Social Bicycling In New Orleans

There’s a social ride for almost every interest now in New Orleans. Many are bringing underrepresented riders into the organized bicycling scene. I know tourist are wondering “when did black people start riding bikes in New Orleans for pleasure?” Don’t worry, we thought the same thing, but recently I have been wondering when did people and I mean everyone, start paying for “Bicycle Tours”??   First of all, the tour averages about $50/2hr ride around the “tourist areas”. Why ride a bike through the French Quarter when you can walk…? It’s not my money so why should I care??

My neighbor created a club for our neighborhood, so we could start off riding together, meet up with other riders and form a larger group/club.

As you will read there are several clubs, which have various reasons for riding, but the main focus is socializing.

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I rode with one club and we would ride and bar hop; typically meeting up with a different club at each bar and riding through various neighborhoods throughout the night averaging 100+ riders. I actually enjoyed the bar hoping, it added more riders to the event as a whole, plus it helped with numbers.

What I have found is usually couples ride together, so if you are single, you will more than likely end up being the 3rd wheel, not so fun, but add different spots like a club or bar the possibility of mingling increases greatly. Just because you are at the bar doesn’t mean you have to drink, but riding with the same club whose focus isn’t on socializing then hey, be that 3rd wheel, but more than likely you are riding, because you are a cyclist and not a social rider.

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I do not know why some turn their noses up when they hear that riders are going to bars. In my travels I have witnessed a whole group of rider pedaling for St.Patricks Day. There’s this one contraption whereas the group can sit, pedal and drink while going down the street.. Maybe, there’s a lead person who guides the bike, but hey they are pedaling and can fall off into the street. Let’s just think that it holds the same weight as us, New Orleans riders lol.

I’m not a heavy drinker, so a drink here or there along with lots of water faired well with me, but I have no clue why I rode with “Foodies” one night. That one night did me in. There’s no way one can eat all the fatty deliciousness that is in New Orleans and call themselves getting on a bike to burn the calories off… I ended up getting a Lyft home. I was too full and I had a doggie bag. I would have been in the news, well in the funny pages titled, “Biker accident: If only she would have let go off her doggie bag.” It was an excellent idea to eat and bike on paper, but not for those who love to partake in good food, maybe tapas restaurants… Idk, but I’m not riding with them again..

If you plan on riding, please know that the riders are serious when it comes to “who has the best lights”.. It’s a bike light fashion show & contest. I rode with my few strings on my $125 yellow bike and my very own friends made me feel like that 12yr old girl with her hand me down bike with the patched up inner tube. Lol It’s real out there with the lights, so please have at least both your wheels lit up.

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If you do not own  bike or visiting there are several shops that rent bicycles, but that cost comes in again especially if you are a local. By time you rent it twice, you could have owned a nice bike. The thrift stores, consignment shops or  rent on from a friend if they have a spare one, but who am I to tell all you Mr. & Mrs. Big Bucks on how to spend your money.. You know what, I will do a follow up blog with sites that are owned by locals and not some commercial big wig selling yall a bike tour of New Orleans for the low price of $299/3hrs, ya get everything, but a real New Orleans Experience.

 

I love riding, it’s freeing, gets your blood pumping, you get to meet different people and see parts of the city I didn’t know about. It’s like an adventure. You may join another group of riders and they bring you to place where you can see the stars and moon kissing the city and this feeling comes over you as if New Orleans wraps her arms around you and the wind blows sweet encouragement into your ears.. It’s been magical riding.

Like, everything that is New Orleans being a part of the New Orleans Bike Rider’s Scene is a culture, a way of life, living and sharing it with others. Yes, we ride for all the reasons others across the nation ride, but we ride with our heart and soul. It’s a New Orleans Experience and it will feel like no other bike ride and my hope is that yall get to feel that.

 

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Here’s an article I thought spoke to the different cultural aspects of riding in New Orleans.

Easy Rider: How Social Rides are Reshaping the New Orleans Bicycling Scene
Written by: 

new orleans social bike rides

One recent weeknight outside the Hi-Ho Lounge, a New Orleans, LA bar and music venue in a formerly-gritty part of town, the first musical act of the evening was cranking up as a different scene was taking shape outside. What started with a few dozen people milling about as the sun was setting, quickly grew to a crowd of hundreds. Its constituents were drinking beer, catching up with friends and friends-to-be, and checking out one another’s bicycles – few of them built for speed but most intended to catch the eye.

As the sunlight faded, the LED lights decorating wheels and frames got brighter: purples, pinks, yellows, and greens glowing and pulsing in rhythm with the music thumping from the open doors of the club. By dusk, the group had taken over the space outside the bar, the neutral ground of St. Claude Avenue and the intersection, and spread across the street causing drivers – many of them arriving with bikes in tow – to snake through the weekly street party preceding the three-hour ride every Tuesday since October 2015. It’s called GetUpNRide and it’s part of a social biking scene that’s quickly gaining steam.

As in many cities in North America and beyond, bicycling is taking off in New Orleans – the city ranks among the top ten large American cities for the rate of people commuting by bike – and the proliferation of social riding groups are both responding to and helping to fuel an expansion of bicycling culture here. There are now social rides in Detroit, MI; Chicago, IL; Los Angeles, CA; Houston, TX; and Vancouver, BC. In New Orleans, there are rides for many occasions and specific interests, from vegans to music lovers to the LGBTQ community. In some instances – Slow Roll comes to mind – the rides are inspired by an express desire to bring about social change. In New Orleans, fun appears the primary motivation behind most of the groups. No matter the stated purpose, these rides are attracting new people to bike saddles, providing riders with a sense of place in their community and helping to make the city more bicycle-aware.

“There’s a bike ride and a bike club every single day in New Orleans,” said Terri Battee, 53, who works in the film industry. “I’ve ridden with almost all of them, except the newer clubs.” (Battee, who doesn’t drink, said she was turned off from the groups in part by the prevalence of alcohol, that near-ubiquitous component of any New Orleans gathering.) Nola Social Ride was one of the earliest arrivals, in recent history. Since its 2010 inception, the group has amassed close to 8,000 Facebook followers, its social media feeds serving as forums for all things biking: places to rant about safety concerns, advertise bikes for sale, notify members about bike theft and upcoming legislative proposals, and – unfortunately – to mourn the all-too-frequent deaths of bicyclists. GetUpNRide has primarily attracted an audience of black men and women, no small feat in a city that is predominately African-American but, like many, has struggled to attract black participation in the organized bicycling scene.

New orleans social bike rides

The apparent homogeneity of the city’s bicycling ranks has fueled a stereotype of bicycling as the domain of white, male hipsters – a reputation that hasn’t helped in lobbying for improved conditions for bicyclists, said Keith Holt, community education manager for Bike Easy, the local advocacy organization. This despite the fact that black residents, in particular black men, have biked for transportation in this largely poor city for many years, often out of necessity.

“It’s kind of a replacement for going to the club,” said Blake Owens, 33, a club promoter and one of three founders of GetUpNRide. “When we started it was simply something fun, healthy, and something different to do,” he explained. “The more people that came out, the more people just kept coming out – and here we are. People tend to forget how fun it is to ride a bike. You ride when you’re young and then you grow out of it.” Today it’s hard to ignore the broader implications of what is taking shape through the group’s events. “I think this is the beginning of a shift in bike culture,” Owens said of the fact that GetUpNRide is luring so many people of color to bicycles.

Also remarkable in light of women’s reluctance to ride where it feels unsafe, is that the rides are attracting more women than men, Owens said. He hopes that enticing new people to the activity will shift perceptions about who is biking and who biking is for. “Last week we had about 700 people,” Owens said. “Imagine what 700 young men and women could be doing if they weren’t biking. It’s such a positive thing. We’re teaching them something that’s healthy, fun, different.” To Battee, GetUpNRide’s success marks real progress. “When I started with social rides, in most cases I was the only black person,” she said.

Today, she sees a lot more company from people of color riding the city’s streets, to which she credits in part the rise in social bicycling groups. If current trends hold, real gains could be realized in engaging communities that have historically been left out of vital transportation policy conversations, said Naomi Doerner, who lives in New Orleans and is a nationally-recognized transportation equity strategist and planner.

Back outside the Hi-Ho as the riders were getting ready to take off, 32-year-old New Orleans lawyer Lacresha Wilkerson biked over on her rent-a-bike, acquired from one of multiple vendors out on location for the night’s event. She doesn’t own a bike of her own but was drawn to the ride after noticing the stream of colorful bicycles pedaling past her downtown apartment. “It seemed like a fun way to burn some calories,” she said. “And it’s exciting.”

Derek McKay, a 56-year-old musician, wandered about in search of a patch to repair a busted tube that threatened to derail his ride. McKay had been participating in the rides for about a month. “It’s a Mardi Gras type atmosphere,” the New Orleans native grinned beneath his hat with the city’s football team logo on it. As he talked, the smoke from a BBQ grill wafted over from a nearby sidewalk, carrying the scents of oysters and hot dogs. McKay gestured over to his bike, propped against a rack next to a mound of others. “I paid $60 for that bike at the used bike store,” he shared. “But it’s got $350 worth of lights on it.”


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