Bicycles are a fun, inexpensive, and practical form of locomotion, given the weather, of course, which isn’t always the best along the Gulf Coast. But, when it is, it’s also great exercise to boot. New Orleans in particular is a bit schizophrenic for bicyclists. There is very little in the way of grading (other than near the levees or over bridges), but to counter that is an antagonistic population of motor vehicle drivers and hellacious potholes to dodge. This, nevertheless, still doesn’t daunt people from bicycling in the city proper (the suburbs are not non-automobile friendly, for the most part), often as their primary form of transportation, be it due to cost, convenience, or health. In fact, numerous studies have put NOLA in the top echelon of bike and pedestrian friendly cities. Heck, Bicycling.com ranks the city in the top 50! Not sure if a city could ask for much more (other than a higher ranking). To make riding through the city less of a pain in the butt (literally), the NOLA Cycle Bike Map Project has even thrown together a map, which is regularly being updated.
How does one start if they’re interested in cycling but haven’t done so recently? Well, you could always go dumpster diving for a junked bike, or scour through Craigslist (which has scored me and the missus most of ours), or you could go to a place like Plan B (no, this has nothing to do with birth control), which sells used bikes and parts as well as helps people build/rebuild old bikes (for cost of parts only, or trade for volunteer work), or have a custom-made bike from a place like Dio Bikes.
Okay, warts and all, one can see that NOLA is a biker’s town. It’s great if you decide to bike to work on good weather days (or even every day for some of ya’ll), but what about the biking community? Well, I’ve recently been exposed (in a good way, mind you) to the NOLA Social Ride, a group of bicyclists who get together every week to ride and (obviously) socialize. Of course, they aren’t the only game in town, just a group with which I am acquainted.
So, get out there and go riding! There are a lot of neat places you’re probably missing by driving past, and everyone could use a little more exercise. I’ll see you on the road. Look for the most jalopy frankenbike you’ve ever seen!