Bywater Boasts Biggest Bike-to-Work Population in New Orleans

We’re passionate about bikes here at Booty’s. After Katrina ate my brand new Ford Escape (along with the rest of my earthly possessions) a thousand years ago, I relocated to Seattle. Thanks to the wonder of purchasing my car in Pennsylvania, but living in New Orleans, I ended up owing thousands of dollars on car that was towed off to a scrapyard after having been submerged 100% below water. Memories…


Bootys Street Food bike racks

The super fly bike racks at Booty’s


I never did end up purchasing another car, as Seattle is an incredibly walkable city. I moved back to New Orleans two years ago with my partner Nick to begin work on Booty’s, and we remain without a car to this very day. 


If we can’t get there on our bikes, we’re probably not going. I do the entirety of my grocery shopping at the New Orleans Food Cooperative in the Marigny, carrying as much as I can on my bicycle, and dinners with friends are usually hosted at Bywater restaurants like Mariza or Pizza Delicious. Booty’s gets our morning pastries from Shake Sugary a few blocks down the street, and many a sunny afternoon is spent poolside at The Country Club (Think less of an actual country club and more of a boozy, half-naked pool party, for those of you who have never been). 


And you know what? It’s not just me living this way in this fantastic, incredibly bikeable and walkable neighborhood. A new study from a BikeEasy graduate student confirms what everyone living here in Bywater sees every day; Bywater loves bikes. 


“Bywater, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, boasts one of the highest bike mode shares in the city per the ACS, with an estimated 7 to 11 percent of residents commuting to work by bike, depending on how the district’s boundaries are defined. In Navarre, a section of more suburban Lakeview that took off after the rise of the personal automobile, an estimated 2.5 percent of residents get to work by bike.”


“Bicycling tends to be most alluring in places with ample and well-connected bikeways, where the bike offers a convenient way to avoid traffic congestion and parking hassles, and where there are plenty of places to bicycle to – stores, jobs, and other destinations – within close range.”


“Bywater is such a neighborhood. It is characterized by a mix of commercial and residential uses. By virtue of its early origins, it has narrow, well-connected, low-speed streets and limited off-street parking. Bywater also benefits from some dedicated bicycling infrastructure.”


It’s true! Bikers be biking on their bikes everywhere in this neighborhood! With the help of the Young Leadership Council’s Where Ya Rack, we’ve installed five bike racks outside of Booty’s, and on any given night, they are all completely full. We once had a brunch service with nineteen bikes locked on our racks and street signs outside of the restaurant. Heck yeah! 


One of the concerns raised by our immediate neighbors when be began building Booty’s was that there would be a sort of parking apocalypse brought about by the proximity of Booty’s to Maurepas Foods and Satsuma Cafe, three popular destinations all within one block of each other. Except, that’s exactly how cities are meant to work. Close proximity, shared infrastructure, denser living, commercial and residential buildings existing in harmony. The parking apocalypse never did end up happening, though all three of our business regularly sport lines out the front door. 


We regularly count the number of empty parking spots outside of Booty’s on busy nights. Even with a completely full house, 50 people eating and drinking inside, we consistently count between ten and as high as twenty spots open on the four blocks that Booty’s sits on the corner of. It turns out that the majority of our customers are coming to Booty’s on their feet, on their bikes, and by taxi (Especially astonishing to us, as taxis literally and uniformly refused to drive to Bywater for the year we spent building Booty’s.). Pedicabs and limousines (!!!) have even become frequent fixtures here, dropping off guests, but gridlocked traffic and a dearth of parking spots? Not so much. 


The bike racks at Booty’s are full every night. And only four of our 26 employees drive cars to work. The rest bike (and lock their bikes up in our private employee area off the street) or walk, with the exception of one committed employee who takes two buses from Uptown before and after each shift. 


All of this is essentially just to say, Heck yeah, bikes! And heck yeah, Bywater! 

POSTED BY Kevin Farrell ON July 17, 2013 IN Culture