Last week the Bike Easy staff went on retreat for some team building and year ahead planning. It was only my second week of work with the organization, but right away felt so welcomed by everyone and really fired up about the work. Thanks to the generosity of a former board member, we had lots of space at a camp in Lacombe to spread out programming materials, stations for group activities, and many many snacks. The theme of the two day trip was cohesion. Through the thoughtful visioning exercises to get us to go deeper into our values, think big picture about our calendars, and really connect as teammates with the same goals, I really felt the group and the ideas coming together.
It can be difficult in any type of work to take a step back and really appreciate how far you’ve come while gearing up to take the mission even further. I have always felt that Bike Easy is an organization that uses a range of creative approaches to promote safer and better biking in New Orleans. On the retreat, I got to see the thoughtfulness that goes into all those approaches, whether it was David mapping out all the different bike valet opportunities throughout the year or Laura dreaming big about starting a Bike Clubs for little kids through their schools. 2020 is going to be a time of big changes to the infrastructure of Greater New Orleans as more protected bike lanes are built and roadways are reconfigured to make biking, walking, and driving less stressful for everyone using the streets. As a looong time cyclist I feel so excited to be a part of this work and with such a dedicated group of people.
The best part of the time on the North Shore was the mandatory fun on Wednesday morning: a lovely, relaxed group bike ride on the Tammany Trace. Rolling along on a paved, protected, 31 miles of bike trail through the woods, I found myself reflecting on how far New Orleans has come with its bike lanes, thinking back to the years before there were stripes on St. Claude Ave., Broad Street, or Esplanade Ave. Since then, Bike Easy has shown a commitment to its members, a focus on equity, and taken innovative steps to further its mission- and the region is much better for it. After this retreat I feel more ready than ever to put those values into action with my new team and the passionate members of the New Orleans biking community.