Social Bike Riding in New Orleans

Social bike rides have grown over the years very in New Orleans. Locals bring underrepresented riders into the organized bicycling scene by creating bike clubs. In addition, tourists have jumped on the bandwagon, causing an increased need for bicycles and tour guides.

In New Orleans, there’s a tour of everything and methods. Before Covid took over our lives, a group of creative young people had bikes, reflectors, and a boombox. The destination could have been the skating rink, Bourbon Street, Lake Ponchatrain, school dance, or just biking through the city. If you didn’t have a bike, you rode on the handlebars—the good old days.

Since “New Orleans Social Biking” has been trending in the tourism industry. In typical tourism fashion, expensive bike tours and bicycle rentals seized the business opportunity from the local working and social bicycling community. It took me by surprise because walking and biking have always been the mode of transportation for Black New Orleans, especially if we didn’t have money for the bus. Be it school, work, or a night out on Bourbon Street, our feet got us there.


Riding, but the main focus is socializing.

My neighbor created a club for our neighborhood called the St. Roch Riders a few years ago. What started with a few neighbors riding through the city on a Tuesday evening is now a group of over forty riders. We light up and ride through the city with New Orleans music blasting through a portable speaker. It’s a total NOLA Vibe. Immagine Impeccably decorated bicycles are lit up from the handlebar to the last spoke in the wheel, with colorful LED lights lighting the way through the streets of New Orleans, making for an outlet for escape and exercise, especially after a hard day.

A typical night consists of bar hopping and depending on various neighborhoods. I never thought riding a bike and drinking would make for such an excellent opportunity to get out and socialize, and New Orleans makes the perfect backdrop. If you’re like me, how can one drink, socialize and ride a bike all at once? But it does! And if you can’t keep up, just chant, “Laissez Les bons temps rouler- Let the good times roll!” And keep on rolling!

Riding makes for a great date night. I noticed that some groups have more couples riding than single people, but one shouldn’t feel like a third wheel. As I mentioned, the bike club makes different spots; therefore, mingling increases significantly.

“Let the good times roll.”

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 group of riders pedaling for St. Patrick’s Day. There’s this contraption where the group can sit, pedal, and drink while going down the street. You are in New Orleans, so do as the locals do! We can walk without liquor in our hands!

If you’re not a heavy drinker, start with a drink, preferably beer but make your drink of choice lots of water.

I once ate and drank too much that I had to get a Lyft home. I was too full, and I had a doggie bag. Thoughts of me falling off the bike followed by funny social media posts, “Biker accident: If only she would have let go of her doggie bag.”, “Biker accident: “If only she would have let go of her doggie bag.” It was an excellent idea on paper, but not for those who love to partake in good food, maybe stopping at tapas restaurants would be a better match for a bike eat-and-drink theme.

Please know that you aren’t required to drink alcohol when your group stops at the bar. The stops are more about socializing and networking. If you are riding with a tour company, it’s possible that bar hopping isn’t a part of the ride. If you’re not into the night scene, I highly recommend riding during the daytime.

If you plan on joining a bike group, please know that the riders are serious about the lights on their bikes. It’s a bike-light fashion show and contest. I have a nice yellow bike with white walls and a cute basket. I didn’t go all out with the lights, though. And my very own adult friends made me feel like that 12yr old girl with a hand-me-down bike with mixed-matched wheels. Lol. It’s real out there with the lights! Make sure your bike is lit up like a Christmas tree.

If you do not own a bike, several shops rent bicycles. But it can get costly, especially if you are a local. By renting it twice, you could have owned a nice bike. Check out thrift stores and consignment shops, or borrow a friend’s.

Bike Review

I love riding; it’s freeing and gets your blood pumping. And you get to meet different people and discover parts of the city you would never have driven past. It’s like a culture bike riding adventure. Being out in the night air, the stars and moonlight up the sky feel magical. There’s this feeling as if New Orleans wraps you in her arms as the wind blows sweetness in 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. We love living and sharing our lives with others. Yes, we ride for exercise, but we ride with our hearts and sou more than anything. It’s a New Orleans Experience! It’s a feeling like no other, and I hope that yall get to experience it!

Royal St & Canal St
Riding thru the French Market
Chillin on Royal St
In the 8thWard
7th Ward
Taking a break on the Riverwalk
Stop at the State Museum

A Biking Guide to New Orleans, LA

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 expressed desire to bring about social change. In New Orleans, fun appears to be the primary motivation behind most groups. No matter the stated purpose, these rides attract 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 serve 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 predominately African-American city, but, like many, has struggled to attract black participation in the organized bicycling scene.

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. Thisalthought black residents, in particular black men, have biked for transportation in this largely poor city for many years, often out of necessity.

“It’s 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 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 attract more women than men, Owens said. He hopes that enticing new people to the activity will shift perceptions about 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 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.

Bike Shop: New Orleans’ Dashing Bicycles and Accessories

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. She lives in New Orleans and is a nationally recognized transportation equity strategist and planner.

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 the 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 searching for 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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