their professional roles at Friends of Lafitte Greenway, but this award goes to them as individuals who have faced incredible adversity with courage and grace and used their voice to improve the lives of others, even as their own have been deeply and irrevocably impacted. With love and gratitude, everyone at Bike Easy is honored to work with them.

Community Partner Award

The Community Partner Award goes to an organization that has provided significant support and partnership to Bike Easy. We have worked for years with this year’s award winner, and they continue to increase their commitment to better biking while serving some of our region’s most vulnerable people. Odyssey House Louisiana, which provides health care and addiction treatment services, has sponsored the Bicycle Second Line, partnered with Bike Easy on the Blue Bikes for All program to distribute reduced fare bike share passes, contracted with us for Bike Valet at their annual Bike & Brunch fundraiser, and are developing plans for further incorporating biking and bike repair into their client programming!

Volunteer of the Year Award

As the name suggests, the Volunteer of the Year Award goes to someone who donates a significant amount of their time to furthering the mission of Bike Easy. This year’s award goes to John Caulkins, for the many hours dedicated to Bike Valet, other Bike Easy programs, and the many other great organizations where he volunteers!

Staff Retreat

Posted by Katie Hunter-Lowrey on December 16, 2019 in Bicycle Safety

Bike Easy goes North!

Last week the Bike Easy staff went on retreat for some team building and year ahead planning. It was only my second week of work with the organization, but right away felt so welcomed by everyone and really fired up about the work. Thanks to the generosity of a former board member, we had lots of space at a camp in Lacombe to spread out programming materials, stations for group activities, and many many snacks. The theme of the two day trip was cohesion. Through the thoughtful visioning exercises to get us to go deeper into our values, think big picture about our calendars, and really connect as teammates with the same goals, I really felt the group and the ideas coming together.

It can be difficult in any type of work to take a step back and really appreciate how far you’ve come while gearing up to take the mission even further. I have always felt that Bike Easy is an organization that uses a range of creative approaches to promote safer and better biking in New Orleans. On the retreat, I got to see the thoughtfulness that goes into all those approaches, whether it was David mapping out all the different bike valet opportunities throughout the year or Laura dreaming big about starting a Bike Clubs for little kids through their schools. 2020 is going to be a time of big changes to the infrastructure of Greater New Orleans as more protected bike lanes are built and roadways are reconfigured to make biking, walking, and driving less stressful for everyone using the streets. As a looong time cyclist I feel so excited to be a part of this work and with such a dedicated group of people.

The best part of the time on the North Shore was the mandatory fun on Wednesday morning: a lovely, relaxed group bike ride on the Tammany Trace. Rolling along on a paved, protected, 31 miles of bike trail through the woods, I found myself reflecting on how far New Orleans has come with its bike lanes, thinking back to the years before there were stripes on St. Claude Ave., Broad Street, or Esplanade Ave. Since then, Bike Easy has shown a commitment to its members, a focus on equity, and taken innovative steps to further its mission- and the region is much better for it. After this retreat I feel more ready than ever to put those values into action with my new team and the passionate members of the New Orleans biking community.

Celebrating a complete street on Marconi Drive!

Posted by Dan Favre on December 8, 2019 in Bicycle Safety

The ride from a project idea to a ribbon cutting

On Friday, I had my first experience riding on the new & improved stretch of Marconi Dr / Orleans Ave that runs along City Park and Delgado Community College. It was glorious! The protected bike lanes, green paint highlighting the bike lane at intersections, and smooth road surface all felt safe and comfortable.

Even better, I was on my way to the ribbon-cutting for this great project that exemplifies what we mean when we say “complete streets”. Along with the protected bike lanes, there are improved sidewalks and pedestrian crossings, better bus stops, traffic calming strategies, and the whole street was repaved. This feeling of safety and accessibility is what people should be experiencing when heading to the park or to school, no matter how they’re traveling.

At the press conference, it became clear just how much this is the right approach for the location. The Chancellor of Delgado spoke of the over 10,000 students each semester who come to that campus, and all the various means of transportation that they use. The CEO of City Park discussed safe accessibility to this huge greenspace that is enjoyed in so many different ways. .

Even beyond this particular spot, the complete streets approach just makes sense in general. As I was chatting with Secretary Shawn Wilson from the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, he shared his excitement to use this incredible project as an example in other communities around the state that are looking to understand how to promote alternative transportation options.

Complete streets are built to benefit all people, whether you’re driving, walking, biking, taking the bus, or rolling in a wheelchair. Everyone can have peace on the road when we’ve all got a piece of the road. Good bike infrastructure makes things safer for everyone, including people driving. Good bike infrastructure gets people riding to follow the rules and makes things more enjoyable for everyone. Improving alternative transportation options, including bicycling and transit, will help reduce congestion and parking demand. The benefits go on and on!

Despite all these proven benefits there are, as Mayor Cantrell pointed out during the press conference, some naysayers for projects like these. I certainly understand that changes can be uncomfortable, especially when there are periods of construction, tradeoffs and major reorganizations of the roadway. However, as we’ve seen time and again, when these projects are done correctly, the temporary discomfort goes away once people get used to the new arrangement and the end result is even more comfortable, safe, and livable streets for everyone.

The New Orleans Complete Streets Coalition and supportive neighbors worked hard to highlight the widespread benefits of the Marconi project in the face of sometimes nasty, yet misguided, opposition. As Rica Trigs, Community Advocacy Director for the American Heart Association, spoke on behalf of the Coalition at the press conference, the Mayor and others made it clear that they appreciated that work. And there was quite a crowd of Coalition members and community supporters at the ribbon-cutting!

I’m grateful that the Mayor and other decision-makers maintained their resolve for implementing a vision that prioritizes safety and accessibility for everyone on Marconi, and I look forward to working hard to engage the community and build support for many more projects!

One of the most exciting parts of the Marconi project is how it fits into the City’s overall Moving New Orleans Bikes comprehensive vision for a comprehensive of low-stress, connected networks. Soon, construction will start on a bike path that runs through City Park and connects directly to the new two-way cycle track on Marconi. That all plays into the rapid expansion of the low-stress bikeway network that will connect neighborhoods throughout the city.

The future of biking in New Orleans is bright!

Bike Valet Adventure

Posted by Katie Hunter-Lowrey on December 7, 2019 in Events

Local and national connections made at the Treme Gumbo Festival

One of my favorite parts of working for Bike Easy as the Program and Operations Manager is the opportunity it gives me to be part of all of our programming. A few weeks ago, we had two Bike Valet events happening at the same time. While David, our Community Programs Coordinator, was working Odyssey’s House Bike and Brunch I set up Bike Valet for the Treme Creole Gumbo Festival at the entrance of Louis Armstrong Park. Part of my job was to set up the tent and table with all of our outreach materials with the help of the amazing group of volunteers that continuously and generously give their time to help us out. The main goal of offering Bike Valet is to make sure that bikes are kept safe. It also gives us a great excuse to interact directly with cyclists in New Orleans.

The best interaction I had that day was with a gentleman visiting from New Mexico who was also part of the bike coalition out there. When I told him about our People Friendly Driving class that we have taught to ride-share drivers, he got really excited and took a brochure to share with his peers back home. That kind of impact is only possible when you’re in the right place at the right time! Participating actively in our programming gave me that opportunity.

Stay tuned for more Bike Easy adventures!

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