NolaCycle is a project aimed to create a high quality cycling map of New Orleans. Cycling maps include information beyond just streets and their names that benefits cyclists. In our map, we highlight the pavement quality, car travel speed, lane width, and special caution areas (busy intersections, man-eating potholes, or high accident areas). Volunteers help to collect this data by attending mapping events.
The information is then digitized to make a map of the data we collected to help cyclists - young, old, local, and tourist alike - navigate New Orleans.

Check out the blog for updates on the project, ways to get involved, and volunteer mapping events!

If you have questions, feel free to make a public comment on the blog entry or e-mail us directly at

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Rim and Spoke: Navigating New Orleans by Bike

Welcome to a series of posts on cycling in New Orleans intended to help you navigate on two wheels. It's named after roads in the old part of town, which, when you look at a map, look like parts of your bike wheel.

There are a few types of geographical quirks to New Orleans. Some we have in common with our sister cities in southeast Louisiana--others are unique to our estuarine, industrialized metro area. There are many tricks to navigating by bicycle--especially for those of us who are small, inexperienced, or just don't want to deal with cars. I hope to introduce new cyclists, or new New Orleans cyclists to the city and its tricks so we can all ride a little lighter on our sinking roads.

Rim and Spoke

You can use these parts of your bike, the rim and the spoke, as a schematic to the older parts of the city. The city was originally designed along the French "arpent" system, which assigns lots perpendicular to the River, rather than the "township and range" system used in most cities in the U.S. as well as the newer, lower, more American New Orleans.

The Arpent system is why there are many streets that "disappear" as you ride from the River to the Lake while uptown, and many streets that come from nowhere as you ride River to Lake when downtown. Because the river meanders this way and that, the grid shifts direction. Carrollton meets Esplanade at the park, despite the fact that they both run River to Lake. Tchoupitoulas begins pointing south from Canal St, and ends up uptown pointing west into Audubon Park.

"Rim" streets are St. Charles, Claiborne, and Tchoupitoulas, (as well as Liberty, Prytania, St. Claude, and Laurel) and "Spoke" streets are Carrollton, Jefferson, and Jackson (don't forget Joseph, Leonidas, Franklin, and Washington).

As you decipher the city's curves, you can use this schema to juke around without getting disoriented if you have to avoid a familar street for the cars.

Unless you're in Broadmoor. Then you're lost.

scott eustis

Next Time: The River Built Everything
*You can learn more about this from city geographers like Craig Colton and Richard Campanella.

1 comment:

  1. love these navigation posts. keep 'em coming plz.