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New Orleans, nonprofit say bike sharing to return Sept. 1

Posted by 
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
 2021-03-20

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A bike sharing program will return to New Orleans, with a Toronto company bringing 500 “electric-assist” bicycles to the city by Sept. 1, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said.

“This partnership with Drop Mobility brings our City significantly closer to restoring bike share to our residents as an affordable transportation option and represents how partnership is a core value of our strategy to deliver a world-class bike-share system,” Cantrell said in a news release Thursday.

A recently formed nonprofit called Blue Krewe will run the program, which is keeping the Blue Bikes name used by the previous program, also sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana.

“With the limited resources of a new nonprofit, Blue Krewe had to search far and wide for the right vendor to provide the bikes and software for the new Blue Bikes,” said Dan Favre, a board member of that nonprofit and executive director of Bike Easy, the Greater New Orleans bicycle education and advocacy organization.

The city’s previous bike sharing program started in late 2017 and ended shortly after the city’s first pandemic stay-home order. The company that owned it in March 2020 was sold to a California-based company, which told The Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate that it could have stayed in New Orleans only by adding scooters.

The Greater New Orleans Foundation made startup grants and fiscal sponsorship, including “a significant cash advance on their behalf” so Drop Mobility could begin the making bicycles in time to meet the city’s deadlines,” said Andy Kopplin, the foundation’s president and CEO and a Blue Krewe board member.

The partnership between Blue Krewe and Drop includes a lease-to-own agreement for the bikes and a fee-for-service arrangement for software support. Blue Krewe will hire local operators.

“Blue Bikes promotes healthy exercise and brings more transportation options to residents and visitors alike, which has the potential to improve Louisiana’s historically poor health outcomes,” said Rod Teamer, Blue Cross director of diversity program business development.

In addition to the bicycles, Drop Mobility will provide a rental app and custom operations software.