Making it easy, safe and fun
When our children were around 4 years old, I remember spending a lot of time searching for activities to tire them out so they’d take a good nap, but also offered a safe place for them to have freedom from the triple jogging stroller they seemed to live in. My dreams were answered when the three proclaimed they’d like to learn how to ride bicycles. Lugging the tiny bicycles and helmets to Audubon Park was well worth it once I realized they could ride blissfully for hours – but getting to that point took more time and patience than I imagined. Once they’d graduated from riding in the grassy fields, they ventured onto the bicycle path and boy, was that terrifying. I still feel awful about the lady one of my boys crashed into while swerving aimlessly along. Their skills eventually improved, but what stuck with me was the undeniable lesson that learning the joys of biking only happens with education and teamwork.
Bicycling in New Orleans hasn’t always been very safe or accessible. However, in recent years it’s hard not to notice new bike lanes, bike routes – like the Lafitte Greenway – and over 600 “Blue Bikes” stations around town. In 2003, well before the emergence of these bicycling enhancements, nonprofit Bike Easy was formed by friends and bicycling enthusiasts who aimed to make “bicycling easy, safe and fun for everyone in Greater New Orleans.” Now in their 15th year, it’s evident that while Bike Easy has contributed greatly to safer bicycling, the organization has goals to inspire an even greater impact through continued focus on three key strategies: education, community and advocacy.
With the tremendous increase of bicyclists in New Orleans, Bike Easy believes it’s imperative bicyclists of all ages and abilities have access to education and safety programming. Their education programs aim to empower all people – bikers, walkers and drivers – through learning the rules of the road, skills for riding in traffic, how to maneuver the new bike lines around town, tips for walking around New Orleans and more. Each year Bike Easy conducts over 75 community education events in schools and neighborhoods led by trained League Cycling Instructors and hopes to complete education programs annually with all fourth graders in New Orleans public schools.
Bike Easy is also bringing people together by organizing a variety of community building and social programs including signature events, like the annual Bike To Work Day and Bike Easy Challenge. With 650 current members and a goal to reach 1,000 this year, Bike Easy depends on its public volunteer support financially, but also to conduct its important advocacy work. Focusing on building grassroots power to influence policy and budgeting for bicycling at the city, state and federal level, Bike Easy is making our streets safer to share.
Executive Director Dan Favre explains, “Here at Bike Easy, we believe in the power of bicycling to help create a healthy, prosperous, resilient and equitable future for all people in Greater New Orleans. We love to share the joy of bicycling with everyone and aim to make it an easy choice for transportation and recreation. We also know that streets safe for bicycling are safe for walking and vice versa. We look forward to the day when people of all ages and abilities throughout the region can bike, walk and transit safely and comfortably.”
A little more …
Visit BikeEasy.com for information on becoming a Bike Easy Member or how to join the Bike Easy Second Line May 20, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.