By Claire Byun
Faubourg St. John neighbors have worked for weeks to identify the best future locations for bicycle sharing stations in the area, though residents aren’t sure their voices will be heard.
Steve Kaplan, member of the Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association, said about a dozen FSJNA members determined the safest and most aesthetically-pleasing spots in the neighborhood for the stations. Neighbors shared their findings with city officials at the public bicycle share workshop in Mid-City on Monday.
“The program is going to happen,” Kaplan told FSJNA at its meeting Tuesday. “It’s going to happen, and where we put the stations initially is very critical. We tried to come up with the least invasive and most probably chance to succeed.”
The 700 custom-designed bicycles will be placed at an estimated 70 stations designated at locations in neighborhoods around the city as part of a citywide bicycle share program, Dwight Norton of the mayor’s office of resilience, said. The program launches in October after three more public workshops, an online survey, several draft plans and a public hearing.
Kaplan said his study group tried to keep stations away from spots directly in front of homes, so residents don’t have to “wake up” to bike racks every day. The group also tried to keep stations out of public right-of-ways, especially along Esplanade Avenue due to the Crescent City Classic. Kaplan said he was concerned Classic and the Rock n’ Roll Mardi Gras Marathon would need the whole road, and the stations would disrupt the events.
The study group also made sure to not take up any parking spots in the neighborhood.
“I like what they did,” said Jim Danner, FSJNA vice president. “I don’t know if they’ll be heard by the city, but I like their ideas.”
There will be about 15 stations around Mid-City, Dwight Norton, with the mayor’s office of resilience, said at the public workshop. All stations will be sized “according to context,” Norton said, meaning a less-populated area will only have spots for a few bikes. Pedestrian-heavy areas, such as the Central Business District and Canal Street, could have room for up to 20 bikes.
There will also be 10 walk-up kiosks throughout the city, though those will only be placed as densely-populated areas, Norton said.
Stations also must be in a public space that remains open 24/7 and has some sunlight during the day, since the bikes’ systems are solar powered, Norton said.
The FSJNA study group picked out several neighborhood spots that already have bike racks – since those can be used with the new program – especially along Esplanade Avenue. The group also carved out spots in a few of the public parks that are both out of traffic and not a nuisance to residents, Kaplan said.
Though the program is advertised for residents – thus the point of putting them in neighborhoods – Danner said many people in the Fairgrounds area already own bikes. Most of the traffic will come from people returning from the French Quarter or cycling down the Lafitte Greenway, or going from one form of transportation to the next.
“We have excellent transportation here,” Danner said “I can’t see people who live here using it, but maybe others will.”