Blue Bikes benefit riders around New Orleans


Cristian Orellana

Blue Bikes sit outside the Contemporary Arts Center on Camp Street on April 11th. CHRISTEN ORELLANA/The Maroon. Photo credit: Cristian Orellana

Sidney Holmes

New Orleans is making strides in city transportation and is now helping members of the community get around with bike transportation. The City of New Orleans partnered with Social Bicycles, Inc. to launch the bike-sharing program Blue Bikes late last year.

Bike sharing allows people to rent bikes for a period of time, and Blue Bikes offers different subscription plans for users. The bikes can be rented for $8 per hour or $15 per month. They also offer a reduced-fare option that is based on income for $20 per year.

Mid-City resident Esteban Largaespada has been riding the bikes since the launch.

“I could have gone out and bought a really crappy bike that I wouldn’t mind losing or getting stolen. Instead I signed up for these,” Largaespada said.

He said he that he rides a Blue Bike for at least an hour a day to get the most out of his monthly subscription.

“It entices you to do it because it’s kind of like a gym membership. I already paid for it monthly, so I kind of feel bad if I don’t go a day without using it,” Largaespada said.

The bikes can be found all around New Orleans, from the Bywater to Mid-City to the Lower Garden District. When the bike program started Dec. 5, 2017, there were 15 hubs and 150 bikes around the city. Now there are 60 hubs and 600 bikes available for use.

Destinie Hammond, Blue Bike outreach coordinator, said that the program encourages New Orleanians to be more active.

“We want to make the city more accessible to more of a variety of people; we want to connect the historic neighborhoods in a way they have never been connected before, and overall make the city healthier,” Hammond said.

Largaespada said that the bikes come in handy for people who don’t want to own a bike.

“I think the Blue Bikes are a way to not necessarily commit,” he said. “It’s a way for to not necessarily have to be ‘bike people’ but use bikes.”

Hammond said that their ultimate goal is to eventually have 90 hubs and 900 Blue Bikes for New Orleanians to use.

“We’re looking for more ways to become deeply rooted into the city,” she said.

Hammond said that the bikes are currently averaging over 130 rides per day. With the combined monthly and reduced fair options, about 600 people have Blue Bike subscriptions.

“We are starting to see our monthly and reduced fair plan holders making Blue Bikes a part of their regular commute, so they are taking bikes to work, to run errands, to get to social events, so that’s really exciting to see,” Hammond said.

When it comes to benefitting the city, Blue Bikes made an announcement in a press release that Blue Bike users have burned over three million calories and eliminated over 67,000 pounds of carbon gases from the atmosphere.

“We’re definitely starting to see some of those healthier habits,” Hammond said.