Posted by Chloe Anderson on August 9, 2017 in Advocacy
Our Complete Streets Ambassadors are an awesome, dedicated, and hardworking group of community members that bring an important perspective to our work. Here are just a few of their stories.
A bicycle and, oddly enough, car nerd, Taylor began working with the Bike Easy team as a volunteer committee member working on Complete Streets and bicycle infrastructure. An aspiring urban planner, he discovered the field by accident when doing research on the history of public transportation in New Orleans. His passion is in the underlying mechanics and economics of urban design and how they affect people’s behavior every day in ways they don’t even realize.
As a Complete Streets Ambassador, Taylor wants to help people start looking at their communities from more than behind the wheel of a car by encouraging legislation and policymaking designed to encourage the use of alternate modes of transport and to accommodate people of all ages and all physical abilities.
John Mack III
Jack Mack III has worked in the Oil and Gas industry a little over 20 years as a Professional Production Operator in the Gulf of Mexico. He is retired and keeps himself busy with a few hobbies, one of them as a bike enthusiast. John is a member of several social bicycle groups who host rides all throughout the West Bank. He works as a Complete Streets Ambassador to help advocate for more bike safety in his community.
Roi-Lynne Hulin is a lifetime resident of Jefferson Parish where she attended Archbishop Chapelle High School and the University of New Orleans. She received an Associate Degree in Accounting. After being employed by Internal Revenue Service, she focused on raising her family. She volunteered for school, church, and community based organizations.
Roi-Lynne now volunteers for the MS Society as an activist and is on the Government Relations Committee for the organization. She has participated in the MS Bike: Dats How We Roll since 2012, and has ridden for the past two years. Her involvement with the organization has brought her a sense of accomplishment knowing she is a big part of finding a cure for MS.
Roi-Lynne joined the Complete Streets Ambassador program to improve street policies, make streets built to share, and ensure they are safe for walking, riding, and transit. She, with Bike Easy’s help, is currently working on a traffic intervention in her neighborhood in Kenner.
Cheri is a new Orleans based artist and writer who was born in Los Angeles, CA. She joined the Coast Guard in 1986 and spent the next 25 years crisscrossing the US for work. The Coast Guard brought her to Louisiana in the ‘90s, where, after marrying a local boy, she made New Orleans home.
Cheri’s earliest memories of bikes was having to ride whatever machine she and her siblings could cobble together from junk they found. Schwinn was the name in bikes back then and a Varsity, well, that was the Rolls Royce of bikes. A complete, mechanically sound, matching bicycle was out of the families socioeconomic scope, however. Still, early on she knew a day on a bike, any bike, was her kind of day.
Cheri has commuted by bike since her first duty station in the Coast Guard. It was in San Diego where the streets made a bike commute possible. It helped keep her in great shape for her job, was a pressure release for the associated stress, and as a bonus, she could get to work (or the beach, or wherever) faster than by car.
Years later, living in Jeff Parish, Cheri was still commuting about 14 miles one way to work in New Orleans. She would take the levee trail the first nine miles, then up St. Charles or Prytania or Magazine on empty pre-dawn, pre commuter streets. The ride home was a car-dodge until hitting the levee. Then she started to see bike paths. They made the commute safer, less stressful.
Cheri is working with Bike Easy as a Complete Streets Ambassador to work on increasing the safety and access of bike lanes in Jefferson Parish. She would love to see, at a minimum, a few key protected lanes in Kenner to get people safely across the grid.
Cheri currently “only” has four bikes and the most recent addition was, finally, that Schwinn Varsity.
N’Courage NOLA went to the library to collect stories about “Streets Built to Share.”
When N’Courage NOLA went to the main library we collected stories on “Streets Built to Share.” Each group had a different story to tell about their first bike ride they took, what its like to ride bikes now, and what improvements can be made for biking to be better.
Some of the first bike ride stories were rough and tough. But most of them were fun and memorable. We heard stories of being on bike making them “street smart”, happy, and made them want to practice more.
Stories about current biking experiences were funny and sometimes dangerous, while others had you second guessing their life choices. Some of the stories we heard had us confused, but we did not want to pester them into telling us the whole story leading up to that point. All the stories we gathered had improvements that could be made to the city.
Improvements suggested include better-paved streets and more bike paths that can lead to places bikes can’t get to now. Some of the specific streets they wanted to improve for biking and walking are Claiborne Ave, which was one of the most common, Washington Ave, and N Robertson. Participants also shared that they didn’t feel as if laws necessarily prevented accidents from happening and they could be enforced better.
A challenge echoed by most of the riders is the difficulty of getting around without using the interstate or RTA. Other people wanted to feel safer. Most of the stories we collected from people had some type of violence in them and they felt that if they had a better network and enforcement systems they would’ve been able to avoid it completely.
- NCourage NOLA wrote this blog collaboratively after debriefing the youth-led Summer Reading Program events
Update on the St. Bernard Avenue demonstration project
What an incredible weekend! The Complete Streets Ambassadors, Bike Easy, City of New Orleans, and many volunteers installed a temporary protected bike way on St. Bernard Avenue. Many thanks to everyone who participated in the planning, outreach, and installation!
And huge thanks to all the people and businesses on St. Bernard Avenue this weekend! People were generally really welcoming, and we had a lot of great conversations. Personally, I got invited in to The Other Place Bar at the end of the day and had a great time chatting with people, even though many were skeptical. Over a number of cold drinks, we were able to get past initial reactions and really dig into details of how best to accommodate everyone on the street safely, no matter how they travel. We’re looking forward to getting lots more feedback! Please fill out the survey here.
There’s been lots of support from Circle Foods, Ray’s on the Avenue, The First and Last Stop Bar, Sidney’s Saloon, local residents, and many others. Come meet the project organizers and local supporters, give your feedback on the demonstration, and enjoy some food and drink on Tuesday, August 1st from 4pm to 6pm at the Community Kickoff Event!
The 2-week demonstration is a whole new way of showcasing the potential of streets built to share and getting community input into street design. We’re also excited to build momentum for an improved Complete Streets policy that will lead to improved health equity, better public accountability on roadway design, and a low-stress network of really well designed streets that have protected bike lanes, crosswalks and pedestrian signals, and traffic calming measures such as curb “bumpouts” and trees.
The idea behind the temporary design comes from what’s called a “parking protected bike lane”, which is a design currently used in many other cities, supported by the Federal Highway Administration (among many others), and pioneered by the National Association of City Transportation Officials. The specifics on St. Bernard are a collaborative design by the Complete Streets Ambassadors, City of New Orleans, and Bike Easy. It’s not perfect, but I find it to be a huge improvement on my ride. Let us know what you think!
St. Bernard Avenue was chosen as the location for this event through consultation with the Complete Streets Ambassadors, Bike Easy staff and volunteers, and City of New Orleans officials and engineers. Our door-to-door community outreach in the area and discussions with business owners on the Avenue also showed strong community support for the project. Of course, not everyone will love this… and we want to hear from critics too!
St. Bernard Avenue is a crucial connection for residents of the 7th Ward and Gentilly to job centers downtown. Health outcomes in much of the 7th Ward need to be improved, and making walking and biking easy options can help reduce health disparities. Bike Easy would love to see a safe, comfortable bicycle connection the full-length of St. Bernard Avenue!
Driving, parking, and biking safely in the protected bike lanes
The temporary pop-up bike lanes on St. Bernard Avenue are known “protected bike lanes” that create a physical separation between the people riding bikes and the people driving cars. In this case, that separation is conveniently created by a row of parked cars!
For this 2-week demonstration, please drive, park, and bike according to the diagram —>
At intersections, there are green markings to designate the bike lane area, and everyone – whether driving, biking, or walking – must follow stop signs and traffic signals.
Tips for this Pop-Up:
Don’t park your car against the curb, that’s where people are supposed to be biking!
At intersections, sightlines should be good, but it may be necessary for people driving to pull out a bit further to get a good view of oncoming traffic. People biking, please be patient and observant at intersections.
Please don’t walk in the bike lane.
People biking – keep an eye out at the intersection of Marais when heading riverbound on St. Bernard. Sewerage & Water Board work has created a small disruption to lane.
As always and for all roads:
People driving should slow down around people riding bikes and yield to people biking.
People biking should ride in the direction of traffic and follow traffic rules.
Tell us what you think of the temporary protected bike lanes on St. Bernard
New Orleans’ first pop-up bikeway event is taking place on St. Bernard Ave. between St. Claude Ave. and N. Claiborne Ave. between August 1st and August 11th. This demonstration will help residents envision possibilities for city streets that are safe and accessible to all residents, including people biking, walking, and driving.
This is also a great opportunity to give Bike Easy and the City of New Orleans a better understanding of the transportation practices of the public, as well as your preferred bike infrastructure and perceptions of safety on St. Bernard Ave. Please help us in accomplishing our goal to improve New Orleans streets by taking a moment to answer the following questions. Complete anonymity will be honored. Thank you!
> If the survey doesn’t load correctly on your mobile phone, use this link instead.
Posted by Robert Henig Bell on July 20, 2017 in Advocacy
Complete Streets Summer Ambassador is an advocate for biking and walking with Girl Trek and now Bike Easy
Cassandra Roumo moved to New Orleans from Austin Texas in 2007. She is an MBA graduate and entrepreneur and has worked over 20-years in the nonprofit sector. Her community advocacy in New Orleans includes serving as the Community Engagement Fellow and member of the Leadership Team of Evacuteer.org, Board member for New Orleans Youth Education Center, Facilitator for the Anti-Defamation League “A World of Difference” and “No Place for Hate”, and Organizer, City Advocate and National Advisory Council member for GirlTrek.
Being passionate about healthy life changes made becoming an Ambassador for Complete Streets a natural fit. Her advocacy role for GirlTrek is to seek safe and accessible spaces where women and girls are able to walk and families are able enjoy healthy outdoor activity. In partnership with Bike Easy and as Ambassador of Complete Streets she is also able to participate in bringing awareness to unsafe conditions and implementing change.
Posted by Virginia Brisley on July 13, 2017 in Advocacy
Bike Easy’s Youth Ambassadors led story gathering workshops at two libraries
As part of the New Orleans Public Library’s Summer Reading Program, Bike Easy’s NCourage NOLA group facilitated two workshops to share and gather stories from their peers about getting around New Orleans.
To prepare for the workshops, NCourage NOLA decided to run 3 separate story booths. The booths were named “NOLA Reflectors” where participants shared stories about their first bike rides; “Bike Seaters” where stories were shared about biking now; and “Rocky Biking” where they shared about the challenges of getting around town by bike.
In an effort to make the workshop relevant to Bike Easy’s overall efforts for more “Streets Built to Share,” Ncourage NOLA also decided that the 3 groups of participants will be called “Streets,” “Built to,” & “Share.” After each group spent about 15 minutes at each booth, they rotated to the next booth.
NCourage NOLA heard from over a dozen of their peers who shared different stories about their experience of riding bikes in New Orleans. They heard about the excitement and joy from first bike rides,
their current fears of turning vehicles that don’t signal, feelings of freedom from being able to get around town on bikes, and also learned where in New Orleans their peers think the biggest improvements are needed for people walking and biking – i.e. Canal St!
These workshops were designed and led completely by youth to encourage more young people to think about how to improve transportation in their city. Big thank yous are due to the Teen Zone at the Main Branch Library and Milton H. Latter Memorial Library.
Bike Easy Instructors, David & Laura, led bike classes for campers at ISL Olivier Campus in June
League Cycling Instructor and regular bike rider, Lauren Nagel, prioritized bike activities for the campers at ISL-Olivier this summer. As site director, Lauren worked closely with Bike Easy to ensure 3-5th graders had a chance to ride safely through Algiers Point during camp. Lauren shares her reflections below:
“Kids love bicycling because they get to be in charge of their movement through their environment, they feel free, its good for them and its good for the planet. Bicycling is super empowering!
“Bike Easy is covering all the bases- Kids learn about the bikes, how to maintain their bikes and actually how to ride safely. Instructors taught campers the ABC Quick Check, how to fix a flat tire, how to plan a route, and how to avoid crashes. The campers rode as a group to the levee and explored the areas around campus by bike; they learned teamwork skills, confidence while riding in a group and all the basics of staying safe on their bikes. Our pictures from group rides with the campers say so much in just a few moments, but believe me, its always like this when you are exploring on your bicycle!
“I am so excited to continue bringing bicycle education to our after-school program and expand the vision of what we can do and learn. Thanks so much to Bike Easy for making our Community Works of Louisiana camp at ISL-Olivier campus a beyond-fun time!”
Posted by Chloe Anderson on June 27, 2017 in Advocacy
Summer 2017 Complete Streets Ambassadors will work to make biking more safe and accessible!
This past weekend, the summer cohort of Complete Streets Ambassadors gathered at Gretna’s Mel Ott Recreation Center on the Westbank to go through our extensive training for all things Complete Streets. These folks will be community leaders highlighting the need for safer and more accessible biking and walking over the next three months and beyond. While the training and ambassador program is in it’s fourth iteration, there was a special addition this weekend. For the first time, folks from Jefferson Parish gathered around the table along side their Orleans Parish neighbors. We are extremely excited to have community leaders focused on Jefferson Parish’s biking and walking needs. The summer cohort of Ambassadors will be working both individually and as a team to ensure that streets in their communities are built to share and lead to healthier, more equitable outcomes for all Greater New Orleans residents.
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. As a new addition to the Bike Easy staff, this was my first time sitting in on the training. It was exciting to watch complete streets veterans share ideas and knowledge with those new to the effort. And on the other hand, it was wonderful to see new perspectives and ideas brought to the conversation from our community ambassadors. The space was full of learning and discovery. I watched as folks around the table thought about their personal biking stories in a new light, discovered a knack for petition gathering, and honed their leadership skills. By the end of the weekend, the Ambassadors were itching to get started and were wondering if they could be involved for longer than our structured three months. The answer to which, by the way, is a resounding “Yes!”
The Orleans Parish and Jefferson Parish Ambassadors efforts will diverge going forward, but remain parallel. Our goals are the same throughout the region whether Central City or Lower 9, East Bank or West Bank – bringing streets built to share to all. For the next three months and beyond, Shaquita Griffin, Lillie Fleury, Cassandra Ruomo, Taylor Scheinuk, Stephen Truxillo, Roi-Lynne Hulin, John Mack III, Cheri Ben-Iesau, and Gloria Moncada will be speaking up and out about the need for complete streets in all neighborhoods of the Greater New Orleans area. They will be attending public meetings in their districts, speaking with neighborhood associations, and voicing their concerns to their elected and agency officials. While working specifically in their own neighborhoods, they’ll also come together as a team to plan and execute a larger-scale project that will bring attention to the positive health and equity outcomes that Complete Streets implementation in both parishes can bring.
We are extremely excited to have this rockstar 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 June 21, 2017 in Advocacy
Come be a part of showcasing a new vision of safely biking and walking around New Orleans
Note: Installation of the St. Bernard Avenue pop-up bike lanes is occurring Saturday, July 29 and Sunday, July 30 (you can sign up to volunteer here!). While parking will be unaffected once the lanes are installed, please heed the temporary no parking signs in place for the installation days. There may also be very minor traffic disruptions in the mornings of July 29th and 30th.
More and more people are biking in New Orleans – commuting to work and to school, meeting friends, staying healthy. But despite the progress that’s been made, we still have too few safe passageways across town. Preventable crashes are all too common. Whether we’re just beginning to ride or have been biking New Orleans streets our whole lives, we all need safe and reliable ways to get from Point A to Point B.
Beginning this summer, Bike Easy is launching a series of short-run “pop-up” projects to demonstrate how New Orleans streets can be made safe for everyone who uses them. Under the banner, #IBikeNola, with your input we will be picking streets and trouble spots to make safer in neighborhoods all across New Orleans, by turning a painted lane into a protected bikeway, adding crosswalks at a dangerous intersection, or a rest area to an empty transit stop. Each installation will last for only a matter of days or weeks. Our hope is to show what should exist so as to build support for improved biking and walking infrastructure across the city.
The first #IBikeNola installation will be a ‘pop-up’ protected bikeway on St Bernard Avenue, between Saint Claude Avenue and Claiborne Avenue. One of the most heavily biked areas in all New Orleans, protecting riders along this main thoroughfare will do much to improve safety and peace of mind for commuters from the 7th Ward, Gentilly, and neighborhoods alongside City Park and up to the lakefront and UNO. Installation is scheduled to begin the weekend of July 29th and will be open for use from July 31st – August 11th.
Bike Easy is utilizing staff, recruiting volunteers, and providing funding for this project. Help from community residents and local institutions are necessary to make it a success – canvassing neighborhood residents and businesses, collaborating on the design and art work, volunteering for installation and removal, and donating funds and/or materials are what we need to bring a vision of safe passageways to our neighborhoods. We hope you’ll be a part of this vital work!
If you’d like to help with installation (or the opening event) come to the last weekly #IBikeNola St Bernard Workshop, this Wednesday at 6pm at Sidney’s Saloon!
If you can’t make the meeting Wednesday, but would still like to help with the installation July 29th and 30th, sign up for a shift here