New Orleans Bike-Share Launches – Next City

New Orleans Bike-Share Launches

(Credit: Blue Bikes New Orleans)

Last year, the city of New Orleans released a request for proposal seeking would-be bike-share operators. As Next City reported at the time, the city’s decision was a victory for local advocates who’d been pushing for bike-share since 2010.

Today, riders were finally able to take the city’s blue bikes for an inaugural spin. The system is (fittingly) called Blue Bikes, and is operated by New York-based Social Bicycles. It will be funded and maintained by the company with sponsorship from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana (rather than the city). Around 700 bikes are available for rental throughout the city, and riders will be able to pick them up at stations located in the CBD, French Quarter and other neighborhoods along the Mississippi River, WGNO reports.

The bike-share’s structure is a kind of hybrid — riders can pick up and drop off their bikes at designated stations or park them at certain sanctioned bike racks (for an extra fee), much like Seattle’s privately funded new system. Rides will cost $8 an hour or $15 for a monthly pass that allows up to an hour of riding each day.

Advocates began lobbying for a bike-share system when the city released its master plan seven years ago. In 2012, local organization Bike Easy produced a bike-share feasibility study and in 2014, the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission funded a more comprehensive study which concluded that the city could support a bike-share system without investing public dollars.

“Bike-share will be a really powerful addition to the public transportation landscape in New Orleans,” Bike Easy Executive Director Dan Favre told Next City’s Josh Cohen last year. “We’ve struggled to get bus service back to where it was before Katrina.”

But the fact that the bike-share system was planned without public funding has raised some concerns, particularly about how much it can do to subsidize usage or operate outside of high-density, high-traffic areas, Cohen wrote at the time. The city’s RFP did, however, stipulate that the system be both “an international model for equitable bicycle-sharing programs” and “operate in a fiscally sustainable manner.” Its equity requirements included online, mobile and cash payment options to better serve unbanked residents; reduced-cost annual passes for low-income users; and kiosks that operate in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Last year, the City of New Orleans released a request for proposal seeking would-be bike-share operators. As Next City reported at the time, the city’s decision was a victory for local advocates who’d been pushing for bike-share since 2010.

Today, riders were finally able to take the city’s blue bikes for an inaugural spin. The system is (fittingly) called Blue Bikes, and is operated by New York-based Social Bicycles. It will be funded and maintained by the company with sponsorship from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana (rather than the city). Around 700 bikes are available for rental throughout the city, and riders will be able to pick them up at stations located in the CBD, French Quarter and other neighborhoods along the Mississippi River, WGNO reports.

The bike-share’s structure is a kind of hybrid — riders can pick up and drop off their bikes at designated stations or park them at certain sanctioned bike racks (for an extra fee), much like Seattle’s privately funded new system. Rides will cost $8 an hour or $15 for a monthly pass that allows up to an hour of riding each day.

Advocates began lobbying for a bike-share system when the city released its master plan seven years ago. In 2012, local organization Bike Easy produced a bike-share feasibility study and in 2014, the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission funded a more comprehensive study which concluded that the city could support a bike-share system without investing public dollars.

“Bike-share will be a really powerful addition to the public transportation landscape in New Orleans,” Bike Easy Executive Director Dan Favre told Next City’s Josh Cohen last year. “We’ve struggled to get bus service back to where it was before Katrina.”

But the fact that the bike-share system was planned without public funding has “raised some question about how much it can do to subsidize usage or operate outside of high-density, high-traffic areas,” Cohen wrote at the time. The city’s RFP did, however, stipulate that the system be both “an international model for equitable bicycle sharing programs” and “operate in a fiscally sustainable manner.” Its equity requirements included “online, mobile and cash payment options to better serve unbanked residents; reduced-cost annual passes for low-income users; and kiosks that operate in English, Spanish and Vietnamese,” Cohen wrote.

Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian.

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Tags: new orleansbike-share