Posted by Heather Haylett on March 15, 2019 in Advocacy
City Council Testimony from Dan Favre
It’s been a rough month for the bike community, for the whole community. My deepest condolences to the families of Sharree Walls, David Hynes, and Frank Fisher, and my sincere wishes for a full and fast healing to everyone recovering from injuries.
Thanks to the work of the Ghost Bikes project to honor those we’ve lost, provide a vital tool in the grieving and healing process, and build momentum towards a future with safe streets.
My name is Dan Favre, and I’m the Executive Director of Bike Easy, the local non-profit whose mission is to make bicycling easy, safe, and fun for everyone in Greater New Orleans.
As I’ve been reeling from this tragedy along with so many in our community, it is the palpable desire for action to make our streets safe for everyone, to provide safe and equitable transportation options to all the people living in all neighborhoods of this City. it’s that clearly felt community desire that has inspired me and kept me moving. The urgency to act on the commitment to safe streets that are built to share feels so clear in this moment, and we must come together to reorganize our roadways and shift our societal attitudes. Thank you for having me here today as we chart our course of collective action.
The crash during Mardi Gras was a horrific, and preventable tragedy. The circumstances speak to a multitude of specific issues – drunk driving, event traffic management, but it is also indicative of the risk and fear many people face riding every day. Less than two weeks prior, Frank Fisher was killed while riding his bike to work in the morning, in broad daylight on a normal Wednesday.
There are many changes to be made – better education for all parties, stronger laws and enforcement to protect vulnerable road users, further work to eradicate drunk driving… At Bike Easy, based on research, on-going work, and a desire for the biggest and fastest impact, we have chosen to focus on the need to reorganize our roadways to better accommodate all people, no matter how they choose to travel that day. These events have shown what many of us have long known – a single stripe of paint is not always enough to protect people biking.
Now, make no mistake, New Orleans has been making progress on improving mobility and creating safe streets. We are building off a growing strength. We’ve got more and more hi-viz crosswalks and pedestrian signals. The RTA continues to rebuild and is undergoing exciting updates. Bike infrastructure and the bicycling culture of New Orleans have greatly evolved over the last decade or so.
And there are more people than ever riding bikes… which is great! The benefits of biking are impressive for individuals, families, and the broader community – even for those who will never bike. Biking can help reduce health disparities, improve equity, facilitate job access & economic development, contribute to quality-of-life… and let us not forget, biking is fun! It’s a joyful activity. But even if you don’t ride, more people biking is good for you – decreased traffic congestion, improved air quality, and more parking available. Bike lanes and traffic calming help reduce illegal and dangerous speeding, making our neighborhoods safer and more livable.
However, there are still major challenges to overcome to enable everyone to experience the benefits of biking, especially concerning safety and accessibility for people of all ages and abilities in all parts of the city. While the relative risk of riding has gone down over recent years. The four fatalities and multiple injuries that have already occurred in 2019 have show how great the need is to continue our push towards safe streets built to share and a connected and protected network of bikeways.
Creating safe mobility options is also an equity issue. In a report Bike Easy authored along with the National Complete Streets Coalition titled Complete Streets for Health Equity, the data showed that while 32% of people living in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish live in high-poverty census tracts, over 67% of crashes involving people walking and biking happen in those areas.
Almost 20% of households in New Orleans don’t have access to a motor vehicle, and that number increases to over 32% when the heads of household are black. And our unacceptable health disparities – up to 25 years life expectancy differentials – break along race and class lines.
But thankfully, we’ve already been working towards the solutions, and I’m hopeful that the we will use this moment to bring our community together in support of rapidly implementing those solutions.
First – creating streets built to share that are safe for all users, whether walking, driving, biking, taking the bus, or riding in a wheelchair.
The City Council passed a Complete Streets ordinance in 2011 that has propelled many of the advances we’ve seen in streets being built to share for the safety of all users. Of course, the approach to Complete Streets has evolved, and for over 2 years, the New Orleans Complete Streets Coalition, comprised of a variety of public health, mobility, and neighborhood organizations along with businesses and clubs, has been working to build public support and develop detailed recommendations for an updated Complete Streets policy that will facilitate implementation in a data-driven, equity-focused, and publicly transparent way. We appreciate this Council’s support of that policy update back in July, and we’re glad to see it once again invoked in the resolution you will take up today. The administration has also been considering the details of this policy, and we eagerly await a comprehensive update that follows the recommendations of the Council and the community.
Second – Work has also been happening to develop the details of implementing a network of connected and protected bike lanes that can dramatically improve safety and peace of mind for all travelers. Not only has incredible effort gone in from entities like the Federal Highway Administration, the American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials, and the National Association of City Transportation Officials, and others, but also right here in New Orleans – from the Connect the Crescent pop-up demonstration to current work Mayor Cantrell’s administration is doing towards creating a citywide bikeway network plan and rapidly building it out, two projects we’ll hear more about at the next Transportation Committee meeting.
Protected lanes are located on or next to the road but are physically separated from motor vehicle traffic and only used by people riding bikes. Networks of connected and protected bikeway don’t leave people driving, walking, or biking to navigate incomplete connections that force everyone into unsafe and confusing situations.
When the bike network integrates with our transit system, safe walking, and efficient driving, everyone can get where they are going with the greatest safety and the least amount of hassle because the traffic flow needs of all are met through careful planning and smart construction. And when those networks link underserved areas to job centers, people are connected to opportunity.
Reorganizing our roadways can also help shift our collective consciousness, can help ensure everyone is more aware of one another, can help show that everyone deserves to get where they are going safely and comfortably. Study after study, including some right here in New Orleans, show that bike infrastructure helps encourage people biking to better follow the rules of the road and ride more safely. And protected bike lanes aren’t easily abused, the way we see it happen to so many of our standard bike lanes.
This is a big job, and it requires careful technical planning, robust community engagement, and smart construction. Bike Easy, the larger bike/walk community, members of the New Orleans Complete Streets Coalition, and so many more look forward to supporting the institutionalizing of the Complete Streets process. We are thrilled to for everyone to be a part of the City’s developing efforts to create a citywide bikeway network plan and rapidly begin to build it out. We very much look forward to more details and to helping ensure strong community engagement in the process. We look forward to seeing the capacity of the Office of Transportation grow and supporting the work towards safe, equitable, connected, and efficient transportation options.
On behalf of Bike Easy and the all the people we aim to represent – everyone who rides and all those who would like to enjoy the benefits of riding, I thank the Council for everything included in this resolution – from better education and enforcement to encouragement activities like Open Streets. And of course, I’m most excited about the infrastructure recommendations, for the value and safety those changes will bring to everyone.
Strong community engagement to support these actions is key. I encourage everyone here today to keep showing up, bring your friends, your neighbors, total strangers. Come to more of these Council meetings, come to the bikeway planning and regional transit reimagining meetings that will be announced soon, be active in your community speaking up for active transportation. Help bring people of color and low-to-moderate income individuals who have long been left out of it into the transportation planning process.
As we mourn the loss of young, bright lives, let us come together to ensure that:
We have a Complete Streets policy that is data-driven, equity-focused, and publicly accountable so when roadways are reconstructed they become safe streets that are built to share and
That we have a safe, connected and protected bikeway network that works for all.
All levels of government, civic leaders and businesses, advocates and everyday commuters – let’s work together to eliminate deaths on our roadways, to provide easy and safe ways for everyone to get to work, to school, to the park, to the store, no matter how they choose to travel that day.
To honor Sharree, David, Frank, and all who have been hurt or killed on our roadways, let’s do this. Let’s do this right. Let’s do this right now!
Add your voice to the call for safe and equitable mobility options
As our community continues to process the horrific crash on Esplanade Ave that took two wonderful people from the world far too early, many people are reaching out to us here at Bike Easy asking the pressing question:
“What can I do to keep this from happening again?”
At the touching memorial ride and ghost bike dedication this weekend, the desire for change was palpable and expressed by many – from the families of those who were killed and friends who were injured in the crash to Councilmember Jason Williams and everyday folks who like to ride bikes. Our friend, Sophie, from Friends of Lafitte Greenway even managed to call for protected bike lanes from her hospital bed via Facetime.
It is the time for action.
The solutions on the table are not new, they are not simply a reaction. Advocates have been calling for them for years, the City has already been discussing them, and now, sadly, the need is clearer than ever.
There are many changes to be made. At Bike Easy, based on research, on-going work, and a desire for the biggest and fastest impact, we have chosen to prioritize the call for streets built to share and a citywide network of connected and protected bikeways. As simple as these common sense solutions may seem, they still meet tremendous and unnecessary controversy. We need you to join the call in support of safe bike infrastructure. Here are three ways you can get involved:
1. Sign our new petition and/or contact Mayor Cantrell and your Councilmembers directly. Let them know that along with keeping the people who ride safe, connected and protected bike networks benefit everyone, even those who never ride – from reduced congestion and pollution to improved public health, social equity, job access, and quality-of-life.
2. Come to the New Orleans City Council meeting this Thursday, March 14 at 10am to show your support for streets built to share that are safe for everyone, no matter how they choose to travel that day. Council President Jason Williams has put a presentation on bike safety and improved infrastructure (featuring the good folks who dedicate the ghost bikes and yours truly) at the top of the agenda. Come show the City Council and everyone at City Hall just how powerful this movement for safe streets really is! If you’ve never been to a meeting before, just head on down to City Hall (1300 Perdido St) and ask them to direct you to the Council Chambers. We’ll have someone there to show you how to submit a comment card.
3. Register to become a Complete Streets Ambassador and come to the kickoff training Sunday, March 24th from 1pm to 5pm. The City of New Orleans will soon be announcing a series of public meetings to inform a citywide bikeway network plan. To make it the best plan possible, Bike Easy, the Complete Streets Ambassadors, and other partners will be working to ensure the community is deeply engaged to create the best plan possible. And the more support we show during the planning phase, the faster the City will get to the building phase. On Sunday, March 24th, we’ll be going over all the details, sharing tips and skills to organize your neighbors, and setting out a plan of action for the coming months.
Finally, if advocacy isn’t your thing, and you prefer to focus on education, please register for and join the Smart Biking Class in early April to gain the skills you’ll need to be an effective volunteer with our education team. Once you’ve been through the course, you can help with outreach and activities to teach roadway safety to people who bike and to people who drive.
On a personal note – one action I’ve also been focused on is making sure to keep riding, to not let this horror sap the joy I feel when biking. It’s not easy, but it feels right, and it was amazing to ride with so many of you on Saturday.
To honor Sharree and David, and Frank, and every person who’s been hurt or killed while biking in Greater New Orleans, I’m more inspired than ever to work to make bicycling easy, safe, and fun for everyone. And in these tough times, I’ve been uplifted by just how much others feel the same. Thank you.
Posted by Heather Haylett on March 11, 2019 in Events
Three weeks to go!
With 3 weeks to go until the Bike Easy Challenge, below are some quick tips and tricks to help you get the word out at your workplace and encourage people to join the challenge.
During Mardi Gras and throughout the year, biking in New Orleans should be safe and accessible for everyone. Sadly, this past weekend reminded us how far we have to go before New Orleans can reach its potential as a top-tier city for biking. That’s what the Bike Easy Challenge is all about: showing ourselves and our local leaders how many of us rely on bikes to commute to work, stay active, and have fun. Let’s make this the year to push for safe, accessible, protected, connected bike lanes throughout New Orleans.
Spread the word!
To make it easy to get your co-workers signed-up, you can use this Champion Tool Kit.
Print the Bike Easy Challenge poster and flyer, and use our quick email template to encourage your co-workers to join the Bike Easy Challenge!
Rally the existing riders at your workplace
The Bike Easy Challenge is a great tool for existing riders to help motivate their non-riding co-workers to get on a bike. The more people riding at an organization the stronger the case will be for improved end-of-journey cycling facilities, as well as greater team morale.
It’s not only about which organizations can ride the most, but which can encourage the most people to give cycling a go! Encourage staff to try riding during April to get big points and top the leaderboard – simple!
Encouraging co-workers who already ride to take part means quick wins for your organization and a better shot at going for gold!
Make sure to check out the Bike Easy Challenge Events page for fun opportunities to organize a ride with your team to a happy hour or pit stop.
Posted by Heather Haylett on March 8, 2019 in Advocacy
Advocating to update the parish comprehensive plan.
Last week, the Jefferson Parish Complete Streets Coalition presented to the Jefferson Parish Comprehensive Plan Update Steering Committee. We outlined our work throughout the parish, the elements and benefits of complete streets, and how a complete streets policy could be an effective tool to address issues the parish is currently facing. The steering committee is a group of parish council appointed community members that are tasked with providing oversight and direction to the plan update. The comprehensive plan is a document that guides policy decisions regarding physical growth and development. We presented to the steering committee in hopes that they consider a Complete Streets Policy as one of the recommendations coming out of their update process.
Complete Streets are both an approach to infrastructure and policy and physical elements include visible cross-walks, protected bike lanes, public transit shelters, ADA accessible sidewalks.
Elements of Complete Streets
Complete Streets are not just bike lanes. They include protected bike lanes as part of a larger mobility plan that involves connected routes for safer active transportation for all modes.
Benefits of Complete Streets
Increases safety for all users – if there is a clear idea where people are supposed to be on the road, everyone can share it more easily
Promotes physical activity and active transportation – from our outreach throughout the parish, we’ve heard that folks want easier access to the lake and river levees, parks, and playgrounds
Employees who commute by bike are more productive and take fewer sick days because they are healthier
Businesses often see sales improve when commercial corridors include bike lanes and traffic calming – we’ve heard this echoed in meetings with parish Councilmembers and we’re excited to see developments like the ones happening in Fat City!
Cities and towns that promote bike-friendly infrastructure also see property values increase, and attract more young people
More opportunities for exercise, easier access to shopping and job centers, and safer routes to school are something that people want in the places that they live – it helps keep the folks who are already living here and attracts new ones
Support We’ve Heard and Seen for Complete Streets Across the Parish
Our Kenner Pop-Up Bikeway showed that people who bike, walk, AND drive would like to see Complete Streets improvements.
The pop-up was a mile long temporary installation of a protected bike lane along Loyola Drive in Kenner. Installation was led by bike easy and supported by dozens of volunteers from all across the parish as well as Kenner city officials. Survey responses were gathered from the surrounding neighborhood by knocking door to door both before and after the installation.
But our work has been more than just the Kenner Pop-Up. We’ve talked to people who bike, walk, and drive all across the parish at numerous community events and business associations. This work has been guided by the various perspectives of the Jefferson Parish Complete Streets Coalition and the support from over 800 community members who have signed the petition in support of Complete Streets.
We know Jefferson Parish supports Complete Streets, and a Complete Streets ordinance is the way to institutionalize the driving goals of complete streets – accessibility and safety for all users of the road – and lay out a process to ensure that with any new infrastructure project, if feasible, to incorporate complete streets infrastructure.
The Jefferson Parish Complete Streets Coalition commends the work the parish has already done to ensure improvements have been made to the built environment to increase the safety and accessibility for all modes of transportation, but there is more work to be done. A Complete Streets ordinance would have several important benefits that would support the positive growth of the parish for years to come:
1. Assist in Implementation and Capacity – There is no formal process for how improvements in safety for people who bike and walk are considered for each new infrastructure project. An ordinance would lay out best practices and a step-by-step guide, formulated and agreed upon by the appropriate parish department, for how Complete Streets should be incorporated in new projects.
2. Institutionalize the Process – This ordinance would ensure that creating safe and accessible bike infrastructure is not left solely to the discretion of those in elected office, but is institutionalized within a parish department with the ability to plan long-term.
3. Set Clear, Accountable Expectations – This policy would help set up a process where performance metrics and outcomes are agreed upon and not figured out project by project.
“Safe, connected and protected bike lanes have never been more needed.”
Bike Easy Executive Director, Dan Favre, issued the following statement in the aftermath of the fatal crash on Esplanade Avenue on Saturday night:
“Our hearts continue to ache for everyone impacted by the fatal crash on Esplanade Avenue this weekend. My thoughts are with the family and friends of Sharree Walls and David Hynes, who were horrifically and needlessly killed, and dearly hope for a full recovery to everyone injured.
Safe, connected and protected bike lanes have never been more needed. Protected lanes are located on or next to the road are physically separated and only used by people riding bikes. Unfortunately, as Saturday night showed, a single line of paint marking a bike lane is not sufficient enough to create the safety everyone deserves.
During Mardi Gras and all year long, the people of New Orleans need mobility options – public transportation, biking, walking and driving – that are safe and accessible. Changes must be made. We need to reimagine what’s possible and how our city can better support every resident’s ability to move around New Orleans safely. Through careful planning and construction, protected bike infrastructure can help solve challenges we all share, especially safety, and help more people experience the joys and benefits of biking.
I’m most infuriated by the fact that, like most crashes, what happened Saturday night was a preventable tragedy. We must come together – city and state government, civic leaders, and everyday people – to call for streets that are built to share and safe for everyone, no matter how they choose to travel.
Please reach out to your Councilmembers, Mayor Cantrell, and other key stakeholders to ask them to act with urgency to build connected, protected bikeways to make New Orleans a safer, healthier city for this generation and the next.”
Last week, Bike Easy teamed up with Caffin Ave. SDA Church in the Lower 9th Ward to offer this year’s first round of Smart Biking classes.
The class, composed of three sessions, included time off and on bikes, and covered topics such as rules of the road, bike handling, group riding, and basic maintenance.
Church Community Service Coordinator Royliene Johnson has worked with other church leaders to launch a free bike lending program for neighbors in the Lower 9th Ward. This past June, the Caffin Ave. “MOB“ (Ministry On Bikes) held their 1st social bicycle ride with the aim of encouraging its community to get active, get healthy and have fun.
Upon completion of the Smart Biking course, participants are eligible to become certified as League Certified Instructors, enabling them to lead their own educational bike safety workshops. Royliene is working towards getting her church members trained so they will be able to do work to promote active transportation and safe biking within their own community.
How to lock your bike properly in preparation for Mardi Gras
David, Bike Easy Bike Parking Coordinator, talks about properly locking your bike in preparation for Mardi Gras! We are hosting King Cake and Bike Maintenance tomorrow from 4 – 6 pm outside the Bike Easy office at 2100 Oretha Castle Haley. Stop by for king cake, a beer, maintenance, and an opportunity to register for the Bike Easy Challenge.
We’re gearing up for our 3rd annual Bike Easy Challenge and registration is open! Bike Easy Challenge is a fun, free competition for everyone in the Greater New Orleans region using the platform Love to Ride. Every time you ride a bike and log your ride between April 1 – 30 you gain points and qualify for prizes! Find out how to log rides, earn prizes, and register for the Bike Easy Challenge at http://www.lovetoride.net/bikeeasy.
KREWE DE BLEUBIKEFUNDRAISER
Join us tonight at 6 pm for the Krewe De Bleu Bike Fundraiser for NOPD’s Fourth District! This event is to raise funds for NOPD’s Fourth District to be able to patrol by bike. With a minimum donation of $25, you can enjoy a night of music, food and drinks at Warren’s Corner in Algiers. Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer will be behind the bar – don’t miss out!
KINGCAKE & BIKEMAINTENANCE
King Cake and Bike Maintenance was postponed due to rain and will now be held on Tuesday, February 26th from 4 – 6 pm. Come hang out with Bike Easy for some King Cake, get some basic maintenance for your bike to prepare for all the Mardi Gras riding, and register for the Bike Easy Challenge!
This fall, Connect the Crescent showcased the concept of a connected, protected biking, walking, and transit network. Conversations were started, valuable data was collected, and a wealth of community feedback was generated for public officials ahead of forthcoming permanent, protected bikeway installations across the city. Next week we will release a report to share what we learned with you.
Here are three top highlights so far:
Improved Safety – Baronne Street saw a 12% drop in reported crashes during Connect The Crescent
Speeding was reduced up to 26%
Bike ridership increased 20 – 84% across all corridors during the demonstration
BECOME A BIKEEASYMEMBER!
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! Members provide Bike Easy the financial and political support needed to continue our education, advocacy, and community event programs. Become a Member today!
Feedback wanted! The City of New Orleans recently applied for Bicycle Friendly Community status from the League of American Bicyclists! The League is seeking your input to gain a better understanding of local bicyclists’ experiences in New Orleans. Please take a minute to complete this brief survey.
Mardi Gras has arrived! 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 more bikes on the road increases the visibility of people on bike and promotes the need for better bike networks.
Keep these six safety tips in mind as you enjoy Mardi Gras on bike:
Watch for hazards
Pack a patch kit
Lock up strategically
Don’t bike through crowds
Bike safely (wear a helmet, use lights, drink responsibly)
Recently, Tsunami Sushi hosted Bike Easy for a presentation about bike safety and Blue Bikes information to their employees! Thank you Tsunami Sushi for providing your employees with information about transportation options. As part of Blue Bikes for All and our goal to improve transportation for service and hospitality workers, we’re handing out free passes to Blue Bikes!
Bike Easy will be at The Rusty Nail on Monday, February 25th from 4:30 – 6 pm providing service and hospitality workers with free passes to Blue Bikes. All service and hospitality workers will receive a discount code for one free month, anybody that receives SNAP or Medicaid benefits can receive a code for a free year of the reduced fare membership!
Join us Sunday, May 12th for the 2019 Spring Bicycle Second Line! This is a musical 10-mile bike ride version of the famous second line parades that traditionally wind through New Orleans streets during the year.
For our Bicycle Second Line, we gather several hundred riders of all ages, interests, and backgrounds and roll through our beautiful New Orleans neighborhoods while brass bands set the tempo. The Bicycle Second Line will start at 10 am at City Park.