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Cycling the Crescent City: Happy New Year from the Department of Public Works

Local Bike Easy awards were announced in December.

At Bike Easy’s annual member appreciation Holiday Party held earlier in December at Café Istanbul, the City of New Orleans’ Department of Public Works (DPW) was one of three recipients honored with Bike Easy’s Award of Recognition for 2012.

In spite of recent protests over what was seen as an insufficient restriping plan during the recent Decatur Street repaving project, the DPW’s efforts leading to the institution of the “Complete Streets” policy early in the year and subsequent hard work to implement that policy demonstrated a strong commitment to making cycling easier, safer, and more approachable to new riders within the city.

DPW Director Mark Jernigan, PE, PMP, Lt. Col. (Ret) was present to receive the award on the Department’s behalf, along with Construction Projects Manager Louis Haywood, whose acceptance speech pleasantly surprised those in attendance by including a previously undisclosed listing of all new DPW bicycle infrastructure developments slated for 2013.

Below is the list of projects on the docket for the coming year as announced by Haywood and later confirmed by the Mayor’s Office:

  • Road Diet* on Gentilly Blvd. between N. Broad St. and Paris Ave. (DPW will have to revise the striping on the concrete section between I-610 and New Orleans St.)
  • Road Diet on Nashville Ave. between S. Claiborne Ave. & Fontainebleau Dr.
  • Road Diet on Esplanade Ave. from N. Claiborne Ave. to City Park
  • Bike lanes between S. Carrollton Ave. and Nashville Ave. on St. Charles Ave. are slated to start in the next couple of months
  • Bike lanes on Basin St. between approximately Canal St. and N. Villere St. (shared from N. Villere St. to Orleans Ave. to connect with existing shared lanes)
  • Bike lanes on Franklin Ave. between Gentilly Blvd. and Filmore Ave.
  • Bike lanes on Filmore Ave. between Wisner Blvd. and Marconi Dr. and between West End Blvd. and Milne Blvd.
  • Shared lanes on Filmore Ave. between Milne Blvd. and Canal Blvd.
  • Bike lanes (not shared) on St. Bernard Ave. between McShane Pl. and Sere St.

*A Road Diet (highly technical terminology) is urban planner jargon for a motor-vehicle lane reduction that allows for new uses and treatments that encourage active forms of transportation such as cycling and walking.

The planned work will connect existing bicycle infrastructure and continue to build a more cohesive and “complete” transportation network within the region -- not a bad way to start the year for the cycling community.

In addition to the DPW, two other recipients of the Bike Easy Award for 2012, Regional Planning Commission Senior Planner/Bike Easy Founder Karen Parsons and local pedicab driver/volunteer-extraordinaire Ross Peizer, were honored for their unrelenting service to the local cycling community.

The festivities did not solely consist of award ceremonies. Throughout the evening, Bike Easy members and guests sipped on beverages provided by New Orleans Rum as they posed for the Deep Fried Photo booth and entered to win door prizes (not the kind where a cyclist strikes an unwitting motorist’s suddenly open car door).

Many great prizes were up for grabs, but the piece de resistance was undoubtedly the new bike donated by Massey’s Outfitters. So, when the time finally came to announce the winner, hopeful audience members listened intently.

There could only be one winner, though. In a poignant demonstration of one of the season’s most important messages – give and you shall receive -- none other than Louis Haywood took home the bike.  He fittingly dubbed it his “Bike Lane Bike” -- not a bad way to start off the year for him, either.

Happy New Year.

M.T. Hinson covers the cycling community in New Orleans for NolaVie.