Word on the Street

A blog about bikes and the Big Easy

2017 Bike Easy Challenge - New Rider’s Perspective

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.”

Bike Easy Safety Programs - April Recap

Posted by Virginia Brisley on May 12, 2017 in Bicycle Safety

Spring bike safety activities with Bike Easy

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.

#WhyIBikeNola - Uganda the Conga

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.”

Biking to Work 2017

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!

Looking forward to Bike to Work Day 2018!

Ambassador’s Story - Guenevere Hoy

Posted by Robert Henig Bell on April 20, 2017 in Advocacy

This spring, a new group of local residents have signed up as Bike Easy Ambassadors, working to ensure New Orleans streets are built to share.

My name is Guenevere Hoy, I live in Mid-City and work in the CBD for a public health organization. I’ve lived in New Orleans for eight years and when I came here from Seattle I had to purchase a car to get to work on the Westbank. Now that I work closer to home I have started commuting to work by bicycle a few times a week. I’ve also started biking more to meet friends or run errands. There’s something really freeing and nice about being out in the air and getting around from the power of your own two legs!

I have several friends who say they would never bike in New Orleans because they think it’s too dangerous and they have a point. There’s a lot of education needed for both people who bike and people who drive. As someone who does both I wanted to do something to help people feel safe and know how to share the streets. I signed up to be a Complete Streets Ambassador with Bike Easy so that I can be a resource to my friends and community about safe, accessible streets for people of all abilities and all ages. Having streets that are built to share goes a long way in changing people’s behavior about who should be using the streets. If streets are built to look like a highway that is only meant for cars to go as quickly as possible from point A to point B, then you’d expect no one to be walking or biking on those streets. But if streets are built to accommodate different modes of getting around safely, with everyone having access then you’d expect more walkers, bus riders, bikers and drivers on those streets.

These are the kind of streets I want in my neighborhood, because these kinds of streets lead to better health, better economic opportunities and better quality of life. The city has come so far from where it was when I moved here in terms of promoting and protecting bikers, but more needs to be done to connect the short stretches of bike lanes that end abruptly and make it difficult for both people who bike and people who drive to know what to do next! I love that more and more bike lanes continue to appear on streets around me but I want to make sure that everyone can enjoy the benefits and freedom of choosing a low-cost and healthy way to get around, whether they’re biking, walking or taking the streetcar and from any neighborhood in New Orleans.

Calling All Bike Easy Challenge Champions

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!

Bike Easy Challenge Poster

Bike Easy Challenge Fact Sheet

Bike to Work Day, April 12

Weekend of Training for the new Complete Streets Ambassadors

Posted by Robert Henig Bell on March 23, 2017 in Advocacy

Say hello to the newest advocates for safe, accessible biking and walking in New Orleans!

This past weekend, Bike Easy hosted a training for our new Complete Streets Ambassadors! These folks have taken on a leadership role over the next three months to promote walking, biking, public transit, and to bring streets built to share to every neighborhood in New Orleans. They’ll be working, both together and individually, to educate and to demonstrate how increased access to biking and walking will lead to healthier, more equitable outcomes for the entire community.

This Ambassador’s training included a focus on the power of sharing our stories, an introduction to ‘Complete Streets’ policy, the current state of play for biking infrastructure here in New Orleans, and guest lectures from Matt Hendrickson from Ride New Orleans on organizing community meetings, as well as Lynne Sherpe showcasing the art of petitioning. Onika Jervis from Girl Trek lead a walking audit of the local neighborhood. Together, the Ambassadors planned and executed a small-scale demonstration project showing how a local intersection could be made safer (and better looking) when made accessible to disabled residents, easier for people crossing the street, slower for cars making a turn, and of course safer for all passing bike riders.

Over the next three months, Angela Chalk, Kir Selert, Alex Souvignier, Domonique Raines, Dylan Blaskey, Guenevere Hoy, Derek Wilson, Andrea Portales, Ryan Hooks, and Jack Greenwood will be speaking out on the need to make streets built to share accessible to every resident in every neighborhood of New Orleans. They’ll speak to neighborhood associations, faith organizations, and to youth programs. They’ll work together on a large project showcasing the practical benefits gained if complete streets were to be fully realized here in New Orleans. They’ll get creative about building support for better, safer biking in their own and each other’s respective communities.

We’re thrilled to have such a great team of advocates working to push us all forward!

New Orleans Bike Share Community Meetings

Posted by Dan Favre on March 23, 2017 in Advocacy

Come give your input on bike share hub locations

The City of New Orleans and Social Bicycles are holding a series of six community meetings to gather input on the coming New Orleans bike share system! The full list of meetings is below and available here.

Bike Easy has long been a proponent of bike share as a powerful addition to public transportation, and now it’s time to get the details right. To make sure New Orleans bike share puts residents first and is accessible to all people for our city, we’re encouraging everyone to come out and give your feedback on where bike share stations should be located in your neighborhood.

Bike share works best when stations are densely located within 3-4 blocks of one another. They should be located where they are easy to see, clearly link to buses and streetcars, take advantage of existing and planned bikeways, and fit on already existing sidewalk or street space.

Then, of course, there are only the things that you’d know about your neighborhood – the way water pools up on that one corner whenever it rains, the intersection that never seems to have car traffic, or the corner where people are often waiting for late buses and could use a bike to get to work.

There will be small group facilitated discussions to give specific feedback on proposed bike share station locations. Come share your unique and valuable knowledge to help create a sustainable and equitable New Orleans bike share system.

All of the following meetings start at 6:30pm:

  • Monday, March 27 – Marigny/Bywater/St. Roch – Stalling St Claude Rec Center, 4300 St. Claude Ave
  • Wednesday, March 29 – Treme / 7th Ward – Corpus Christi-Epiphany Community Resource Center Cafeteria, 2022 St. Bernard Avenue
  • Monday, April 3 – Mid-City / Bayou St. John – First Grace United Methodist Church, 3401 Canal St
  • Wednesday, April 5 – Central City / LGD – New Orleans Jazz Market, 1436 OC Haley Blvd.
  • Monday, April 10 – Downtown – Hyatt Regency, 601 Loyola Ave, 4th Floor, Imperial Ballroom 5
  • Tuesday, April 11 – French Quarter. Historic New Orleans Collection Williams Research Library Auditorium, 410 Chartres St.

In late April, there will also be the opportunity to vote online. You can keep an eye on any updates at the the City’s website for bike share, http://www.nola.gov/bikeshare, and we’ll make sure to keep you in the loop.

Bike Share Community Meeting Flier

Tour de Fat Is Coming to New Orleans

Posted by Dan Favre on March 21, 2017 in Events

The famed New Belgium Brewing celebration of bikes and beer will benefit Bike Easy

New Belgium Brewing’s classic beer-fueled bike benefit & circus party, “Fat Tire presents Tour de Fat”, is coming to New Orleans for the first time ever!

New Belgium is bringing the party with Corey Harper and the Tour de Fat ensemble cast of performers. Ready your eyes and ears for a mix of musicians, circus performers, vaudeville acts, magicians, comedians, and mind-blowing provocateurs. Costumes are highly encouraged (and a mindset to party is mandatory). Proceeds from the New Orleans Tour de Fat benefit Bike Easy, so be sure to get your tickets today.

Fat Tire presents Tour de Fat in New Orleans
Music by Corey Harper
Proceeds benefit Bike Easy
Sunday, June 11th from 7pm to 11pm
The Joy Theater, 1200 Canal Street

Interested in volunteering to help make the event possible? You’ll get free admission and swag. Send an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to claim a volunteer spot now.

Launched in 2000, Tour de Fat is New Belgium’s philanthropic festival of bikes, beer and fun. Proceeds from the Tour benefit cycling and environmental non-profits across the country. In 2017 Tour de Fat is expanding to 33 cities across the U.S. Shows will run from May 20 in Asheville, NC thru October 7 in Tempe AZ. Tour de Fat is expected to generate more than $600,000 for NPO partners in 2017 and will eclipse the $5 million mark for funds raised since its beginning.

More information at https://www.newbelgium.com/events/tour-de-fat

We’re Hiring!!

Posted by Dan Favre on February 22, 2017 in Advocacy, Bike-Friendly Businesses

Bike Easy is looking to fill 2 exciting positions to help make bicycling easy, safe, and fun!

Bike Easy is currently looking to fill 2 positions!

Campaign Organizer – Jefferson Parish
Bike Easy is dedicated to making bicycling in the Greater New Orleans area easy, safe, and fun for everyone. Better bicycling can improve our community through positive impacts on economic development, public health, environmental health, and social equity. Bike Easy is especially interested in creating more opportunities for physical activity as a way to improve health outcomes for children, particularly in low-income communities and communities of color that have long experienced health disparities.

Complete Streets is a policy approach that ensures streets are designed and operated to accommodate all people, no matter who they are, where they live, or how they travel. We’re looking for a full-time, dedicated, enthusiastic leader rooted in Jefferson Parish to help build the base of public support in Jefferson Parish for streets that are safe and built to share for people of all ages and abilities, whether they are walking, biking, driving, or taking transit! More information and application instructions here.

Bike Parking Coordinator
One important way to help encourage more people to ride bikes is to make sure they’ve got a good, secure place to park and lock their bike upon reaching their destination. This part-time, hourly position will focus on various aspects of bike parking, especially our popular Bicycle Valet Program.

Bicycle Valet by Bike Easy provides a free VIP experience to all guests arriving by bicycle to a festival or event. It encourages more people to enjoy the benefits of riding bikes to the incredible local festivals, fairs, and events that occur so often in the Greater New Orleans region. For event organizers, it’s a great way to support the New Orleans bicycle culture while creating a better event experience for all attendees. See current list of events below.

Through our participation in the Dero Advocacy Dealer Program, Bike Easy works with businesses, developers, and others to implement bike parking solutions. We help people navigate New Orleans’ bike parking standards and permits, conduct free site visits, recommend quality Dero bike racks, and support clients’ through the purchasing process. All bike parking sales benefit Bike Easy’s bike advocacy efforts. More information and application instructions here.

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