Thursday, April 11, 2013

New Orleans Bike to Work Day draws over 700 riders

Bicycle commuters pause to chit chat and down a free smoothie at Duncan Plaza across from New Orleans City Hall.  The riders participated in Bike to Work Day in New Orleans, April 9, 2013.  Over 700 riders signed up for the event.
     Bike to Work Day in New Orleans was held April 9 this year (2013) and over 700 riders signed up for the event, said Jamie Wine, executive director of Bike Easy, a non-profit bike advocacy group organizing the event.
      Using social media sites to locate meet-up spots near their homes, bicycle commuters singly and in groups converged on  Duncan Plaza across from City Hall in the CBD.  There bikers were offered free smoothies and the chance to visit a few information booths before heading off to their workplaces.
     Wine said over three thousand people in New Orleans use their bicycles to commute to work.
     "The ride was definitely a success.  One of the coolest things about this year's ride was all of the publicity," Wine said.

     Passenger and car ferries crossing the Mississippi River, connecting the West Bank to New Orleans--a vital public transit link for bicycle commuters-- may cease operation in June, said two riders seeking support to keep the ferries running.
     Fay Faron, president of Friends of the Ferry, bicycled from Algiers to Duncan Plaza with Connie Burks, to gain attention to their fight to keep the ferries: Canal St./Algiers, Chalmette/Algiers and Canal St./Gretna, running.  Unless the current operators of the ferry, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development and other interested parties come up with a plan to fund the 186-year old ferry service, June could be the last month they cross the Mississippi, the women said.
     Ceasing ferry service, which cyclists and pedestrians use for free, will strand bicyclists on both banks as bicycles are not allowed on the Crescent City Connection, the bridge crossing the river at New Orleans.  RTA buses that cross the bridge to service both the east and west banks have bike racks but the racks have room for only two bicycles.  The detour using the bridge is 18 miles.
      Operation of the ferries was funded with tolls from the Crescent City Connection bridge but the tolls are no longer collected.  The $1 fee from cars using ferry pay a very small portion of the costs to operate the ferry.
     But closing the ferry "is just not going to happen," Faron vowed as Burks agreed saying, "over my dead body."

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