POSTED Wed. Jun 29, 2016

Atmosphere

Four Cycling Routes for the Summer
Written by LB KOVAC
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It’s an increasingly well-known secret: New Orleans is one of the USA’s great urban biking destinations.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has visited the city. In one neighborhood, you can ride beside Spanish-style villas or historic Tulane University’s campus. Just a few blocks away, you can follow the Mississippi River and ride part of the Mississippi River Trail.

Whether you’re an experienced cyclist looking to maintain your mileage or a casual rider looking to explore the city in a new way, New Orleans has some bicycle routes for you. Even in the soup-y heat of summer, these paths offer shade and/or breeze, plus an excellent means of connecting with the city at an intimate eye level, while also exploring it at an appreciable pace.

Algiers Bike Path (4+ miles)
If you’re in the French Quarter, follow the river south to the Aquarium of the Americas. Behind the Aquarium is the Algiers-Canal St Ferry, which costs $2 for cyclists to ride. On the ferry, you’ll get scenic views of the river, including the excellent sight of ships docking at the Port of New Orleans.

Once at Algiers Point, you can bike along the Mississippi River Trail in Gretna. This portion of the route offers scenic views of the New Orleans skyline, more opportunities to see boats and ships, and a quiet escape from the city. Turn around when the mood hits you and take the ferry back to the East Bank.

City Park Cruise (2.5 miles to the park)

If you’re in the French Quarter, you can ride a straight shot up Esplanade Ave to New Orleans City Park. Within the park itself, there are several miles of paths and trails alongside bayous and the Big Lake that can easily yield hours of riding and exploring.

The park is also home to the New Orleans Museum of Art, which houses an extensive collection of works by the likes of Picasso, Miro, and Warhol. Entry into the main part of the museum is $10.50/6.50 for adults/children (and totally worth it), while the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden is free to the public.

Also in City Park is Carousel Gardens Amusement Park. If you want to take a break from cycling, you can get an elephant ear and ride the tilt-a-whirl.

Once you’re ready to go home, you can take Esplanade Ave back to the French Quarter.

Lafayette Cemetery Route (3 miles to the Cemetery)

Starting on Canal St, you can bicycle down Magazine St, then turn onto Poydras St, then St. Charles Ave, packed with shops and boutiques. Follow St. Charles to St. Joseph St, hang a left, and then another left to get back onto Magazine.

You’ll pass the National World War II Museum, which is an excellent stop if you need a water break or want to check out more than 100,000 artifacts from the world’s deadliest conflict.

If you continue down Magazine, you’ll arrive in the Garden District, packed with stately mansions and live oaks. Hang a right at Washington Ave and you’ll arrive at Lafayette Cemetery No 1.

The Cemetery was built in 1832 and is the resting place of roughly 7,000 people, including Judge Ferguson of the Plessy vs. Ferguson decision, as well as the Brunie family, who were legends of the New Orleans jazz scene.

You are welcome to walk through the cemetery for free, but several local companies run guided tours that will point out the more famous tombstones and steep you in the history of the place.

Once you’re finished touring the cemetery, you can run the route in reverse or catch the streetcar back to your starting point.

The Big One (8+ miles)

If you need to get some distance under your tires, this route is for you. It offers beautiful views of Lake Ponchartrain, clean lake air, and some glimpses of Louisiana waterfowl. It is also around eight miles long, so bring some extra water.

Starting westward on N. Rampart St, turn left onto St. Bernard Ave. St. Bernard will take you all the way to the banks of Lake Ponchartrain. From there, turn left onto Lakeshore Dr, which will follow the river for several miles. Along the way, the breeze off of Ponchartrain will (hopefully) keep you cooled down. By the time you get to Bucktown, a po’boy at R&O’s may be just what the doctor ordered.

When attempting any of these routes, remember to practice safe cycling. Always wear a helmet, stick to bike lanes where available, and use illuminating equipment when cycling at night.

Image: a bicycle second line, via Bike Easy’s Facebook page.

POSTED Dec 27, 2016

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