Second NOLA Bike to Work day set for next week

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Dr. Karen DeSalvo, the health commissioner for the city of New Orleans, tries out a cruiser bicycle at a press conference Tuesday at City Hall to promote NOLA Bike to Work Day, which will be  April 9. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Dr. Karen DeSalvo, the health commissioner for the city of New Orleans, tries out a cruiser bicycle at a press conference Tuesday at City Hall to promote NOLA Bike to Work Day, which will be April 9.

City leaders on Tuesday urged residents to leave their cars and trucks parked in the driveway for at least one day next week in favor of a healthier two-wheel option for getting to work.

The second NOLA Bike to Work Day will be held Tuesday as part of an initiative to continue to raise awareness about the benefits of bicycling.

City officials also said the day is a good way for residents to become familiar with the city’s growing miles of bicycle lanes.

Before Hurricane Katrina, there were about 11 miles of bicycle paths in the city. Today there are more than 50 miles of bicycle lanes, with more planned or under construction. Much of that work is being funded by a grant from Entergy Corp. and a partnership between the city and the Louisiana Public Health Institute.

“This is such a good example of how a public-private partnership works for something that transforms our city so dramatically,” District A Councilwoman Susan Guidry said.

District C Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer, who also serves as chairwoman of the council’s transportation committee, said that the city’s complete streets program, which ensures that roadways are built for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians, will guarantee that the bicycle lanes keep appearing.

“When we want to build equity and wealth in our neighborhoods, we need to look at transportation,” Palmer said.

Some of the latest bicycle lanes the city will see will be on Esplanade Avenue between Moss Street and Claiborne Avenue. The vehicle lanes will be too narrow to return to once ongoing roadwork is done, so the two lanes in each direction will be reduced to one, with a bicycle and parking lane making up the difference of the former travel lane.

With the new bicycle lanes in the city, the League of American Bicyclists designated New Orleans a bronze-level bike-friendly city, joining other cities such as Portland, Ore.; Boulder, Colo.; and Austin, Texas.

In 2012, the Alliance for Bicycling and Walking Benchmarking Report ranked New Orleans No. 10 in the country for the highest number of workers who commute by bicycle.

More than 500 people participated in the first NOLA Bike to Work Day last year. Organizers expect even more this year.

Anyone interested in participating is asked to register at www.bikeeasy.org.

“All you’ll need is a bicycle, and you’ll be ready to roll,” said Charles Rice, president and CEO of Entergy New Orleans.

The day begins at 7 a.m. with bicycle convoy meet ups at more than a dozen locations across the city. Those locations can be found on the website.

Once all registered participants are accounted for at the various locations, the convoys toward the Central Business District will begin about 7:30 a.m.

Between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., participants are invited to stop by Duncan Plaza across from City Hall, 1300 Perdido St., to get snacks and other giveaways. A bicycle mechanic also will be available to assist with any issues riders might face.

The day ends with a celebration from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the American Sector at the National World War II Museum, 945 Magazine St.

Beyond NOLA Bike to Work Day, city leaders hope that residents will do more cycling on a regular basis.

“It is safe and fun and great for the whole family,” said Dr. Karen DeSalvo, the city’s health commissioner.