Lighthouse Employee Leads Tandem Bike Rides

When David Green first rode a tandem bike after going blind, he didn’t know what to expect. What he found was a renewed energy, stirring something inside of him that he wanted to share with others.

“When we started moving, and my feet started going around in a circular motion, it was like pure joy,” said Green. “It felt like I was riding a bike for the first time.”

He saved enough money to purchase his first tandem bike. And with his friend and pilot, Lee Phillips, began riding longer and more frequently, perfecting his skill and knowledge of tandem bike riding and growing a group of enthusiasts who wanted to join in the experience. His tandem bike collection has since grown to eight bikes, some of them he purchased, others were donated. Nearly 20 bike riders, from lead cycle instructors to sport bikers and social riders, convene on the second Saturday of every month for a ride through the city.

“I like to go places that our loved ones won’t go,” said Green, whose favorite ride is through the French Quarter. “A lot of us have visited the French Quarter before we went blind. Our loved ones don’t look at that area as a comfortable place to bring someone who is blind. I say, ‘That’s where we’re going to go!’”

The group departs from Green’s Mid-City home and rides through different areas of New Orleans. Routes can range from six miles to 11 miles, depending on the experience and ability of the riders. They travel on protected and low-stress bikeways, with the pilot offering a description of the scenes they are passing to their stoker, the person riding tandem.

Through years of research and first-hand experience, Green has become an expert and shares his tips and knowledge with his group. He trains both the pilot and the stoker on how to ride safely and properly. The pilots are also given instruction on how to be a sighted guide, an opportunity they practice when the group stops for lunch or other activities along the route.

“It’s a real meaningful and educational experience for everyone,” said Green.

Reporter Rob Masson recently interviewed Green about his tandem bike program which is scheduled to air February 14 on WVUE Fox 8.

Photo: Large group of tandem cyclists