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Sports & Recreation

New Orleans By Bike: Bayou St. John

Biking through New Orleans (Photo: Justen Williams)

If you’re going to be bicycling in New Orleans during our gorgeous spring-time weather over the next few months, we want to make sure that you’re on the right path, literally and figuratively. So in the spirit of getting you to where you want to go, GoNOLA.com will be featuring a series of articles on destinations throughout New Orleans along with suggested routes to get there.  In the meantime, see some of the biking destinations we already know and love.  Just in time for Jazz Fest and Bayou Boogaloo on May 17-19, we’re kicking off our New Orleans By Bike series with a bicycling route that will take you safely from Uptown to Mid-City, the site of both festivals.

Biking through New Orleans (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

Before we dig in, let’s make sure you’re aware of Bike Easy, the nonprofit organization dedicated to making biking in New Orleans easy, safe, and fun.  They also are often posted up at major events in the city offering FREE bicycle valet services to anyone and everyone.  Look out for them, and become a member if you’d like even more information and benefits.

Alright, back to Bayou St. John:  As you may have heard, Esplanade Avenue is getting a facelift.  The street will be moving to one lane of traffic in each direction with the addition of a bike lane as well.  However, construction is expected to be completed in July 2013 and therefore this route doesn’t apply (yet) to our destination of Bayou St. John during spring of 2013.  When completed though, this will surely be a well-traveled route up to City Park, the Fairgrounds, Bayou St. John, and many other locales in the area.

However, before July 2013, if you’re heading out to Jazz Fest or Bayou Boogaloo in the next couple of weeks and want to traverse the city on two pedal-powered wheels, then read on my good people.

It’s a common misconception here that in order to travel from Uptown to Mid-City on a bicycle, you have to deal with the not-so-smooth roads of Central City and/or Broadmoor.  Taking a route through those neighborhoods also leaves you stuck on one side of the freeway, dealing with major intersections with poor crossings, and a very zig-zaggy path to get to your destination with little to no dedicated bike path-riding.  However, a solution exists!  Simply travel downtown, to the French Quarter or even to the Marigny and then go up to Mid-City.  It seems out of the way when you picture it in your mind perhaps, but in reality – when looking at a map – one can see that it’s nearly just as straight of a line as any other route, with much more entertainment along the way, smoother streets, and safer riding.

Use Laurel Street, or Annunciation Street (both roads recommended by Bike Easy), or Magazine Street if you’d like to brave the traffic, to head downtown.  Once there, you’ll need to get around Armstrong Park.  At times it’s possible to go through Armstrong Park, which is lovely, but for the sake of being applicable to all hours of every day, I’ve identified a route that does not include the park, which closes at certain hours.  With that in mind, taking Canal Street to Claiborne Avenue, then going “east” on Claiborne to Orleans is one of the quickest ways to do it. This route is recommended for experienced bikers and cyclists should be cautious of the fast traffic on Claiborne. Once you hit Orleans, hang a left and you’re home free – Orleans is one of the smoothest roads in the city and is a shared road for bicyclists and cars.  It’s a straight shot right to the Bayou.

Check out the map above for the full route. This route is fast and smooth from Uptown to Bayou St. John that I personally have taken many times.  Bikers will love how efficient it is.

For yet another resource on biking in New Orleans, check out the best biking road signs, bike-to-bus routes, and bike rentals.

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