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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bike Lane advocate 2011 Urban Hero - J. Ruley

Bike Lanes shouldn't be a second thought. 
Many people use transportation other than cars, trucks, motorcycles.   Some people walk, take the bus, or ride a bike.  Complete Streets acknowledges this. And this is why NorthWest Carrollton as asked and will keep asking for bike lanes on Earhart and down Carrollton Avenue.

A favorite quote from the Nola.Com article below: “Recreational riders stay out of traffic,”  
Other cyclists ride for transportation and THAT is what we need our planners and Public Works staff to understand and advocate.  Non-recreational riders, pedestrians are as important as cars. Jennifer Ruley gets it.   Hands clapping Jennifer. 

See FULL ARTICLE below from
When Jennifer Ruley was growing up in Algiers in the 1980s, smack in the middle of seven siblings, her busy mother didn’t have time to drive all the kids to school. Jennifer, like most children in the neighborhood, biked or walked to Alice Harte Elementary School.
jennifer ruley.jpgJennifer E. Ruley advises the city of New Orleans on cycling issues. The Intersection of Filmore and St. Bernard is now the hub of bike lanes in Gentilly Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Today, as a bicycle and pedestrian engineer advising New Orleans City Hall, Ruley, 41, works to make the city safer and more accessible for walkers and bikers of all ages. For her efforts, Ruley will be recognized Saturday as the Urban Conservancy’s 2011 Urban Hero.
“I always think of her when I see the bike icons on the street,” said Dana Eness, executive director of the Urban Conservancy. “She really embodies everything we are trying to do in terms of creating a better connected, more walkable, pedistrian-friendly city.”
Ruley came to the city “on loan” from the Louisiana Public Health Institute through a public health grant in 2004. With a master’s degree in civil engineering and a decade of experience in the public and private sectors, her job was to help New Orleans neighborhoods become more walkable and bikeable.
That work later included helping the city implement new bikeway and pedestrian safety projects under the 2005 $240 million, five-year capital bond issue, which represented the first time bike and pedestrian projects would be explicitly funded through the city’s capital improvement plan, said Ryan Berni of the Mayor’s Office.
Hurricane Katrina gave the process a jolt, as major and minor roads all over the city had to be repaired, Berni said. Meanwhile, attitudes toward bikers and walkers were becoming more welcoming.
Ruley acknowledged that New Orleans is considered walkable because it’s compact and has commerce woven into the fabric of neighborhoods. But better sidewalks, curb ramps and signals can take a city to the next level: pedestrian-friendly.
“With time, this has become much more mainstream,” Ruley said. “It’s about people. It’s about health.”
It’s a topic that’s close to her heart personally, as well as professionally. As a college student and then a young professional in Baton Rouge, Ruley biked for recreation, riding up to 80 miles a week along trails and in parks. “Recreational riders stay out of traffic,” she pointed out.
Then she started biking to work. “Commuters are a whole different animal,” sharing the road with sometimes-grudging drivers, Ruley said.
Before Ruley leaves her Bayou St. John home, she straps on a helmet. She’s had a couple of close calls when cars turned in front of her or swerved as if they were deliberately trying to hit her. She’s lived — and biked — in many areas of the city, including Gentilly, the university section, Bywater and her home turf, Algiers. On a busy road, a designated bike lane is safer and “legitimizes that user,” she said.
“It is rewarding to see the large number of people using these new facilities and the positive comments I’ve heard from the community,” Ruley said. “Bicyclists and pedestrians can be a tough crowd to please. So it’s nice to know when we get it right.”
With the goal of improving health, City Hall has seen a golden opportunity to add bike paths, bike ways and walkways without adding huge costs, Berni said. Since the storm, the city has quadrupled the miles of bike-friendly asphalt in the city, he said.
The engineer commutes to the CBD in her work clothes — a short-sleeved polo shirt, corduroys and loafers on a recent day. She locks her black “commuter clunker” right outside the front door of City Hall while drivers jockey for expensive downtown parking spots. She also hops on the bike to inspect road construction around the city, making sure that bike lanes or walkways are built correctly and channel users as intended.
If it rains, “I get wet,” she shrugs.
In her free time, Ruley walks her beagles, Linus and Humphrey, on the banks of Bayou St. John, and volunteers with an animal rescue group. She also travels the world and has found ideas to make streets more accessible to walkers and bikers.
Eness, of the Urban Conservancy, says the roadwork is making an impact. “Once you have safe, easy ways for people to travel by something other than car, and you pair that with accessiblity with bike racks, you see those bike racks being used. Every single bike rack is chock-a-block full of bikes,” she said. “That either means people are getting there who couldn’t before, or you are getting relief in some of those congested parking areas.”
Jennifer Ruley will be recognized as the 2011 Urban Hero at the Urban Conservancy’s 10th anniversary fundraiser, “You Are Here” at the Icehouse, 2803 St. Philip St. in Mid-City. There will be silent live auctions of local products, along with “street baskets” featuring items reflecting the character of local commercial corridors. There will be live music, and a pedicab company will offer complimentary rides. For event information, contact Keely Hill at 504.561.7474 or Tickets may be purchased online at or at the door.
Annette Sisco is community news editor. She can be reached at or 504.826.3310.

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