Bike Easy’s COVID-19 Response
A Special Update from the Executive Director
What strange and stressful days.
I hope you are hanging in there alright during these harrowing circumstances of the COVID-19 outbreak. The entire Bike Easy family extends our well wishes and support to you and yours.
In times of uncertainty and rapid changes, Bike Easy relies on our values and long-term vision for the region to guide our decision-making. Bike Easy believes in the power of bicycling to help create a healthy, prosperous, resilient, and equitable future for all people of the region. While we know that biking can play a positive role right now, it goes without saying that this moment is so much bigger than biking. Community and global health is the priority.
You probably don’t need to hear this from me too, but please follow health experts advice to regularly wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, stay home if you’re feeling sick, cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow, and practice social distancing to stop the spread of this dangerous virus. The Centers for Disease Control have set up a dedicated website with more information, and the City of New Orleans NOLA Ready website has an excellent listing of up-to-date, local resources. Additionally, we found this article particularly helpful for bicycling specific tips.
Even if you are healthy and at less risk personally, please practice social distancing and these other behaviors to help protect our entire community. Along with the increased danger to people over 65 and with underlying health conditions, this virus and the necessary responses will most deeply impact those who are more socially vulnerable, including low-income and communities of color. We must all play our part to flatten the curve.
To help stop community spread, and for the health of our staff, board, and volunteers, Bike Easy is following the recommendations of health experts regarding our own operations. Over the past few days, we have implemented the following policies:
- All Bike Easy staff and contractors are working from home and the office is closed until further notice;
- No one will participate in any public events on behalf of Bike Easy until at least April 13 (following Governor John Bel Edwards proclamations for closing schools, bars, and restaurants);
- No one will participate in any public events with over 50 people on behalf of Bike Easy until at least May 11 (following CDC recommendations).
Of course, this will have a tremendous impact on our work and on our ability to serve and support the bike community. We are working hard to reconfigure strategies, and we intend to remain as deeply engaged as ever in our work to make bicycling easy, safe, and fun for everyone in Greater New Orleans. As COVID-19 disrupts our economy and transit system, biking will become an even more important transportation option for many people in Greater New Orleans. And biking remains a great way to relieve stress, stay healthy, and get outside safely.
First, the bad news:
- All Bike Easy in-person education events until at least April 13th are cancelled or postponed. We’re incredibly bummed as we had an amazing array of activities scheduled for y’all. Stay tuned for upcoming info about virtual classes and events.
- All Bike Valet events for the spring are cancelled (as are all the events you would have normally biked to). We’ll be working with organizers to be at rescheduled events.
- Bike to Work Day and Bike to Worship Weekend are postponed. Stay tuned for more info and new dates, likely in the fall.
- All in-person activities for the Bike Easy April Challenge are cancelled, but please still register! We are working to ensure the online competition component can run as normal next month.
- All in-person outreach work with the New Orleans Complete Streets Coalition, like door-to-door canvassing and tabling at events, is postponed until further notice.
- The Spring Bicycle Second Line, originally scheduled for May 24th, is postponed until the fall. The new date and details will be released in coming months.
Now, the somewhat-better news:
- Biking is still an enjoyable and important activity. At this point, going for solo bike rides or rides in small groups while maintaining at least 6 feet of distance from others is still okay. The physical activity from biking is an important way to relieve stress, boost immunity, and take a break from working at home all day. Check out this great article from bicycling.com for tips on how to stay safe and healthy on your rides.
- We’re still at it! The board and staff of Bike Easy are quickly shifting workplans and efforts to continue being a positive force in these difficult times, whether that’s through bike-related work or other activities.
- The show goes on…virtually! We’ve already moved our staff and board meetings to ZOOM, and we’re working diligently to offer more of our educational and social activities in an online space. While it wasn’t the same as being in the office, it certainly felt good to see the faces of all our staff together on the screen yesterday.
- May is still Membership Month. Like so many, our organization has entered a time of financial uncertainty. We’re lucky to have built up a small rainy day fund, but we’ll soon feel the hit of lost opportunities this spring. Your support is more important than ever.
In the nearly 14 years that I’ve lived in New Orleans, biking has played a large role in building my community, from organizing alleycats back in 2007-2008 to leading Bike Easy since 2015. I’m incredibly grateful for that and for all of you. As we all continue to adapt, respond, and eventually recover from the impacts of this outbreak, I, and everyone at Bike Easy, remain committed to ensuring biking plays a role in contributing to bigger-picture improvements for health, equity, economy, and quality-of-life for the Greater New Orleans community.