A nola.com op-ed from Matt Hendrickson, policy director at local transit advocacy organization, RIDE New Orleans
Original story on nola.com
New Orleans needs to fill the gaps in its transit system
Tuesday 21 7:23am
By Matt Hendrickson, guest columnist
New Orleans streets are designed for danger. Our roads are designed to accommodate as many cars as possible, often to the exclusion of any and everything else. Not unrelated, New Orleans ranked close to the worst in the nation for walking and bicycling safety.
This is especially problematic for people taking transit – the primary mode of travel for tens of thousands of our fellow New Orleanians. There is a real lack of safe and effective ways to get you to and from your bus or streetcar stop.
The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) has determined that 94 percent of their bus stops are not ADA compliant because of broken or incomplete sidewalks, lack of wheelchair ramps, or not enough space in their stop’s waiting areas. Making matters worse, fewer than 300 of the more than 2,000 RTA bus and streetcar stops have shelters to protect riders from the elements.
Meanwhile, because we don’t prioritize transit on our city streets, the bus or streetcar is often late and hard to rely on – leading to lengthy commutes, late employees and missed appointments.
Fortunately, we have two important opportunities this year to comprehensively make this better.
First, the city is planning to update its Complete Streets policy. Complete Streets are streets designed to provide safe, convenient and comfortable access for people no matter what mode of travel they are using. A strong Complete Streets policy can reverse dangerous road design by emphasizing protection for the most vulnerable, starting with people walking – which all people who take transit have to do at some point – and people riding their bikes.
A well-implemented Complete Streets policy will set goals and track progress, so we all know important information such as where crashes are occurring, what kinds and how many walking, biking and transit projects are happening, and where they’re located.
At the same time, the RTA, JeT and St. Bernard Urban Rapid Transit have started a process called New Links that intends to transform our regional transit network. The end result could change where transit lines go in order to better and more reliably connect people to jobs, school, the doctor’s office and many other places. This is an opportunity to redesign our transit system, and there couldn’t be a better time to simultaneously redesign our streets.
New Links seeks to address the very real challenges transit riders face on a daily basis. Today, the average New Orleanian can only reach 12 percent of the region’s jobs within 30 minutes or less – a huge difference to a resident who has access to a car and can reach 89 percent of the region’s jobs in the same timeframe. That lack of access is exacerbated by the fact that 20 percent of New Orleans households do not have access to an automobile – a number twice the national average. Needless to say, this harshly impacts low-income, communities of color and those that need a transportation lifeline the most. This disparity is unacceptable, and riders deserve more.
Combined, these two efforts can not only make our streets safer for everyone and improve transit so that lower-income people have a more reliable alternative, but they can provide appealing alternatives to sitting in traffic and paying too much for parking for people who currently have no other choice but to drive.
However, prioritizing Complete Streets takes dedication — not just by dedicating road space but also political will from our elected officials. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has started strong on this front. She created a new Office of Transportation that can facilitate road design and planning with the RTA and other city agencies and released a transportation vision — the Moving New Orleans plan – that looks to improve safety and accessibility for all road users.
With this momentum, the time is now to complete our streets through an updated Complete Streets policy and redesigned transit network, that comprehensively connects to all our bicycle and walking networks.
We have an enormous opportunity to provide more equitable access and mobility options for all New Orleanians and the region. Let’s take advantage of that opportunity.
Matt Hendrickson is the policy director at local transit advocacy organization, RIDE New Orleans.
A nola.com op-ed from Rob Henig Bell, Campaign Manager at Bike Easy
Original article from nola.com.
We can make New Orleans the premier city for biking and walking
Updated 7:44 AM; Today 7:30 AM
Author: By Robert Henig Bell, guest columnist
By Robert Henig Bell, guest columnist
It’s springtime in New Orleans, a perfect time to bike around and soak in all the sights, sounds and smells in the air. This spring, it’s also a season of change for biking and mobility.
Progress is taking shape to increase safety and access to people in more neighborhoods, but if we’re going to secure an accessible, equitable and sustainable future for transportation in New Orleans we need to be thoughtful, transparent and inclusive.
This is the first in a series of essays from the New Orleans Complete Streets Coalition, local organizations pushing to rebuild our streets so they’re built for everyone who uses them — people walking, biking, driving, and riding transit. Much of the discussion recently has been about bikes and bike safety, but this issue is actually bigger than that. Ultimately, this is a conversation about our freedom to choose how we get around.
That’s why advocates like us at Bike Easy are so excited about the City of New Orleans committing to building up to 75 miles of protected bike lanes over the next two years. We’re also committed, and we hope the city is too, to ensuring all our streets are planned and built for all types of travel, and for healthy, equitable and livable communities for decades to come. That requires a new, robust, fully implemented Complete Streets policy for New Orleans.
Over the past year, a lot has happened for biking in New Orleans. We collaborated with the city to demonstrate the potential of connected and protected bikeway networks. That project, Connect The Crescent, temporarily reorganized downtown streets to expand ridership, improve safety and collect community feedback. It worked!
Of the more than 800 residents surveyed, 87 percent said they felt safer with physical barriers installed to separate people driving and people biking. On every street where a protected lane was installed, the number of people biking increased between 20 percent to 84 percent.
At the same time, median speeds of cars and trucks remained the same, while dangerous and illegal speeding decreased significantly. This is a window looking out at a brighter future: streets designed to encourage people to bike and to walk, thereby reducing congestion and hazards like speeding and drunk driving.
We have the experience. We have the data that shows how big a difference a protected bike commute can make. With a big push to protect new and existing routes, biking to work or school is about to become a safe option for thousands who don’t feel comfortable doing so today, especially kids, seniors and people with disabilities.
New bikeways to be installed will appear alongside new crosswalks to improve overall safety at many dangerous intersections. At the same time, RTA is being reformed to expand public transportation. Taken together, these efforts are creating new, safe and affordable transportation options for everyone who lives and works in New Orleans.
These are great steps forward toward maximizing our city’s potential to become the most walkable and bikeable city in the country. From Bike Easy’s perspective, and as you’ll read in forthcoming essays from our coalition partners, the way to make sure we actually get there is for our city government to adopt a data-driven and equity-focused Complete Streets program.
Safe biking routes, accessible walking paths and reliable public transportation need to reach every neighborhood, particularly those most in need. The people of New Orleans deserve a publicly accountable process, and this administration needs to build on the progress they’ve already made by building a culture that views safe biking, prioritized transit lines, traffic-calming measures and green infrastructure as priorities, not afterthoughts.
We’ve been recently reminded, with the horrific crash on Esplanade Avenue during Mardi Gras, why so many of our friends and neighbors choose not to ride at all. They don’t feel safe. It’s time we realize what a huge missed opportunity this state of affairs is for New Orleans.
With just a slight shift in priorities we can safely and efficiently share our roads, by making sure people biking, people walking, and people driving each know where they’re supposed to be on the road. Like that high ground between the river and the lake where this city was founded 300 years ago, New Orleans is well-positioned to become America’s premier city for biking and walking. We’re already the best city for dancing in the streets, so why not?
Robert Henig Bell is the campaign manager at Bike Easy, a non-profit advocacy organization working to improve biking and walking in and around New Orleans.
Rolling Sunday, May 26th
This year is Bike Easy’s 16th anniversary and we want to celebrate the joy of riding bicycles through the neighborhoods of our beautiful city with YOU!
You’re invited to Bike Easy’s annual Spring Bicycle Second Line! Join us Sunday, May 26th in City Park for a pedal-powered version of the famous, musical second line parades that wind through New Orleans streets. The family-friendly ride is approximately 10-miles long, goes at a very casual parade pace of 7-10 miles per hour, and includes two stops. Everyone is welcome to join the fun, and participating in the ride is free! The ride will end at Second Line Brewing for an after-party, a very family friendly venue where the winners of April’s Bike Easy Challenge will be awarded their prizes!
When: Sunday, May 26th. Registration at 10 am, ride begins at 10:30 am
Where: City Park in front of New Orleans Museum of Art
What: A 10-mile slow ride through Mid-City, the French Quarter, and the CBD with 2 bathroom/rest stops (Doerr Furniture and Magnolia Yoga) and ending at Second Line Brewing for an after party.
RSVP to the Bicycle Second Line!
The event is FREE and open to the public because of our generous sponsors: Bike Law, Burns Charest, Green Coast Enterprises, Odyssey House, Concordia, Louisiana Public Health Institute, Reginelli’s Pizzeria, TerpsiKore 3D Printing, Alembic Community Development Corporation, Northwestern Mutual and our Bike Shop Supporters Bokah Bikes, NOBS, The Bike Shop and Luna Bikes.
If you would like to volunteer at the event, sign up for a shift! You can also help us spread the word – RSVP and share our Facebook event. The Spring Bicycle Second Line is a great way to show your support for better bicycling in Greater New Orleans while having fun with friends and family.
See Bicycle Second Line below
Tuesday, May 14th 6 - 7:30 pm.
Do you live, work, or pass through downtown during your commute? Attend the city’s public meeting for Moving New Orleans Bikes Tuesday, May 14th from 6 – 7:30 pm at the New Orleans Public Library Main Branch (219 Loyola Ave. New Orleans, LA 70112) to provide your input about a bikeway network within and connecting to the CBD.
Will you come out to add your perspective to the collective vision for a network of connected and protected bikeways? RSVP for the public meeting tomorrow to receive important updates and information about the meeting.
Bike Easy News
MOVING NEW ORLEANS DOWNTOWN BIKEWAYS
The 8th public meeting for Moving New Orleans Bikes will be Tuesday, May 14th from 6 – 7:30 pm at the New Orleans Public Library Main Branch (219 Loyola Ave. New Orleans, LA 70112). This event is co-hosted by the Downtown Development District.
RSVP for Moving New Orleans Downtown Bikeways!
The open house style meetings will be fun and interactive as participants collectively identify mobility challenges, desired destinations, and potential routes.
The City of New Orleans is hosting public meetings as part of Moving New Orleans: Bikes, an initiative to plan and rapidly build protected bikeways across the city over the next two years as part of the larger transportation vision to improve safety, connectivity, accessibility, and equity.
SPRING BICYCLE SECOND LINE
Bike Easy’s signature Spring Bicycle Second Line is a pedal-powered version of the famous, musical second line parades that wind through New Orleans streets during the year. Our bicycle second line will have live music leading the parade and a family friendly post-ride celebration at Second Line Brewing with more live music, food trucks, children’s activities and more!
WHEN: Sunday, May 26
Registration at 10 am Ride rolls at 10:30 am
WHERE: Meet in front of NOMA in City Park
COST: Free to ride!
PS. The first 150 Bike Easy Members get a free commemorative t-shirt!
BIKE LAW LEGAL CLINIC
Want to get armed with great information about your rights while riding? Or what to do if you’re involved in a crash or harassed? Or simply how to make a positive difference in the biking community? Charlie Thomas of Bike Law will cover these topics and more at the Bike Law Legal Clinic. Feel free to bring questions.
The Bike Law network is a 501©(3) and is focused on conversations and action about safety, education, legislation at the national and state level, advocacy and support for all things bicycle related.
2019 GIVENOLA DAY
Bike Easy raised just over $19,000 from 201 donors on #GiveNOLADay! Thank you for helping us surpass our goal! Donations will help educate students in safe biking and walking, advocate for ‘Complete Streets’ that are built to share in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish, host our annual Spring Bicycle Second Line, and much more!
At Bike Easy we believe in biking as a tool to create a healthy, prosperous, resilient, and equitable future for all people of the region and are proud to participate in GiveNOLA Day. Thank you for joining us!
BECOME A BIKE EASY MEMBER!
May is Membership Month! Bike Easy Membership shows your belief in a future where people of all ages and abilities can bike, walk, and ride transit safely, whoever they are and wherever they live!
Don’t forget the first 150 Members to check-in at the Spring Bicycle Second Line get a FREE commemorative t-shirt!
BECOME A MEMBER!
BICYCLING FOR ALL
Join us Saturday, May 11th at 10:30 am at the Algiers Regional Library for Bicycling for All. This is a free bicycling safety workshop to learn about the rules of the road, how to share the road, and safety and collision avoidance. Families are welcome! Free collapsible water bottles and bike lights for participants.
SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT: ENTERGY
Thank you to our featured Bike Easy Challenge sponsor, Entergy! Entergy started supporting the original Bike to Work Day eight years ago and has been involved in the growth of biking in New Orleans ever since. We thank them for their continued excitement and corporate leadership in building a better and safer bike network for all!
2019 RIDE OF SILENCE
Wednesday, May 15th at 7 pm is the 2019 Ride of Silence. Meet at the St. Charles entrance to Audubon Park for a brief ceremony, remembering family and loved-ones who lost their lives while riding their bicycle followed by a 10-mile ride.
After the ride, Jenny and Charlie Thomas will host a get-together at their home at 1527 Calhoun St. Participants of all abilities are invited to join the procession. As the name indicates, the riders are requested to remain silent to show respect for and honor the lives of those who have been killed or injured.
BIKE RITE CLASSIC
Saturday, June 1st from 5 – 10 pm is the Bike Rite Classic hosted by Get Up N Ride, Broad Community Connections, and Dashing Bicycles! Head to the Lafitte Greenway on N. Dorgenois for local music, food vendors, contests, and all things bikes. Help celebrate the love and culture of bike riding in New Orleans
h4.2019 BIKE EASY CHALLENGE STATS
This was our biggest year yet with 1,050 people who logged a ride and 125 organizations who took part, including 169 new riders. Altogether you rode 92,572 miles, that’s more than 3.5 times around the world!
Thank you for contributing to these amazing results. Participating in the Bike Easy Challenge is a great way to show the strength of the biking culture in New Orleans!
BETH’S FRIENDS FOREVER
The mission of Beth’s Friends Forever is to help supplement the resources of women fighting cancer in the Greater New Orleans area. Join them for two events to raise funds to help cancer patients cover the numerous treatment-associated expenses that come up during the course of cancer treatment.
BFF Federal City Criterium
Saturday, May 18, 2019 at 2 PM – 8:30 PM
2200 Constitution St. New Orleans, LA 70114
BFF’s Fondeaux Charitable Bike Ride 2019
Sunday, May 19, 2019 at 7:30 AM
Urban South Brewery 1645 Tchoupitoulas
RSVP for the 8th public meeting for Moving New Orleans Bikes.
Thanks to all who competed for the 2019 Bike Easy Challenge!
The Bike Easy Challenge grew out of the first Bike to Work Day eight years ago. Since then, New Orleans Bike to Work Day has expanded to include the Greater New Orleans region and maintains it’s spot as the marquis event of the Bike Easy Challenge. Three years ago, organizations and people involved in the planning of Bike to Work Day recognized that to hold an event that truly captures the depth of people who bike in this city, we must include more than just the people who bike to work. The Bike Easy Challenge was born and has been growing ever since.
The Challenge intends to show the breadth of people who ride bikes in New Orleans and also lets them show a little of their competitive edges by riding for the top spot on leaderboards and prizes. People who bike anytime, anywhere can participate – whether they’re up on the levee, riding to work, or to the grocery store. The point system also heavily favors encouraging new riders to join. It’s always easier to get back in the saddle when you’re doing it as part of something bigger.
The competition and events attracted record-breaking participation! Over 1000 people logged a ride on the Love To Ride Platform throughout April, riding a total 92,581 miles. Think about all that traffic eased and CO2 saved! 145 workplace teams competed from tech firms to non-profits to New Orleans City Hall and informal groups tested out the new club/group feature for cycling clubs or teams of friends and family. Before and during the month of April riders in Gentilly, New Orleans East, and on the Greenway could stop by our pit stops for coffee and bike maintenance – completely free of charge, bike commuters gathered for the eighth annual Bike to Work Day, and all who competed in the Challenge came together to celebrate at the Bike Easy office with some crawfish and beer. Check out some of the pictures below!
“Last Chance Crawfish Boil!” – Heather Haylett, Tulane Americorps VISTA team champion
“GCE biking with Pogba” – Joe Ryan, Green Coast Enterprises team champion
“BEC Day 3: Rolling on the river” – Jeff Dye, Law Offices of David Jefferson Dye team champion
While we’ve reached the end of the 2019 Bike Easy Challenge, Bike Easy has plenty of events planned for the rest of the year. Join us May 26 for our signature Bicycle Second Line – a pedal powered version of the second lines that wind through our streets. You can check out details on the facebook event here. And stay tuned for our 2019 Bike Easy Challenge individual and team prize winner announcement! And of course, join us next April for the 2020 Bike Easy Challenge.
Thank you to all of the sponsors that make this month-long competition and all of it’s events possible – our featured sponsor Entergy, and Bike Law Louisiana, Blue Bikes, Clean Air Coalition, and GE digital!
Executive Director, Dan Favre, talks about GiveNOLA and the Bicycle Second Line
Well, let’s start with the good news: You can start scheduling your donations for GiveNOLA Day today! What a great way to kick off Bike Easy Membership Month.
And now, the lemon news: The Bicycle Second Line has been rescheduled for Sunday, May 26th. Due to scheduling complications, the next availability for our partners at NOPD to come clear the streets for all of us rolling in Bicycle Second Line is on Sunday, May 26th.
The lemonade: You’ve got that much more time to sign up to become a Bike Easy Member, and then come out to Bicycle Second Line to get your free, commemorative t-shirt.
Back to that good news: GiveNOLA Day is when the whole community comes together to support our favorite causes, and Bike Easy is proud to be in that number. Donations through GiveNOLA can be considered your membership dues, so please consider scheduling a generous contribution to Bike Easy today.
The main benefit of Bike Easy Membership is that warm, fuzzy feeling you get for supporting our work to make bicycling easy, safe, and fun for everyone in Greater New Orleans. Members have enabled lots of recent accomplishments, including:
- The launch of Moving New Orleans Bikes, the City of New Orleans initiative to create a citywide bikeway plan and rapidly build approximately 75 miles of a connected and protected bikeway network,
- The debut of Bike/Walk Friendly Driver education workshops, with partners like Uber, Apple Bus, and AARP, to ensure people driving know all the details of keeping people walking and biking safe on the roadways
- Record-breaking participation in the 2019 Bike Easy Challenge, the free, friendly workplace competition that helps more people try riding for fun and bike commuting.
Of course, that’s not all you’ll get. Bike Easy Membership also includes:
- The first 150 Members to arrive at Bicycle Second Line on May 26th get a free t-shirt,
- Discounts around town at some of your favorite businesses and events,
- An exclusive invite to the Annual Membership Party (ahem, I mean “Meeting”).
Schedule your GiveNOLA donation now!
Personally, my favorite part of being a Bike Easy Member is simply being part of an amazing community of people, and the Bicycle Second Line is always a beautiful celebration and gathering of that community. I sincerely apologize for any disrupted plans or inconvenience due to this necessary rescheduling, and I hope to still see you out at the Bicycle Second Line over Memorial Day weekend on Sunday, May 26. Don’t worry, we’ll be turning these lemons into plenty of refreshing lemonade to keep you cool during the ride.
While we’re still re-confirming the band and some other details, the basic logistics are meeting up in City Park in front of NOMA at 10am on Sunday, May 26th. The ride rolls at 10:30am. We’ll be encouraging everyone to sign up as Members for all the reasons listed above, but the ride is free for everyone regardless of membership. The route is about 10-miles on streets closed to motor vehicles, with 2 water/snack stops, and as always, we’ll be lead by a live band. This is a great event for all ages, so bring the whole family!
I can’t wait to ride with y’all on Sunday, May 26th, and I look forward to getting the chance to thank you in person for your Membership support of Bike Easy.
GiveNOLA Day kicks off May Membership Month
GiveNOLA is less than a week away! This 24 hour day of giving is a chance for the Greater New Orleans community to support nonprofits that share their values. Bike Easy believes in the power of bicycling to help create a healthy, prosperous, resilient, and equitable future for all people of the region. You can make your GiveNOLA donation now at http://www.givenola.org/bike-easy
May is Membership Month and the best way to share the joy of bicycling and make it an easy choice for everyone is to become a Bike Easy Member! With Membership support, we push for better bikeways, improve Complete Streets policies in the region, and promote bike culture through the Bike Easy Challenge. You can make your donation to become a Member during GiveNOLA at http://www.givenola.org/bike-easy
The Bike Easy Challenge runs until April 30th!
We are in the final days of the 2019 Bike Easy Challenge!
You have until April 30th to log a ride, encourage new riders, and win prizes. The Bike Easy Challenge is a free, team-based competition that aims to get more people on bike, especially new bike riders. You can win prizes for encouraging people to log a ride, biking multiple days in a row, and for the number of miles ridden.
Have you logged a ride for the Bike Easy Challenge yet?
You can connect an app like Ride Report or Strava to have rides registered automatically or you can enter your rides manually on your user profile at http://www.lovetoride.net/bikeeasy.
Even better, have you gotten a friend, co-worker, or brand new bike rider to log a ride yet? The best strategy to win the team Challenge is to encourage others to log their rides as well (and have them mark you as their “encourager”). There are also badges to earn that mark your riding accomplishments. May is Membership Month at Bike Easy and you can celebrate early while earning the Advocate Badge by becoming a Bike Easy Member!
All you need to do is ride a bike for ten minutes, anytime, anywhere. If it’s been a while since you’ve been in the saddle, check out the Lafitte Greenway, City Park, or Audubon Park to get back in the swing of things. Or just take a quick trip to the store or a friend’s house in the neighborhood.
Log a ride for the Bike Easy Challenge!
Need another reason to ride a bike? Tuesday, April 30th is the Last Chance Crawfish Boil from 5 – 7 pm! Ride your bike to the Bike Easy office (2100 Oretha Castle Haley) and celebrate the Challenge finale. We’ll be raffling a 10-speed 57cm tall Gangl road bike! Don’t forget to log your ride on your user profile at http://www.lovetoride.net/bikeeasy.
Thanks for participating in the Bike Easy Challenge and helping increase awareness for people on bikes in Greater New Orleans!
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