Biking to work isn’t just fun, it’s progress.
This is the 10th year that we’ve partnered with Entergy to host Bike to Work Day. Usually, we all ride our bikes to Duncan Plaza and celebrate our commute in the most New Orleans way: with food and friends.
Each year, the number of people commuting with us grows and so do the number of bikeways in New Orleans. And if it weren’t for the pandemic, I believe that this year would’ve been the biggest Bike to Work Day with the most exciting updates to our bikeway network we’ve ever heard.
It’s no coincidence that the number of commuters and bikeways grow together. The more people who bike to work, the more that the City feels the urgency to build protected bikeways, which then encourages more people to bike to work. 10 years ago, we launched Bike to Work Day in New Orleans with Entergy to jumpstart this cycle, and the momentum has kept growing.
While we’re not hosting our usual celebration, on Monday, April 26th at 1:30pm, we’re hosting a Bike to Work Day press conference with Mayor LaToya Cantrell in front of City Hall to promote biking to work as well as the Moving New Orleans Bikes initiative that is the process of rapidly adding 75 miles of protected and low-stress bikeways to the City’s network.
I looked back at footage from our very first Bike to Work Day in 2012 (that’s where this photo is from). Then Mayor Mitch Landrieu joined us to celebrate New Orleans’ 50 miles of bikeways (mostly unprotected) and the 20 more miles they had planned for construction. Considering New Orleans’ first bike lane was painted on St. Claude in 2008, this was a historic achievement.
Ten years later, I’m proud to say we have left those benchmarks in the dust. Best practices have also evolved over the last decade, and we’re glad to see a shift away from shared lane markings on busy streets and skinny door-zone bike lanes. When it comes to making biking easy, safe, and fun for everyone, the quality of bike infrastructure matters.
New Orleans now has over 100 miles of bikeways, with promises to add 50 more miles of protected and low-stress bikeways to the network just this year. To experience this progress yourself ride down Elysian Fields by the river, or cruise through Algiers on 10 miles of newly built protected bikeways. It’s accomplishments like these that placed New Orleans as the American city with the 5th most bike commuters per capita in 2019.
This past pandemic year, the number of people biking in New Orleans significantly increased (by 255% on the Wisner Trail!), even though less people were biking to work. Pretty soon, life will start returning to the new normal, and more people will commute to their workplace. In this new normal, the benefits of more people biking will continue to make our region an even better place to live. So, let’s make sure we keep biking, whether that’s to work, to a friend’s house, or to the river to watch the sunset.
Of course, biking is fun, but it’s also how we’re going to keep pedaling forward on the path of progress. If we keep it up, we’ll leave this year’s benchmarks in the dust and make next year’s Bike to Work Day an unforgettable festival.
See you on the streets, and don’t forget to log your miles for the Bike Easy April Challenge.