Ride THISbike (Photo: Joshua Brasted)
With all its scenic advantages, navigating New Orleans by bicycle can still be challenging with wheel-swallowing potholes being one of the biggest challenges. But, here are a few bike routes that promise a smooth ride and a great way to pass a good time, as they say in the Big Easy.
Take a Royal Ride
Royal Street from Esplanade Avenue to Canal Street offers a historic route with smooth sailing thanks to the repaving upgrades in advance of 2013’s Super Bowl. When tourism in New Orleans is at at a peak bear in mind that you will be sharing the road with pedicabs, mule carriages, Segway tours and, of course, cars. Royal Street’s pavement now includes a bicycle symbol letting cars know that you’re sharing the road. This does not always mean that all drivers show bicycle awareness, so stay clear of opening car doors and exercise caution since cars do not always indicate when a sharp turn is coming your way.
Roll Down the Avenue
The bike trail down Esplanade Avenue from Frenchmen Street downtown to City Park in Mid-city is a scenic New Orleans ride with Creole mansions and live oak trees dotting the landscape. Bicycle lanes have been added at the edge of the French Quarter. This is one of the few routes in New Orleans with indicated bike lanes, but more are in the planning stage from the Central Business District to the Lafitte Greenway. Midway through your ride, past the Treme neighborhood, you can stop near Bayou St. John for hydration at one of many coffee shops including locally-owned CC’s on Esplanade, where you can securely park your ride at a bike rack while tanking up on a cold drink.
Go Off The Grid
Bicycle culture is booming in New Orleans and many rental locations offer self-guided tours as part of their service. Ride Thisbike will map your route based on areas of the city that most interest you. Outside the French Quarter, New Orleans is not a grid, so if you’re more comfortable with a guide accompanying your trek, the cost is $65 in addition to the cost of renting the bikes. It’s not a narrated tour, but it does offer a little more peace of mind if you feel like exploring but tend to get turned around in the Crescent City. The Details: Bike rentals start at $22 per rider for four hours.
Get the Works
For a narrated tour, go with Big Easy Bike Tours which offers everything from a comfortable cruise through the French Quarter to a 20-mile bike tour for the more athletically inclined. The bike tour appropriately titled “The Works” is seven hours long and encompasses New Orleans history from the French Quarter to the historic mansion-lined Garden District. Tours are limited to six participants, so you’ll get a more informative experience than with larger outings. The Details: The Works Tour is $99 per rider, not including lunch and snack stops, departing from 3017 Chartres Street in the Bywater neighborhood.