The Resurrection of New Orleans Bike Share

After the city lost its bike share fleet, its former manager pledged to bring it back, and did so under a non-profit model that centers equity for riders and workers.

2 minute read

January 25, 2023, 8:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Row of blue New Orleans bike share bikes at a docked station on street

A Blue Bikes station in 2018. | Kristi Blokhin / Blue Bikes station

“Of the nearly 300 bike-share and scooter-share programs in North America, more than half are privately owned, a figure that is quickly growing. That leaves most micromobility programs vulnerable to market whims, a precarious position for a mode of transportation upon which many people depend,” explains Gabriela Aoun Angueira in Grist.

When the pandemic threatened to permanently end New Orleans’ bike share system—which was suspended in 2020, then passed on to Lime, whose contract was eventually canceled by the city due to disagreements over the introduction of electric scooters—Geoff Coates, former manager of Blue Bikes, decided to create a community-run model and bring bike share back to the city.

Coates reorganized under a new nonprofit called Blue Krewe, which secured funding from prior bike share sponsors Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and relaunched a 500-bike system in September 2021.

According to Aoun Angueira, “Blue Bikes costs less to use now — just 15 cents per minute, or $25 a month for a membership. People who use Medicaid or SNAP benefits pay only $4. The program covers roughly the same area as before, but Blue Krewe has a review process to ensure bikes are distributed equitably.” Blue Krewe also employs full-time workers rather than using the gig economy model. 

The city’s newest climate action plan calls for expanding the system to 2,000 bikes as part of its effort to cut vehicle trips in half by 2030.

Friday, January 20, 2023 in Grist

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