• ,

Event Preview: NOLA Bike to Work Week & Community Forum

 

NOLA Bike to Work Week includes a cycling secondline on Friday, April 17. (Photo: Bike Easy Facebook)

NOLA Bike to Work Week includes a cycling secondline on Friday, April 17. (Photo: Bike Easy Facebook)

Event update: Due to rain, NOLA Bike to Work Week events originally scheduled for April 14 - 16 have been postponed until next week. The updated schedule is as follows: 

Tuesday, April 21 - Let's Roll: Community Forum on the Future of Biking in New Orleans - Sojourner Truth Neighborhood Center (2200 Lafitte St) 7:30-9:00 p.m.

Wednesday, April 22 - NOLA Bike to Work Day (Neighborhood Meetups 7:00-7:30 a.m.; Central Meetup with breakfast in Lafayette Square 7:30-9:30 a.m.)

Thursday, April 23: NOLA Bike to Work Week Happy Hour Celebration, at which bike commute challenge winners will be announced - Grand Isle Restaurant (575 Convention Center Blvd) 4:30-7:30 p.m. 

The number of statistics that tout New Orleans as one of the nation’s top cycling cities is impressive; just last year we became a Silver-level bicycle-friendly community, a designation of the League of American Bicyclists. In 2013, we surpassed several other cities with bike-friendly reputations, claiming the #5 spot on the list of cities with the highest share of bike commuters, with 3.6% of folks commuting daily by bike.

But perhaps more impressive is NOLA's relative increase in cycling.  The city's infrastructural bike network has grown from fewer than 11 miles of city bikeways in 2005 to almost 100 bikeways -- a mile marker we hope to pass later this year. And from 2000 to 2013, New Orleans experienced a 208% bicycle commuting volume increase.

Some aspect of NOLA's city's pro-bike push must be working.

Nonetheless, this tremendous growth in Nola's bike community doesn’t necessarily mean things are perfect for city cycling -- potholes, bike lanes that end abruptly, and distracted drivers (to name a few) still plague bike commuters making their daily trips to work throughout the GNO. Thus, these days, the question becomes: How do we continue to balance the city's bicycling momentum with safe inititives while still making New Orleans a rider-accessible and world-class bicycling city.

Let’s Roll: The Future of Bicycling in New Orleans is a community forum for members of the bicycling community that seeks to address this very question.

Beginning with a panel of local experts, the event will account for the policy and community efforts that have resulted in the current bikeway network; it will also begin to chart some of the big ideas that will contribute to making New Orleans a more bike-friendly city. Following the panel, participants will have an opportunity to break in to small group discussions and generate ideas of their own. Community priorities and ideas will be recorded by local bike advocacy group Bike Easy in order to integrate these concepts into the organization's policy and advocacy work throughout 2015.

The event is part of NOLA Bike to Work Week --  a week of events dedicated to making biking to work easier for the GNO, providing support and incentives for new riders, and generating new ways to recognize and thank local cyclists for commuting year-round.

NOLA Bike to Work panelists range from local mobility experts (Rachel Heiligman of RIDE New Orleans, a public transit advocacy group) to a local doctor specializing in preventative health and active lifestyles, Doctor Eric Griggs. Charlie Thomas of Bike Law Louisiana -- one of the event’s presenting sponsors -- will be on hand to offer his expertise on the importance of safety for all roadway users, and Jennifer Ruley, a Civil Engineer with the Louisiana Public Health Institute, will discuss the policies that have contributed to our extensive network of bike lanes. And highlighting the exciting addition of the Lafitte Greenway to our bikeway network, the panel will be moderated by Sophie Harris of Friends of the Lafitte Corridor.

Presented by Entergy for the fourth year in a row, NOLA Bike to Work Week showcases the growth in NOLA's bicycle infrastructure improvements with an annual breakfast in Lafayette Square, a week-long Bicycle Commute Challenge, and a happy hour event at Grand Isle Restaurant. The Let's Roll: community forum is a new addition this year, with Bike Law Louisiana providing support for policy initiatives that promote safety City-wide. Also new this year, with support from US Manufacturing company NiteRider,  are daily Bike Light Giveaways at secret locations around the City (Bike Easy will keep participants updated on the exact locations through  Facebook and Twitter).

Whether you’re a daily commuter, recreational weekend rider, or just want to be able to bike to the store around the corner,the event is a great opportunity to participate in a larger conversation about the future of bicycling in NOLA and how transportation choices can enhance the quality of life in our city. See you there!

For more information and a full schedule of Bike to Work Week Events, visit and register at www.bikeeasy.org.

This article is part of  THE HUB, a collaborative space for bike enthusiasts of every type -- from racers to tricksters, explorers to commuters. As new cycling-oriented events and issues arise in NOLA, HUB contributors take the mic and talk bike on NolaVie. Here you'll get information on events, new stylings, local biker profiles, and commentary on the two-wheel life.

Anneka Olson is a bicycle advocate, mechanic and commuter.  In her capacity as Community Education Manager at local bicycle advocacy organization Bike Easy, she gets to work with people of all ages to educate them to be safer, smarter and more confident bicyclists.