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New Orleans bike groups hit the brakes after event draws big crowd

The organizer said he does not want Get Up N Ride to be another issue for the mayor to deal with.

NEW ORLEANS — Get Up N Ride is putting the brakes on its weekly light-up bike parade after Tuesday night’s gathering brought out hundreds of people and harsh criticism. 

The ride has gone on since 2015, with neon lighted bikes, music and sometimes hundreds of people. 

“It just started out with a few people and over time it just grew and got bigger and bigger,” said organizer Blake Owens. 

Tuesday night was no exception, which is why you won’t be seeing them for the next few weeks. 

Owens has put the brakes on the event, after a photo posted on Facebook showed dozens of riders crowded onto Magazine Street, with few masks in sight. The post drew sharp criticism from commenters. 

Owen said in the photo, the ride had just stopped for some to use the restroom and others to get something to eat. He says he understands how it looks to people concerned about crowd size, and he does not want Get Up N Ride to be another issue for the mayor to deal with. 

Along with his business partner, he made the decision to temporarily suspend the Tuesday night rides. 

“This is our decision, we weren’t shut down,” Owens said.

“We want to do it for the mayor, kind of make her job a little easier. Not that we agree with some of the critique, but it’s just not a battle we’re interested in fighting right now.”

Under the city’s Phase 3.2 guidelines, there are no clear rules for outdoor, public bike rides. When asked about this incident, Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s office deferred to NOPD.

For now, Owens says he isn’t interested in pushing the envelope.

“That’s no biggie. We’ll be back, were not going anywhere, but we can shut it down, maybe tighten up a few things and see where the city goes you know?”

Although Get Up N Ride has suspended its Tuesday night gatherings, Saturday it is hosting a Bike N Vote from the French Market to the Smoothie King Center to get people to the polls. 

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