By SHANNON SIMS AUG 1, 2017
In a city known for bar-hopping, endless festivals, and maybe even a little debauchery, a bike path isn’t the likeliest place for a budding social scene. But in a narrow strip of central New Orleans, the 2.6-mile Lafitte Greenway is poised to become a new hub of activity—a commuter path that’s a destination in its own right.
Historically a transportation corridor, the Lafitte Greenway cuts through neighborhoods rich and poor, linking several of New Orleans’s disparate yet adjacent communities. Since it officially opened in November 2015, the Lafitte Greenway has quickly become the central artery of New Orleans' bike culture. It’s also steadily attracting attention from developers looking to build apartments, offices, coffee shops, and even a place to grab a drink. In March, the city granted its first permit for a pathside bar, and in June officials outlined plans to add sports and art facilities, playgrounds, and more.
According to the latest Real Estate Market Analysis from the University of New Orleans, more than $100 million worth of projects along or near the greenway have been built or are in the works. Before long, the greenway may become a very New Orleans bike path, where cyclists stop to socialize as they make their way around town—whether they’re heading to festivals, to the French Quarter, or just on the way home from work.
It might seem surprising that one of America’s hottest, muggiest cities seems ready for a bustling two-wheeled social scene. Biking here can be a challenge. Even if you manage to dodge the mind-bogglingly large potholes and the roving packs of drunken tourists, the humidity will leave any cyclist drenched in sweat. Still, New Orleans has quickly gained a reputation as a surprisingly bikeable city. It’s small and flat, and residents are increasingly seeing little reason to drive. The city now ranks 10th in the U.S. in the percentage of residents who cycle to work each day, and a new bike-share system is slated to launch this fall.