Blue Bikes is New Orlean’s public bike share program. They launched in December 2017 with 70 stations and 700 bikes. Blue Bikes aims to give New Orleans a healthy, convenient, environmentally friendly and low-cost way to travel around the city. So chow down on that po’boy, there’s no need to feel guilty when you pedal away. One of the best features of Blue Bikes is that you can return them to a hub (docking station) or lock them almost anywhere you’d lock a personal bike.
We caught up with Blue Bikes to ask a few questions and see how things are going since their recent launch. Thanks Blue Bikes New Orleans!
Bikeshare: How has the program been adopted by the residents of New Orleanians?
Blue Bikes: New Orleanians are embracing Blue Bikes, especially our local community. While most of our daily pass sales are for our pay as you go option, most of our daily rides are monthly and reduced fare subscription holders!
Bikeshare: What is the most important lesson you have learned since launch?
Blue Bikes: We’re learning that while the ins and outs of the system appear easy to us we need to be even more detailed and provide better instructions when speaking to the public. We need to be better at explaining some of the finer points of our hybrid, semi-dockless system. The fact the Blue Bikes don’t need to be returned to a hub but can be locked to almost any bike rack or fixed object is a new concept to many.
Bikeshare: Any advice for other bike share programs who will be launching soon?
Blue Bikes: Community Outreach is crucial and should be tackled prior to launch! Meet with businesses, neighborhood organizations, labor organizations – everyone – prior to launching. You’ll score some great transparency points with the community.
Bikeshare: What has been your biggest challenge to date?
Blue Bikes: Unfortunately we got some really terrible weather immediately after our launch in December 2017. There was about two months of uncommonly cold weather for our area. Adoption was low. Ridership has boomed since the weather warmed up!
Post-bad weather our biggest challenge has been completing the installations of our final hubs. Things have been delayed for a variety of reasons but we’re confident we’ll find progress soon.
Bikeshare: If you could tell the city of New Orleans one thing what would it be?
Blue Bikes: I’m grateful and impressed as a New Orleans resident, not just a Blue Bikes employee.
Bikeshare: What have you done to help convince the people of New Orleans that bike share is an important part of city’s overall transportation network.
Blue Bikes: We have and continue to explain that this is a new transportation option for all New Orleanians, especially locals. We market Blue Bikes as being a transportation option residents can use in place of the bus or streetcar or to help them with that ‘last mile’ between their bus stop and final destination. We’re also working hard to find partner organizations and businesses that have deep ties in the community that we can support. This help shows that we want to be embedded in this community.
Bikeshare: We saw a photo of your team using an electric tricycle and trailer to balance bikes. Why did you decide to go this route?
Blue Bikes: Our team uses both a van and electric tricycle. The van is great for transporting bikes to special events that may be a bit inconvenient to get to on the trike. The trike is great for rebalancing in concentrated areas with the added bonus of showing off the bikes. For the most part we use them both interchangeably.
Bikeshare: What are the most important factors to consider before installing a new docking station?
Blue Bikes: We consider the impact on the residents/businesses near the location, proximity to other hubs and the overall connectivity of the area. We wanted to connect some of New Orleans’ historic neighborhoods in ways they haven’t been connected before.
Bikeshare: Anything exciting happening in 2018 that you would like to share?
Blue Bikes: New Orleans is celebrating its Tricentennial! We’re thrilled to be part of the great city’s future and will be working on ways to be part of the many celebrations.
Bikeshare: What’s your favourite area of New Orleans to explore by bike?
Blue Bikes: I love to ride on the Lafitte Greenway because it connects so many great neighborhoods. You can start in the Treme and ride through Mid-City all the way to New Orleans City Park!
Bikeshare: If Blue Bikes New Orleans was a food what would it be?
Blue Bikes: Blue Bikes would be gumbo! There are so many parts involved in making this system thrive (just like there are so many ingredients that you can put in gumbo). The end result is something that an entire family or community can gather around and enjoy.
Our last spotlight was with Vancouver’s bike share system, Mobi by Shaw Go, to discuss ridership in rainy weather, their upcoming expansion, and the importance of forming partnerships. Read it here.