Moonlight biking in Gentilly: Annette Sisco’s “Only in New Orleans” column, March 28, 2013

By Annette Sisco

Community news editor

You may have noticed that when roads are rebuilt in New Orleans these days, they often include striping and icons setting aside a path for bicycles. Whereas before Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans had approximately 11 miles of bicycle paths, the city now has more than 50 miles’ worth, according to Bike Easy, a group dedicated to two-wheeled transport in the Crescent City.

Bike paths are part of a program called Complete Streets, which also includes sidewalks, handicapped access and a general philosophy that roads are for all travelers, not just those in cars.

Meanwhile, bike tours, rentals and other events are becoming ever more popular. One such event is the annual Crescent City Moonlight Bike Ride, sponsored this year by the Gentilly Civic Improvement Association and set to push off at 7 p.m. Friday from Pontchartrain Landing, 6001 France St., on the Industrial Canal. Register at 6:30 p.m.

The moon is just a hair away from being full that night, organizer Nick Kindel said. Riders will pedal along Lakeshore Drive, turn around near Landry’s Seafood and return to Pontchartrain Landing, Kindel said.

A police escort is planned. The round trip is about eight easy miles.

“It’s a relaxed bike ride. It’s not like a race. It’s meant for your average bike rider,” Kindel said.

Families are encouraged to ride together. Before the race, Bike Easy will offer a safety workshop, Kindel said, ideal for youngsters who might just be learning the rules of the road.

Afterward, riders can stick around for some live music and refreshments at Pontchartrain Landing.

Dalton Savwoir, president of the GCIA, will bike alongside his wife, Nadine Rachal. The GCIA adopted the moonlight cruise “to celebrate spring. To have a fun activity for the community to join, for families to join,” he said.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children ($25 per adult and $15 per child on Friday). The registration fee includes a T-shirt, water and snacks. Proceeds help support the GCIA, which represents 20 neighborhood associations in Gentilly, Savwoir said.

Every bike must have a light in order to ride after dark. Helmets are encouraged. If you don’t have a light, no worries; Bike Easy will be selling them before the ride. Call Kindel at (504) 267-4665.

Bike to Work Day April 9

Now that you’ve got your tires aired up and your helmet adjusted, Bike Easy wants you to try using your bike for commuting.

NOLA Bike to Work Day on April 9 makes it inviting, by organizing spots where new riders can meet up with experienced bikers to pedal to the CBD together, leaving at 7:30 a.m.

In the evening, everyone can give themselves a pat on the back for being eco-friendly and healthy with a party at the World War II Museum from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Bike to Work Day is free. For more information, visit http://tinyurl.com/d7rz994.

Annette Sisco is community news editor. She can be reached at (504) 432-9257 or asisco@theadvocate.com.