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.
Posted by Dan Favre on October 10, 2017 in Membership
Help making biking better by guiding and building our organization
CALLFORBOARDMEMBERS: 2018-2020 Term
Founded in 2003, Bike Easy (formerly the Metro Bicycle Coalition) is a small nonprofit based in New Orleans. We are a fast growing, grassroots organization hard at work making sure that riding a bike here is easy, safe, and fun for everyone.
Bike Easy is a volunteer-driven organization guided by a board of directors and energized by the participation of our ever-growing community of members. Through hands-on outreach, advocacy before government agencies and collaboration with diverse local organizations we’re helping to make bicycling an integral part of New Orleans life.
We advocate for bikable and walkable neighborhoods, produce community events like Bicycle Second Lines and host Bike Valet to engage diverse audiences and encourage bicycle riders, new and experienced. We also empower community advocates and foster confident bicycling through our education programs.
During your 3-year tenure the organization has big plans to:
Increase our membership and revenue, building a sustainable organization
As a rapidly growing organization we need your expertise and support. You’ll be working with our Executive Director and the rest of our active board, to help shape the next 20 years of this dynamic and innovative nonprofit.
In order to join our team, we ask that you are willing to work as a team and share ideas openly. Additionally, we seek candidates with any of the following attributes:
Networking and connections within the community, especially in low-wealth and communities of color that have traditionally been left out of transportation planning and advocacy
Ability and desire to be part of our fundraising and development strategy, including seeking sponsorships and other sources of general operations/unrestricted funding
Public engagement, fundraising, finance/accounting, political strategy, human resource and/or management experience
Bike Easy is committed to improving the diversity of the bicycle movement and building greater social equity through our work, and we are looking for board members representing a broad range of backgrounds and communities across the New Orleans region. We encourage all interested persons to apply for this position regardless of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, sex, age, or political affiliation.
Availability: Our 11 board members serve on rotating terms. This three-year appointment begins January 1, 2018.
Commitment Details: Includes about 10 hours per month on tasks such as attending monthly board meetings, participation on a committee or taskforce, fundraising responsibilities, bringing your networking resources and becoming a champion of our shared cause.
Benefits: We are an all-volunteer board. Give back to the community while gaining excellent experience working hand-in-hand with like-minded folks. Become familiar with current urban planning issues in Greater New Orleans and network with local civic leaders.
Applications are due Monday, October 23 at 5 P.M. To apply for this position, please submit resume or equivalent and a short intro letter to email@example.com.
Please Share! Do you know somebody who would be a good candidate? Send them this announcement. We are looking for board members representing a broad range of backgrounds and communities across the New Orleans region.
Training Physical Ed Teachers to teach Bike and Walk Safety in their P.E. classes.
Walk and Roll to school week is the culmination of Bike Easy’s comprehensive biking and walking safety training program for ten schools as part of the City of New Orleans’ Crescent City Crossing program.
Bike Easy is conducting “train the teacher” training for Physical Education teachers in the following schools:
Alice M. Harte Charter
Benjamin Franklin Elementary
Dolores T Aaron Elementary
Edward Hynes Elementary
International School of Louisiana
Joseph Craig Elementary
Lusher Charter Middle/high
McDonogh 32 Literacy Charter
Phillis Wheatley Community School
The training started off with an all-day training with the PE Teachers, where we taught a modified version of Traffic Safety 101 bike safety class along with lessons on pedestrian safety. The goal of this training is to share the Bike & Walking Safety curriculum with PE Teachers. After completion of the training the teachers will then be able to teach their students and incorporate biking in their PE classes.
After the all-day teacher training Bike Easy assisted each teacher with leading bike and walking safety instruction at their school. Students at each of the ten schools received on and off bike instruction during their PE class.
During Walk and Roll to School Week each school in the program will create their own bike or pedestrian activities during the week of Oct. 16th thru 20th.
Lastly the community is invited along with the 10 schools to participate in the Walk and Roll New Orleans Family Bike Ride on Saturday Oct. 21st from Noon to 2p in City Park. This family friendly bike ride will be an hour bike ride through and around City Park.
Walk Bike Places is an international conference that connects people who are working to create engaging places that are walkable and bike-friendly. In addition to presentations and panel discussions, the conference offers attendees “mobile workshops” – opportunities to experience the host city outside of hotel walls while highlighting local initiatives that advance the values of connectivity, access, engagement, equity, and resilience.
The local host committee, which includes professionals and citizen advocates working in a wide range of sectors, is excited to share the work of local individuals and groups who are making our city a better place to live, work, and gather. If you’re working on a project or initiative to improve walking, biking, or placemaking in the New Orleans Region, we’d like to hear about it!
We want to highlight community-based projects, initiatives, and processes that address one or more of the themes below. Efforts may range from established programs to start-ups, from temporary interventions to permanent infrastructure improvements.
Placemaking & Placekeeping
Music, Art, and Culture
Transit Access and Connectivity
Innovative Community Engagement Processes
Active Transportation and Health
Urban Farming/Community Gardening
Social Engagement and Transportation
Helping Neighbors Get Around
Overcoming Physical Barriers
Places of Worship + Placemaking in our Communities
Innovative Infrastructure Projects
The local host committee is looking to highlight exciting local projects in two ways:
The conference features mobile workshops that will tour our guests throughout the Greater New Orleans Region to showcase our achievements to conference goers and mobility/transportation professionals. Some examples of potential mobile workshops include:
Downtown Public Spaces and Place. Explore downtown public and private spaces — including popular gathering areas, hidden gems, and once-proposed spaces that could have been. This tour will start at Piazza d’Italia and follow a route past some of the city’s iconic civic spaces, squares and greenspaces in the city’s downtown core. The tour will explore the history of their development, give participants a chance to debate the strengths and weaknesses of the space, and look at the role of public gathering in the context of a growing city.
Public Art in Transit. Art and transit combined, provide a powerful placemaking tool that can contribute positively to rider experience, the transit facility environment, and to surrounding communities. Well conceptualized and executed art has the potential to captivate and please riders on their daily commutes for years and become symbols of surrounding neighborhoods. This workshop is intended for anyone who would like to know more about art on transit, as well as anyone with an interest in placemaking projects in partnership with other organizations.
Mobile Food Tour of New Orleans. New Orleans is internationally renowned for its cuisine and food culture. How do our local food traditions contribute to the spirit of our city, while helping to create a unique sense of place? This bike tour will take participants to five local establishments, where they will hear from owners, chefs, gardeners, and organizers about the intersection of food and place.
The above workshops are ideas only, so if your idea aligns with the above, please submit!
In addition, the conference offers opportunities to support local initiatives through volunteer hours, labor, technical assistance and/or peer problem solving. The conference will bring over 1500 attendees from around the world together in New Orleans to focus on making better places. If your project could use extra hands, thought partners or technical assistance, we want to hear from you!
Both of these opportunities will highlight our local transit, bicycle, pedestrian facilities and unique places, while providing the opportunity to learn from others’ experiences and to improve on our achievements. The workshops and work sessions are usually about three hours long and can include speakers, panel discussions, or more casual question and answer sessions.
Why kids should be walking and bicycling to school in preparation for Walk & Roll to School Week.
With the support of Safe Routes to School Programs, we work to get more students walking and biking to school through educational events.
Walk & Roll to School Week is a weeklong effort that teaches children how to safely enjoy the health benefits of walking and biking. An example of activities during the week include “Walking School Buses” where students and families meet at a park and walk to school as a group. In honor of upcoming Walk & Roll to School Week, October 16-21, here are three reasons to get kids to school by bike or foot.
1. Health Benefits
We all know the importance of physical activity and the related health benefits, but that doesn’t mean we always make time for it. Walking and biking are leisurely activities that are still beneficial in short increments. Introducing children to the benefits of exercise as a means of transportation can instill lifelong healthy habits.
Children who walk or bike to school are at more of an advantage than if they arrived by vehicle. Consistent exercise helps to build and maintain bones and muscles while reducing the risk of disease and promoting mental well-being. In an Avena Study Group aimed at assessing the connection between physical activity and cognitive function in children they found, “physical activity improves cerebral blood flow, general circulation, mood, concentration, memory, and classroom behavior.”
2. Environmental Impact
Skipping a trip to school in the car benefits more than just individuals. In addition to health benefits, walking and biking have a significant impact on the environment. Less time spent in cars reduces auto emissions and creates cleaner air around schools. For children with asthma, this can make a huge difference.
When more kids walk and bike to school, there is also a dramatic reduction in traffic. With fewer cars trying to get in and out of a school drop-off zone, streets become safer and more manageable.
3. A New Perspective
A benefit of walking and biking to school not to overlook is the independence it can nurture in a child. Walking gives kids a sense of the neighborhood and a chance to interact with other people. It’s a safe opportunity to make independent decisions.
Another perspective children gain from walking in their neighborhoods is the point of view of being a pedestrian. The more time you spend outside of the car, the more you are aware of others as a driver. Kids who grow up with this empathy are more likely to be considerate drivers.
These are only three reasons kids should be walking and biking to school, but there are plenty more. Together we can help students form life-long habits and make walking and biking a community norm. Walk & Roll to School week is October 16-21 and will cumulate in a family fun ride in City Park on October 22nd. Help spread the word and find more information on our Facebook page.
Posted by Heather Haylett on September 25, 2017 in Events
Bike Easy partnered with Whole Foods Market on September 20th for their 5% Community Giving Day.
An Incredible Outcome
On 5% Day, Whole Foods donates 5% of total pre-tax sales from all four Greater New Orleans stores to a chosen non-profit. With combined outreach from Whole Foods and Bike Easy, we were able to raise a total of $14,980! We are thankful for the support of Whole Foods and the community we live in.
Advocating for Safer Streets
Bike Easy staff, ambassadors, and volunteers were out talking to people who stopped in to shop at Whole Foods on Wednesday. Customers were able to take home free New Orleans Bike Maps and sign Complete Streets petitions.
We also asked people to share their #iBikeNOLA and #iBikeJP stories and learned why people love to walk and ride their bikes in the Greater New Orleans area. We randomly chose one person who shared their story on social media to be the recipient of a free bike tune-up from Masseys. Congratulations to our winner Maggie! Maggie says: “#iBikeNOLA because it’s more fun than driving.”
We held a random drawing for new membership sign-ups as well. And congratulations to Eugenie, the winner of a $100 gift certificate to Mike the Bike Guy. In total, we had three new membership sign-ups.
Overall Bike Easy was able to reach a wide audience in neighborhoods throughout the Greater New Orleans area. We were able to talk about education, advocacy efforts, and our goal to make bicycling easy, safe, and fun.
The funds raised through Whole Foods 5% Community Giving Day will help install a FixIt Station in Mandeville and the City of New Orleans. We are grateful for the support of Whole Foods, our sponsors, and our community. 5% Community Giving Day will go a long way in supporting Bike Easy’s work to make all streets safe and accessible for everyone.
Thanks to everyone who came and shopped at Whole Foods on September 20th!
Posted by Heather Haylett on September 11, 2017 in Advocacy
Read about a Complete Streets Ambassador’s 100 mile journey and how you can help strategize to create change.
You may have noticed Complete Streets Ambassador, Taylor Gorman, overtaking our social media recently. She went on a 100-mile bike ride to promote streets built to share throughout Greater New Orleans. Using Bike Easy’s New Orleans Bike Map and Guide to Safe Cycling, Taylor traveled areas from the lower 9th Ward to the Lakefront to Algiers (via the ferry). She experienced smooth paths through Gentilly and along the Lafitte Greenway, making it easy to get from Mid City to Downtown. She also discovered parts of the city lacking safe pathways for people biking or even walking.
Take a look at our Instagram @BikeEasy to see all of her pictures and thoughts on biking throughout New Orleans.
Along her journey, Taylor took note of many new changes like the bike lanes on Rampart Street, while other roadways seemed long overdue for improvements such as St. Claude Avenue and the Claiborne bridge connecting the Upper and Lower 9th Ward.
As a Complete Streets Ambassador, Taylor is passionate about advocating for streets built to share for everyone – people biking, people walking, people taking transit, and for people driving. In New Orleans, Complete Streets policy was passed in 2011, aiming to develop roadways that integrate vehicle transportation with people walking and on bikes. While we’ve seen much progress, New Orleans streets still have a long way to go to. With the help of Taylor (and her fellow Complete Streets Ambassadors), the cause of safe, accessible streets for every neighborhood of New Orleans is in motion.
If you’ve ever felt like you have solutions for improved streets in your area, but are lacking strategies to create change, a new focus in Bike Easy’s Complete Streets Campaign is promoting neighborhood-based biking and walking committees. These committees are designed to give voice to community residents, working with Bike Easy and local government officials.
Posted by Dan Favre on September 5, 2017 in Advocacy
Get involved with the technical details of shaping Greater New Orleans’ biking future
Bike Easy is assembling a committee of Greater New Orleans residents with diverse backgrounds and expertise to meet regularly with the following goals/responsibilities in mind:
to help determine Bike Easy’s external policy positions
to create street design recommendations
to make strategic advocacy action recommendations
to hold occasional “Policy Forums” to solicit feedback from the larger community
Volunteer Member Duties
The committee will meet once a month at the Bike Easy office, on a specific day and time to be decided. Committee members are expected to attend each meeting to discuss the agenda put forth by Bike Easy’s Executive Director and the Committee Chairperson based on input from committee members, staff, board, volunteers, and the public. Based on each month’s specific agenda and projects, committee members will have tasks to complete outside of these meetings. These tasks could range from research to ad hoc meetings with smaller groups. The total time commitment per month is estimated to be 5-10 hours/month (including the monthly meeting). Bike Easy is seeking 10 members to each serve a for the remainder of 2017 and all of 2018. After 2018, terms will be for one year.
How to Apply
Posted by Keith Holt on September 5, 2017 in Advocacy
Fall 2017 Complete Streets Ambassadors will work to help make Streets Build to Share
Recently, the fall cohort of Complete Streets Ambassadors met at Bike Easy offices to go through our extensive training for all things Complete Streets and being a citizen advocate. These folks will be community leaders highlighting the need for safer and more accessible biking and walking over the next three months and beyond.
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.
We are extremely excited to welcome, Ann, Aubree, Cheri, Gloria, Michelle, Renard, Suzanne, and Taylor as this new 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 August 26, 2017 in Advocacy
Three of our new Complete Streets Ambassadors share their stories
My name is Michelle O’Flynn and 16 years ago I lost my eyesight. After a few frustrating years of relying on other people to transport me I got my first bike. This commuter bicycle gave me freedom to get places when I wanted and needed to. I want to see Jefferson parish with complete streets because I ride on the streets every day and I would like to do it safer. One thing I would really like to see is a safe way for people on bicycles to cross the train tracks in Jefferson Parish.
Renard Bridgewater is a native New Orleanian and graduate of both Holy Cross High School and the University of New Orleans. As the Community Engagement Coordinator for the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans (MaCCNO), Renard works to disseminate info and advocate for the city’s musicians, performers and cultural practitioners at the intersection of policy change and positive economic impact. As a tenured veteran in the city’s Hip-Hop community (performing under the moniker Slangston Hughes) and previous participant in Sweet Home New Orleans’ Accessing Artist Revenue Streams course, he has a passion for live music and artist empowerment, and continues to pass on the knowledge he has gained to help empower his peers. This is utilized in his Uniquity (yoo-knik-wi-tee) Music imprint, which provides a performance platform for regional/touring bands and local Hip-Hop, R&B and Spoken Word artists, as well as providing music publishing for local artists and facilitating workshops that cultivate professional development in the music industry.
Suzanne Cole moved to New Orleans with a bike and a dream of year-round riding in 2010 after freezing through too many Pennsylvania winters. As a resident of Central City, Suzanne is a bike-and-bus commuter and loves living the car-free lifestyle. Suzanne pays the bills by working as a line cook and spends evenings taking classes towards their masters at the University of New Orleans. Living in Central City and working in the service industry has given Suzanne a lot of bicycle connections. Knowing so many folks who rely on their own two wheels lit their passion for safer streets, more reliable transit options, and good access to repair services. Suzanne is passionate about bike education that is affirming and comfortable, especially for women, queer folks, and people without traditional access to formal education. Long term, Suzanne has a vision of a world where bikers aren’t fighting for a piece of the streets. — They ride a 2012 Globe Work while fixing up a 1972 Danleigh Deluxe they inherited from their dad.