The Blue Bikes staff is ramping up, 6 demonstration bikes are in New Orleans, the warehouse is getting set up, the first shipping container full of bikes is on its way, and the system will be up and running by September 1st with 500 e-assist Blue Bikes!
Blue Bikes will soon be rolling once again in the streets of New Orleans!
Blue Bikes are a healthy, equitable, and environmentally-friendly transportation option, and Bike Easy is thrilled to see them returning to the streets of New Orleans. The new governance model – being run by a local non-profit instead of an out-of-state corporation – will ensure the system is designed to work for, and stay in, New Orleans. The focus on equity will mean that Blue Bikes is a system that works for everyone, and especially the many people in New Orleans who have historically lacked transportation options.
Bike Easy has always focused on advocating for an equitable bikeshare system for New Orleans. Back with “Blue Bikes 1.0”, Bike Easy spearheaded and partnered with the former operators to create, promote, and expand the Blue Bikes for All program and to tell the stories of the many residents who came to rely on access to bikeshare for getting to work, the store, the park, and health care. Check out the video of Ryne from back in 2019!
Today, we’re pleased to see the ways that Blue Bikes will further equity in this next phase:
- Return of the Blue Bikes for All program, providing steeply discounted passes for individuals who qualify for Medicaid or S/NAP benefits;
- A focus on servicing areas identified in the City of New Orleans’ Bicycle Equity Index (primarily low-income and communities of color with low car ownership rates) and connecting the neighborhoods to job centers and amenities;
- Living wages and commitment to building a staff that is reflective of local demographics; and
- Dedicated outreach – and specific metrics to measure progress – that will ensure residents who are people of color, from low-wealth families, work in the service & hospitality industry, and/or lack access to other transportation options can easily and comfortably use the Blue Bikes system.
Of course, there is more that can be done, and more that will be done, to continue progress towards ensuring the Blue Bikes system is a viable option for everyone who needs it, and Bike Easy is excited to continue working with Blue Bikes to realize those possibilities.
In New Orleans, our unique neighborhood geography means that the bikes that service traditionally underserved neighborhoods – like Central City, St. Thomas, and parts of the 7th Ward – and connect people there to job centers in the CBD and French Quarter will also be available and used by tourists. The system is built for residents, and it also works for visitors. It’s a happy circumstance – the folks visiting will pay more for their ride to a restaurant or tourist activity, which allows the bikeshare system to remain financially viable while providing affordable, reduced-fare access to residents who need it. That is one way Blue Bikes is operationalizing equity.
Along with providing transportation options for those that need them most, we love that Blue Bikes makes biking accessible to folks who may otherwise opt for driving or other ways of getting around. By greatly reducing the barrier to entry for people to hop on a bike, more folks can (re)discover the joys of biking. Without needing to buy and maintain their own bike, someone curious about working more biking into their routine can easily give it a low-stakes shot – whether it’s for transportation, health, recreation, or just random fun.
The e-assist element of the new Blue Bikes opens the possibility of biking to an even wider spectrum of potential riders. The new Blue Bikes are one-speed. The e-assist stops helping at around 16 miles per hour, and it’s easy to maintain pace at slower speeds. This all makes for an easy ride, even for beginners. Rather than debating the difference in health benefits between traditional bikes and e-assist bikes, we focus on the difference between e-assist bikes and sitting in a car. With the ease (and relative lack of sweat 🙂 that comes with e-assist, we think more people will be excited to try biking!
As the world is re-emerging after the pandemic, the need for bikeshare is becoming even more apparent, and we’ve been hearing from lots of people wondering about when it’s coming back. The short one-way trips – from the bus stop to the workplace, going back home from the friend’s house you took a Lyft to, getting across town for lunch without worrying about parking, etc – will soon be made easy with Blue Bikes.
As you can see in this post, we’re getting close to having bikeshare back in New Orleans, and our excitement at Bike Easy is rising. Keep an eye out for more details soon!
In the meantime, to learn more and try one of the new bikes, there are opportunities to meet up with representatives of Blue Bikes in coming weeks:
Dan Favre, the author, is Executive Director of Bike Easy and a member of the board of directors of Blue Krewe, the new local non-profit dedicated to bringing bike share back to the region.