Jan 262018

A map of Uptown bike-rental “hubs,” concentrated largely in the Lower Garden District and Central City areas. (via bluebikesnola.com)

If you love the provocative mischief of Krewe du Vieux but aren’t as fond of fighting traffic to find parking downtown for it, city officials suggest you try its new “Blue Bike” rental program, and have created a how-to guide for residents.

Coming from Uptown neighborhoods, the program will be most practical for residents in the Lower Garden District and Central City areas, given that the “hubs” where bikes can be picked up are only available there. The city currently lists 10 locations between Jackson Avenue and the overpass where bikes can be picked up, but residents farther Uptown could conceivably drive to one of them and bicycle from there, still avoiding the frustrations of French Quarter parking.

If you are new to the program, read the city’s guide for using the bikes below:

Mardi Gras parades get started with Krewe du Vieux this Saturday, and here’s how you experience Carnival time on a Blue Bike:

  1. Pricing: Blue Bikes are an affordable way to get to parades. You pay as you go, and time is charged by the minute, so a 15-minute ride will only cost $2. And, through Feb. 28, sign up as a Blue Bikes rider and get your first month for only $2, using the promo code BlueBikes504. Blue Bikes also offers a reduced-fare program for $20 a year, which riders can qualify for based on income.
  2. Reserve a bike in advance: Guarantee your Blue Bikes is waiting for you before and after the parades by reserving it early. Download the Social Bicycles app, tap a nearby bike or hub, then hit Reserve. A Blue Bike will be held for you for 20 minutes before becoming available to other riders. If you drive into the city, you can park close to a hub and use Blue Bikes to pedal toward the parades.
  3. Locking: Blue Bikes can be locked just about anywhere, thanks to the u-bar lock that comes with each bike. Make sure to lock the bike to a non-moving structure that isn’t on private property, preferably a bike rack. There is a $1 fee for locking a bike out of hub, but you can avoid that if you lock the bike within 100 feet of a Blue Bikes hub.
  4. Rent multiple bikes: Riders who have signed up for the pay-as-you go or monthly Blue Bikes plans can rent up to six bikes at a time. This is an easy way to share your membership with family and friends who are visiting during Mardi Gras. Just enter your Blue Bikes account number and pin on the keypad of the bikes you want to ride, and you’ll be able to rent more than one.

Have your king cake and pedal it off, too, this Mardi Gras – sign up at www.bluebikesnola.com.

Krewe du Vieux rolls at 6:30 p.m. Saturday (Jan. 27) on a route that starts in the Marigny and winds through the French Quarter, but does not include the longer march into the Central Business District of recent years. The National Weather Service predicts an 80 percent chance of rain, with up to an inch possible.

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