Bike to Work Day, now in its fourth year, has been a staple of the growing cyclist and alternative transportation movement that continues to find its legs in New Orleans. This year, from April 13-17, local cycling advocacy group Bike Easy is turning a single day into an entire work week, with cycling challenges, events, a happy hour and a community forum it hopes will continue to promote the ever-growing popularity of two-wheel motion.
Anneka Olson, Bike Easy's Community Education Manager, says the decision came from the organization's ambition to make the event even bigger than it has been in years past. "We've been able to grow every year," she says. "Last year we had over 750 riders participate, and we wanted to think more strategically about how we could continue to grow those numbers in a dramatic way. We thought that having these other events would make it possible for more people to participate."
Fear not: Bike to Work Day still exists, and it's April 15. This year, like last, riders can meet up for free coffee at designated meet-ups (exact addresses below the jump) in Algiers, Broadmoor, Gentilly, Mid-City and Uptown at 7 a.m. All of the neighborhood meet up trains will make their way to Lafayette Square, where Bike Easy, with the help of Bike to Work week sponsor Entergy, will serve free coffee and breakfast to participants from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
[jump] On Tuesday, April 14, Bike Easy will host Let's Roll, a community forum on the state of cycling in New Orleans, from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Sojourner Truth Neighborhood Center (2200 Lafitte Ave.). That forum will be led by Sophie Harris, the executive director of Friends of the Lafitte Greenway. Then, on Thursday, there's a happy hour organized in conjunction with NOLA Social Ride at Grand Isle Restaurant (575 Convention Center Blvd.) from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. There will be half-off well drinks, snacks and access to a full menu.
"We're really excited about Grand Isle because it's a really nice space, but they also have a lot of employees who bike," Olson says. "We connected with their events manager (Lyn Morein), who is a very committed bicycle advocate and she's a participant in NOLA Social Ride. We really wanted to point out that it's not just about biking to work, but it's also about biking to social events and for recreational and social reasons."
Aside from daily and nightly events, Bike Easy will be reaching out to and recognizing businesses making an effort to get more of their employees traveling by bike throughout the week. Employees and self-designated team captains can log workplace miles for the Bicycle Commute Challenge and win prizes for their achievements. Click here to sign up, either as a business representative or as a captain.
Olson says it's not about getting businesses to compete against one another, but rather to recognize those businesses that have high participation in Bike to Work Week.
Bike Easy will also be handing out free bike lights provided by sponsor NiteRider Bike Lights at secret locations throughout the week. Clues will be hinted at on the organization's social media pages. (The Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/BikeEasy and the Twitter handle is @BikeEasy.)
All Bike to Work Week events are free and open to the public, but Bike Easy does ask participants to register online beforehand. You can do that here.
It's not just about biking to work one day, but instead looking at a given time frame, in this case one week, and challenging yourself to ride as much as possible during that week," says Olson. "So you're basically receiving support and encouragement and incentives to ride the entire week. So, if it rains one day, people can still ride for the other days of the week."
Algiers: Algiers Ferry Landing
Broadmoor: Laurel Street Bakery, 2701 S. Broad St.
Gentilly: Daddy's Donuts, 2051 Caton St.
Mid-City: Orleans Avenue at Bayou St. John
Uptown: Whole Foods Market, 5600 Magazine St.