New Orleans rivals and surpasses other American cities in so many ways. Music first comes to mind — oh, to be the birthplace of Jazz — but there’s also the city’s French and Spanish Creole architecture, its cross-cultural and multilingual heritage, cuisine, annual celebrations such as the colorful, magical Mardi Gras.
New Orleans also deserves praise for propelling itself so rapidly ahead in terms of transport — doing what it takes other cities many years to do. Streetsblog points out what New Orleans has done since 2012: “About one in 30 local residents now gets to work by bike, double the rate from 2007 and sixth highest rate among large US cities, right between Seattle and Oakland.”
Amid the chaos of other parts of the country, New Orleans has quietly risen to a prime position in the US bicycling world. “Almost without the rest of the country noticing, the Big Easy has rapidly become one of the nation’s leading cities for bike transportation.”
Perhaps the key is that New Orleans is no longer sluggish in supporting bike infrastructure. Streetsblog quotes New Orleans active transportation project manager Jennifer Ruley:
“Even if you look back at our historical commute data, New Orleans has always had a higher than the national average commute to work by bike,” Ruley said. “We’re kind of the opposite of many cities that invested heavily in bike infrastructure and then saw that growth happen.”
Presently, the city is focusing on directly planning a connected, all-ages network through an area where many people are already biking. “It’d give the city one of the country’s first well-connected low-stress biking networks.”
Nola has a lovely story on the recent Bike to Work Day in the city.
Organizations in New Orleans such as Bike Easy have sparked community exchange, advocacy, bicycle culture, and work towards zero bicycle deaths with events that help get people riding. (By the way, take the time to check the basics of safe commuting by bicycle.)
New Orleans has by far the most expensive auto parking in the Southeast, which may be a key reason bicycle commuting is so much higher there.
“Tourists themselves also have plenty of biking potential. A 700-bicycle sharing system is set to launch this fall. By helping connect some of its millions of visitors with bikes, and then building comfortable bikeways to elsewhere, the city is hoping to give them — and their $7 billion in annual spending — rewarding experiences.”
Streetsblog continues: “This is fifth in a series of profiles of the 10 focus areas in the PeopleForBikes Big Jump Project — districts that are planning to quickly install some of the country’s first fully connected all-ages biking networks over the next three years.”