Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Uber's latest gimmick: king cake delivery

Posted By on Tue, Jan 5, 2016 at 2:48 PM

The ride-sharing service Uber got lots of attention for delivering adoptable kittens and ice cream, but tomorrow — Twelfth Night, the beginning of Carnival season — Uber will be delivering Haydel's king cakes around the New Orleans metro area:
It’s carnival time, New Orleans! And to celebrate the official start of Mardi Gras, we are rollin’ out King Cakes On Demand again in New Orleans!

We’ve partnered with Haydel’s Bakery to deliver fresh king cakes right to your door. Experience on of the most famous Mardi Gras treats without leaving your house. Special King Cake deliveries will be made by the famous 610 Stompers and Panorama Jazz Band!
The king cake option will appear on the Uber app in the morning (see photo). Each king cake is $20, and the offer goes from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (or whenever king cake supplies are exhausted). 

It should be noted that Uber did its king cake promotion last year — but the cakes only were $15. Guess it's surge pricing.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

New Orleans CVB, downtown workers concerned about City Hall plan to double parking meter fees and extend hours

Posted By and on Wed, Nov 4, 2015 at 8:16 PM

A parking meter on Dumaine Street in the French Quarter. The city plans to increase parking rates in the Quarter and CBD to $3 per hour, and extend hours of meter operation until 10 p.m. - KEVIN ALLMAN
  • A parking meter on Dumaine Street in the French Quarter. The city plans to increase parking rates in the Quarter and CBD to $3 per hour, and extend hours of meter operation until 10 p.m.

Would you pay $3 per hour to park in the French Quarter, CBD and Warehouse District?

Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration is banking on it.

Early in the New Year, the city plans to hike parking meter rates across the city, particularly downtown. Rates would double in the tourism and nightlife district, and meter hours there would be extended from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. — a plan which Stephen Perry, president and CEO of the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), calls “an attack on the service industry workers who serve us.”

Konrad Kantor is one of those not happy with the plan. He’s the co-owner of El Libre, a Cuban cafe that opened in the Quarter in mid-September. “Over the last five or six years,” Kantor says, “I’ve paid about $4,000 in parking tickets, fines and towing.”

The owner of a corner bar in the Upper Quarter, who didn’t want to give his name, told Gambit he was concerned about the extra cost to his staff. “My customers, they take cabs or Uber, or they factor in the cost of parking,” he said. “But it’s really going to hit my employees.”

“My concern is not just the service industry — that’s just an inconvenience,” Kantor says, adding he’s worried about the effect on tourism, as well as people who drive into the Quarter from elsewhere in the city and from neighboring parishes. “The thing that’s a little disturbing is that it’s not a vote," he adds.

Indeed it's not. Sarah McLaughlin, communications director for Mayor Mitch Landrieu, clarified to Gambit that the rate hike will not require New Orleans City Council approval.

“Where is the money going to go?” Kantor asks.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Bicycle Second Line rolls May 17

Posted By on Tue, May 12, 2015 at 11:56 AM


Events like Critical Mass—swaths of cyclists gathered to take back the streets—erupt in cities across the country from week to week, with a decidedly political message. But in New Orleans, there's a bicycle second line instead.   

It's Bike Easy's annual, casual, slow ride that leaves from and ends in City Park on May 17, led by the Red Hot Brass Band—think fewer politics, more music. The pace averages seven to 10 miles per hour.

The ride leaves from the lawn in front of the sculpture garden at 10 a.m., though Bike Easy is asking people to register around 9 a.m. It's free and open to the public, with a chance to buy or renew a Bike Easy membership and contribute to the organization's campaign to make New Orleans streets safer for cyclists. If you become a member at the second line, you get a free Bicycle Second Line t-shirt.

The Fraternal Order of Police and the New Orleans Police Department will also be on hand to help people register their bikes. The ride will return to the park around 1 p.m. 

If you don't have a bike, you can rent one at RideTHISBike (231 Dauphine St.), where a portion of the proceeds will go to Bike Easy. 

After the ride, you'll only be a few blocks from Bayou Boogaloo

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Jefferson Parish says no to Uber

Posted By on Thu, Apr 30, 2015 at 5:39 PM


The Jefferson Parish Council voted to reject the expansion of transportation company Uber during its April 29 meeting, but it’s hard to say whether the Parish rejected Uber or whether the company rejected the Parish. In an email statement the day before the vote, Uber representatives wrote: “Unfortunately, Councilmembers are now considering changes to the existing draft that would threaten our ability to bring uberX and the jobs it creates to Jefferson Parish.”

Neither the bill nor the amendments passed, but Councilmember and co-sponsor of the bill Ben Zahn told Gambit that Uber supporters have failed to mention two important “facts” regarding consumer safety. “Uber must comply with the same application process that is required of other transportation/ride services in Jefferson Parish,” Zahn said in an email, “which mandates ‘pre-employment’ drug screenings of its drivers. All transportation/ride services must submit to a complete background check through a ‘fingerprint’ database, as opposed to a private company screening service.”

“We had been working on this legislation because when you look at Uber for the last five years, they have completely transformed the transportation industry,” Councilmember Cynthia Lee-Sheng told Gambit. “They are adding new cities all the time. I thought we should be proactive about putting forth a regulative framework, while at the same time ensure the safety of our individuals. At end of the day, Uber wasn’t even backing the legislation.”

Uber’s local general manager Tom Hayes said in a statement that “Jefferson Parish deserves the same access to safe rides and greater opportunity that residents in neighboring Orleans Parish, Baton Rouge, and hundreds of cities around the world depend on. We look forward to continuing to work to bring ridesharing to Jefferson Parish.”

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

UberX launches after all

Posted By on Thu, Apr 16, 2015 at 3:53 PM

A packed chambers as the New Orleans City Council debated a ridesharing ordinance Thursday, April 9. - JEANIE RIESS
  • A packed chambers as the New Orleans City Council debated a ridesharing ordinance Thursday, April 9.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed a ridesharing ordinance into law yesterday, and today, San Francisco-based ridesharing app Uber began operating in the city of New Orleans. That's less an a week after local representatives of the company said it would not be able to operate under the ordinance's legal restrictions. 

Riders can now hail an UberX car by turning on the app and requesting rides. Last year, Uber introduced its black car service into New Orleans, Uber Black, but the rides were expensive and rarely available in the city. 

Uber's local general manager Tom Hayes told Gambit that the company has "determined that it was possible for us to launch uberX and begin providing ridesharing services through our platform, and we will continue to work closely with the Council and the Mayor's office as we move forward on this effort."

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Bike to Work Week is now next week, thanks to the rain

Posted By on Tue, Apr 14, 2015 at 5:53 PM


Spring is a lovely season for Bike Easy's Bike to Work Week, but the rainy season comes with its own calendar busters. The annual event, which was also rescheduled last year due to rain, is taking another, literal raincheck this year (it was supposed to kick off tonight with a community forum on city cycling). Since the day was expanded to a whole week, the same schedule will apply.

Courtesy of
  • Courtesy of

On Tuesday, April 21 (that's next Tuesday), check out Let's Roll: Community Forum on the Future of Biking in New Orleans at Sojourner Truth Neighborhood Center (2200 Lafitte Ave.) from 7:30-9 p.m.

Wednesday, April 22 is Bike to Work Day, and neighborhood groups will meet up at 7 a.m. to ride down to Lafayette Square for a free breakfast and giveaways at 7:30 a.m. The meet up locations are as follows:

Algiers: Algiers Ferry Landing
Broadmoor: Laurel Street Bakery, 2701 S. Broad St.
Gentilly: Daddy's Donuts, 2051 Caton St.
Mid-City: Orleans Avenue at Bayou St. John
Uptown: Whole Foods Market, 5600 Magazine St. 

The Bike to Work Week Happy Hour follows on Thursday at Grand Isle Restaurant (575 Convention Center Blvd.) from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The Bike to Work Week Commute Challenge, however, is still ON, starting this week and extending into next, which will give you plenty of time to rack up those miles. 

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

City Council passes ridesharing ordinance, but Uber and Lyft representatives still dissatisfied

Posted By on Thu, Apr 9, 2015 at 4:50 PM

Supporters of Uber and Lyft flooded the City Council chambers at City Hall today. - JEANIE RIESS
  • Supporters of Uber and Lyft flooded the City Council chambers at City Hall today.

Today, after months of debate and reconfiguring, the New Orleans City Council passed a ridesharing ordinance that would allow digitally-based transportation companies to start giving rides in the city. The vote was 4-2, with Councilmembers Nadine Ramsey and James Gray opposed. Council President Stacy Head was absent.

But both Uber and Lyft, ridesharing businesses that have been instrumental in getting the legislation off the ground, told Gambit they likely would be unable to operate due to 85 amendments made to the ordinance. 

Both Uber and Lyft are particularly dissatisfied with amendment 85, a provision that would prevent transportation network companies or TNCs (the newly minted, digitally-based, for hire companies the ordinance creates) from interfering with passenger or driver litigation. That amendment gives local passengers the right to litigate here in New Orleans as opposed to traveling out of state to litigate binding arbitration.

"The eleventh-hour changes make it very difficult to operate in the market," Michael Masserman, Lyft's director of government relations, told Gambit. "Not just for Lyft and Uber but for anyone in the ridesharing industry. There's potentially overly burdensome litigation costs and insurance measures that have been legislated ahead of or before the private sector." 

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Getting to and from French Quarter Festival

Posted By on Wed, Apr 8, 2015 at 3:46 PM


With four days of live music on 23 stages, French Quarter Festival will draw crowds Downtown. French Quarter traffic will be restricted during the festival, so attendees should figure out a plan beforehand. Public transportation, bike valets, pedicabs and driving services such as Be My Designated Driver area alternatives to finding parking near the festival. Here are some of the restrictions and options during the festival.

From noon Thursday to 9 p.m. Sunday, vehicle entrance to the French Quarter will be restricted to residents, employees, hotel guests and for-hire vehicles with permits. Individuals can pick up appropriate permits at the NOPD Eighth District Station at 334 Royal St.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Ridesharing amendments passed on to full City Council without recommendation

Posted By on Wed, Apr 1, 2015 at 4:15 PM

Cab driver Dolores Montgomery tells the Transportation and Airport Committee that she knows financial hardship. "I'm in my cab seven days a week," she said. - JEANIE RIESS
  • Cab driver Dolores Montgomery tells the Transportation and Airport Committee that she knows financial hardship. "I'm in my cab seven days a week," she said.

Following presentations from Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration, Uber, the ridesharing platform Lyft and dozens of public comments, the New Orleans City Council Transportation and Airport Committee voted today to pass amendments to a ridesharing ordinance on to the full council without recommendation. 

The ordinance, to be decided by the full City Council on April 9, would create a special class of vehicles-for-hire for newly named Transportation Network Companies (TNCs). These would include app-based transportation companies like Uber and Lyft, both of which had representatives and Uber T-shirt-clad supporters at the meeting. Uber organized a small rally outside of City Hall the hour before it began, serving coffee and donuts to supporters, as it has done before nearly every Council meeting in which ridesharing has been discussed since last February. 

At the meeting, Uber held up plastic bins with 10,000 blue and white ping pong balls, which the company said represented the 10,000 signatures on a petition demanding the service in New Orleans. 

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Bike to Work Day? Try Bike to Work Week

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2015 at 6:03 PM

Cyclists commute during Bike to Work Week 2014 - DANIEL PASCHALL
  • Cyclists commute during Bike to Work Week 2014

Bike to Work Day, now in its fourth year, has been a staple of the growing cyclist and alternative transportation movement that continues to find its legs in New Orleans. This year, from April 13-17, local cycling advocacy group Bike Easy is turning a single day into an entire work week, with cycling challenges, events, a happy hour and a community forum it hopes will continue to promote the ever-growing popularity of two-wheel motion. 

Anneka Olson, Bike Easy's Community Education Manager, says the decision came from the organization's ambition to make the event even bigger than it has been in years past. "We've been able to grow every year," she says. "Last year we had over 750 riders participate, and we wanted to think more strategically about how we could continue to grow those numbers in a dramatic way. We thought that having these other events would make it possible for more people to participate."

Fear not: Bike to Work Day still exists, and it's April 15. This year, like last, riders can meet up for free coffee at designated meet-ups (exact addresses below the jump) in Algiers, Broadmoor, Gentilly, Mid-City and Uptown at 7 a.m. All of the neighborhood meet up trains will make their way to Lafayette Square, where Bike Easy, with the help of Bike to Work week sponsor Entergy, will serve free coffee and breakfast to participants from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

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