I’m not your Mom and this is not another Tales guide. I’m not gonna remind you to drink plenty of water, wear sunscreen/bug spray/sensible shoes, not flash your money around, keep your wits about you or, as Steve Winwood so artfully sang, “While you see a vegetable, eat it.” (That was him, right?)
Nah. You’ve been to Tales of the Cocktail before. Or, if you have even one toe in the industry, you know someone who has. So you long ago learned not to wear all white in a torrential New Orleans downpour; leave your ID/credentials/tickets/phone charger/dignity in a hotel room; pack Vegas heels; or finish every cocktail offered to you, and made a mental note to NOT. DO. THAT.
But inasmuch as this Tales represents a potential paradigm shift for the 16-year-old event with its new ownership, grants,health initiatives and more, there’s another Tales game-changer afoot. Or rather, on two wheels.
BLUE BIKES, y’all!
New Orleans’ bike-share program launched in December 2017, is easy to set up, easy to use and can get you from Point A to Point B(eignets…) as fast as your little legs can carry you.
Using the app’s map you can easily locate bikes near you (or near where you plan to be later) and even reserve one while you walk toward it (so no one can snatch it from you!). Just punch in your account number and personal four-digit pin into the panel on the back, unlock and go. Each bright blue, metal cruiser has a comfy, adjustable-height seat, three gears, a bell and a huge front basket for all your Tales swag. When you’re done, you can park your bike at a designated hub rack or secure it to something not marked “Don’t secure bikes here” (i.e. not the trees in front of the Monteleone, mmmkay?).
The upside? Huge.
1. Blue Bikes are cheap. There are multiple memberships, including a $.13 per minute pay-as-you-go plan, which is perfect if you’re only in town for a few days. If you’re staying longer, with the $15 monthly plan (you can do just one month), your first cumulative 60 minutes each day are free—even if that means six 10-minute rides!
2. Blue Bikes help reduce car traffic in the Quarter. Yay!
3. They encourage safe exploration at a speed where you better can take in all the beauty of the area. Double yay!
4. It’s healthier than Ubering everywhere, you lazy bum.
Furthermore, if you need to make a few stops you can put your bike on hold for up to an hour so that it’ll be waiting for you when it’s time to make your next move.
Of course, there are also safety considerations. First, riding a bike requires all the coordination and attention of driving, so if you’ve been drinking, your best bet is still to Uber or Lyft safely to your destination, door to door. Period.
Second, if you’ve walked even five feet in this town, you know that the roads are, um, interesting. You have to be VIGILANT for potholes, construction, portalettes (a.k.a. port-a-potty), pedicabs, tourists with maps and drivers who give zero f@%ks about that double-secret guerilla Croatian vermouth launch snowcone happy hour you’re trying to get to. (No pictures, please.)
Assuming you’re willing to keep the tippling in check and your eyes on the road, here’s what you need to know:
Step 1. Download the Social Bikes NOLA app. Pick your plan, pick your pin.
Step 2. READ the FAQs.
Step 3. Use the map to locate a nearby bike. On the back, behind the seat, enter your account number and pin.
Step 4. Now you’re ready to pedal over to that virtual-reality piña-harvest simulation pop-up in the back of a Dollar General store.
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