NEW ORLEANS, LA — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the City of New Orleans has been selected to receive technical assistance to explore the potential of establishing a Bikeshare program. Bikeshare programs are designed to provide free or affordable access to bicycles for short-distance trips in an urban area as an alternative to motorized public transit or private vehicles. Bikeshare programs help reduce congestion, noise and air pollution and support sustainable growth that encourages local economic development while safeguarding health and the environment.
“As New Orleans looks to establish a Bikeshare program, the EPA’s technical assistance will help promote its growth and success in our city,” Cedric Grant, Deputy Mayor of Facilities, Infrastructure, and Community Development said. “Bikeshare programs offer a convenient alternative to driving and encourage healthy and safe commuting. They can also reduce vehicular traffic and environmental hazards while promoting sustainability.”
As part of the technical assistance provided, EPA staff and national experts will hold a one to two-day workshop focusing on the Planning for Bikeshare tool, which will explore the potential of establishing a bikeshare program in the community.
The EPA’s Bikeshare tool is designed to provide communities with an overview of bikeshare types, development, and experience in North America. Key concepts that will be reviewed include: feasibility, system planning, business plan, operations, and health, safety, and social equity related to bikeshare. Communities will conduct a self-assessment to determine which concepts are most relevant to review. After a tour of the community during the workshop, the EPA team will develop a series of strategies and next steps to help implement a bikeshare program.
During the workshop with EPA-funded, private-sector experts, participants will explore the selected tool, as well as other ways to make progress toward community goals for environmentally responsible, economically healthy development.
“If we want a healthier environment and a stronger economy, sustainable practices must be part of community development across the country,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “The EPA’s Building Blocks program helps communities invest in sustainable growth techniques, so they can plan for a better future. The short-term, targeted assistance we are providing will help stimulate local economies, while protecting people’s health and safeguarding the environment.”
To date, EPA’s assistance through the Building Blocks program has reached nearly one hundred and fifty communities. EPA selected this year’s recipients from 121 applicants through a competitive process in consultation with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Together, the three agencies form the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities, which coordinate investments in housing, transportation, and environmental protection to get better results for communities and use taxpayer money more efficiently.
During the week leading up to Super Bowl XLVII, the New Orleans Super Bowl Host Committee, Entergy Corporation, the Downtown Development District, and local nonprofit Bike Easy sponsored a demonstration bikeshare free rental program that served over 500 individuals over the course of five days.
Before Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans had fewer than 5 miles of designated bikeways. The city now boasts approximately 58 miles of completed bikeways, which includes 11 miles of trails, 28 miles of shared lanes, and 19 miles of bike lanes. The City plans to add another 10 miles of bikeways over the next 12 months. In 2011, the League of American Bicyclists designated New Orleans as a bronze level recipient of the Bicycle Friendly Community award. According to the Alliance for Bike and Walking 2012 Benchmarking Report, New Orleans ranks tenth highest among major U.S. cities for percent of commuters traveling by bike. In addition, the City of New Orleans Department of Public Works was recently recognized by Bike Easy for its commitment to expanding the bikeway network and implementing a Complete Streets program.