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Defender Picks


Bywater Attacks Prompt Bike La Femme Ride

by Ashley Rouen

Women’s bicycle collective Bike La Femme is hosting a bicycle ride in response to recent crimes against female cyclists in the Bywater on Tuesday (7-1) at 6 pm in Mickey Markey Park (Royal and Piety St.). The ride concludes at the Hi Ho Lounge (2239 St. Claude Ave.) with music and food from local pop-up Congresso Cubano.


They intend to voice the dangers female cyclists face when biking home alone at night, but in the aftermath of this Sunday's Bourbon Street shooting, their ride is also symbolic of the desire to see the end of senseless crime in our city.  


Bike La Femme founder and pedicabber Brooke Paulus hasn’t ridden her bike back to her Bywater home in two weeks because of bike muggings in the neighborhood.


About 1:30 a.m. on June 17, a woman was assaulted while on bicycle near the corner of Clouet St. and Burgundy St. Surveillance footage released by the Bywater Neighborhood Association showed a car following four bicyclists down Burgundy, then taking a left on Clouet.  A man then got out of the car, crossed the street and hid. 


When the woman passed the intersection on her bike, the man jumped out and attacked her. The two struggled, and the woman was able to break free. Neighbors then came out to help, and the man got back into the car and fled the area.


On June 7, another woman on a bicycling was attacked by a man on a bike and a woman in a car. The man assaulted the woman and attempted to rob her, but neighbors heard and came to assist before the situation escalated further.


“Girls don’t want to ride home at night anymore," Paulus said. "I want to empower them with this ride. Maybe some will begin bike pooling. People need an avenue to let the public know they’re not afraid.”


She hopes to spark solidarity among female commuters and encourage safety in numbers, so bicyclists feel free to ride whenever and wherever they please.


Riders will convene at the playground located at Royal and Piety but probably won’t get rolling until about 7 pm.


Participants are encouraged to dress up in attire that makes them feel tough and ready to fight crime.


“There’s going to be a sign making station, so anyone can make a statement. This isn’t just a social ride.  I want it to have meaning,” says Brooke.


Some of the signs will read, “Drop booty, not bullets," and  “Hot and bothered by high crime rates.”


Paulus is adamant about having a presence in the Bywater neighborhood, where the recent crime against female bikers took place.  She has been scoping out a good route, free of potholes and will also venture into parts of the Marigny and French Quarter.


Bike La Femme offers a safe place for female pedicab drivers to vent and hosts events educating members in self-defense.  They are looking to become a social aid and pleasure club by Mardi Gras season.

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