Jun 032011
 

Christy Lorio

There is something special about biking around town that makes you feel more connected to the city than if you were commuting in a car. I bike to work most days and to anyone new in town, my immediate question is, “Did you buy a bike yet?”

Here in New Orleans a bike equals freedom. No parking, no paying for gas and minimal costs for repairs means this is an economical way to get around town.  Aside from the health benefits of getting a workout it is also a fun way to get to know the city in a more intimate way. I have a car but my preferred method of transportation is my mountain bike. I love varying my route to work and serendipitously stumbling upon an interesting sculpture in someone’s front yard or noticing a new sandwich shop for the first time.

That said, if you aren’t sightseeing and just need to get somewhere fast, knowing which streets to take is helpful, especially if you prefer a bump-free ride. When heading from the University area to the Garden District, try taking smoother streets such as Dryades, Carondelet, or Laurel. Camp is good, but unless you have a bike with suspension, it is a bumpy ride. Avoid riding down busy streets such as St. Charles Avenue and even Prytania, and look for streets thoroughfares with bike lanes such as Carrollton Avenue.

Summer N., sales and marketing manager of the Creole Cottage, is a new bike enthusiast who is slowly learning how to reap the benefits of two wheels. Her reasons for starting were simple. “I needed to get some exercise in. I am what you call the ‘lazy’ workout person. I would drive to Audubon to run, but at times when I didn’t feel like driving that way, I would skip out on a workout.  Biking to work forces me to get some element of daily exercise in.” She opted for a cruiser for her first bicycle but plans on upgrading to a hybrid once she gets the hang of it.

While her main safety concerns are crossing busy intersections, she also worries about her ride getting stolen, which is something that worries many pedaling commuters. Parking in a heavy foot traffic area and investing in a quality lock are two ways to squelch this fear. Another fear for many cyclists is getting hit by a car. Taking less-traveled side streets is a smart choice, and always wear reflective clothing and make sure your bike is well lit at night.

Biking is really enjoyable and New Orleans is the perfect city to get around, especially when the weather is nice. As long as you have a solid plan in place and aren’t afraid of a little sweat you’re in for a nice ride.

Handy resources:

Christy Lorio, a native New Orleanian, writes on fashion at slowsouthernstyle.com and is also a freelance writer whose work has been featured online and in print magazines both locally and nationally.

  5 Responses to “Christy Lorio: Did you buy a bike yet?”

  1. I bike casually for recreation and I’ll tell you – whether I am traveling by car or on bike, bicyclists around here need some serious intensive training that yes, the traffic rules *do* apply to you even when you’re on a bike. Stop at stop signs. Give folks a clue if you’re turning. Don’t run red lights. Don’t ride three abreast. I actually was almost in a collision with a fellow bicyclist – who then cursed at me – when she almost hit me while listening to her iPod and running a stop sign. She actually yelled at me to inquire why I didn’t stop *for her*.

    Sharing the road means obeying traffic rules no matter how many wheels you’re on.

  2. I love it that we’re becoming a more bike-friendly city, but I totally agree with Lisa. The cyclists in this town do not follow ANY traffic laws whatsoever. They run stop signs and red lights, they ride the wrong way down one-way streets or on the wrong side of two-way streets, and most of them do not have bells to let you know they’re coming, do not make turning signals, and don’t have lights or reflective clothing or devices at night. I walk a lot. I nearly get hit by a cyclist at least once a week, and like Lisa, I’m the one that gets yelled at! Like I said, I love it that there are more cyclists on the streets and that we’re becoming a bike-friendly city, but the cyclists here MUST learn that the rules DO apply to them!

  3. I am a testament to the traffic rules do apply. Beyond the NOPD having something of an affinity for chatting with me, as recently as 2 weeks ago I was pulled over on my bike for traveling the wrong way down a one way. To tell me this, NOPD too was going the wrong way. In this case, pretty sure I was being profiled or perhaps some crooked cops were trying to meet their payoff or pickup or what have you as the conversation between us did not begin with “You’re going the wrong way.” See my vlog of it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQ3oMtM7KSQ. My other pullover story involves alcohol as I had had a few one night and was pulled over going the right way but knocking over pylons. As New Orleanians generally enjoy their drink and more and more their drink and bikes, being drunk and operating ANY motor vehicle ain’t good. Thankfully in neither case did I get sited or further. To be sure, I think in my cases NOPD picks the lowhanging fruit, but I’m fully behind appropriate enforcement of traffic laws for all.

  4. I’d really love to see the New Orleans Metro Bike Coalition hold bicycle safety and road rules courses. Honestly, I’d probably attend because I’m sure there are actual safety rules that I flout, although I do try to always err of the side of common sense. It’s not all second lining and bike valet-ing that is needed to establish a vibrant bike culture in the city.

    On the other hand, I’d love to see a Krewe of Bike-us ride during Mardi Gras. That’s my idea, but I have no idea how to implement it. I figure it would probably be easier to establish a rogue Mardi Gras krewe than it is to get my sanitation fees sorted at City Hall, though. 🙂

  5. On the other hand, I’d love to see a Krewe of Bike-us ride during Mardi Gras.

    You’ll have to get up early! The Krewe of Bikeus rolls at 7AM Fat Tuesday from Pal’s in Mid-City.

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