Letter From New Orleans
“The dirt and debris
make it a very difficult ride”…New Orleans cyclist Dar Wolnik tours her beloved city
Published October 26th, 2005 by C.I.C.L.E.
By Dar Wolnik :: USA
I spent the week of October 13-17 riding around the city of New
Orleans, and was one of maybe 5 cyclists I saw.
The dirt and debris
make it a very difficult ride, especially when you throw in very large
military vehicles driving at top speed with little regard for
I started at the very tip of Uptown, which had almost no flooding, and
rode into the French Quarter and then to the Marigny and Bywater
Those neighborhoods had some flooding, but not the
levels that my neighborhood, MidCity suffered.
As you ride toward
MidCity , the destruction is so incredible the closer you get to the
Lakefront , that you wonder how long it will take to have people living
here at all.
I stopped at my favorite coffeehouse to say hello and catch up. With no
electricity and about a foot of waterline inside, the owners spend
their days cleaning and throwing out items. They sit on the front
benches, talking to customers who come by to check on them, even though
no coffee is for sale.
The talk is about 3 things: when the electricity might come back on in
that neighborhood, what stores are open to get food or water, and what
you did during the storm, and your plans now.
I said goodbye to
almost a dozen neighbors and friends who are leaving for a few months,
a year or forever. They are school teachers, city workers, employees of
corporations and are moving to where the work is. They almost all hope
to come back.
Grassroots bicycle efforts are going on now.
Dar Wolnik is a community activist in New Orleans and works for
marketumbrella.org which initiates and promotes projects for the local
economy. (Farmers markets, fair trade markets, local currencies
Dar’s background is in grassroots organizing in the MidWest, as well as
retail management. She is a board member of Metro Bicycle
and co-coordinator of The Campaign For Sustainable Transit. She rides
one of her 2 green bikes around beautiful New Orleans year round.