Council passes resolution to promote bike safety after listening to numerous concerned cyclists

Bike safety resolution approved

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The New Orleans City Council unanimously passed a resolution to increase bike safety.

This comes after three cyclists were killed and seven others injured within a 10-day span.

Bicyclists attended the council meeting, pushing for changes that would increase their safety on the roads.

Council Member-at-Large Jason Williams drafted a resolution urging the mayor to act fast.

"We need updates to the physical streets as well as to our collective community consciousness. This resolution encourages the executive branch of government to do everything possible with all due speed to expedite these efforts," Williams said.

The resolution looks to improve the five most dangerous intersections, add bicyclist signage, colorful lane markings, and increased lighting.

Bike advocacy groups like Bike Easy proposed physical barriers to separate bike from car lanes.

Council members also considered creative methods used in other countries, like designating sections of streets for weekly car-free days.

"We also have to look at some other things, and this resolution I hope can do that about having car-free zones," Williams said.

The urgent push to pass these rules comes ahead of big events, including French Quarter Fest and Jazz Fest.

“I think it is imperative that we take some specific actions immediately, and the reason for that is because we have two very major festivals happening next month, and those are two festivals that are known to have many bike riders heading to those festivals,” Council Member-at-Large Helena Moreno said.

Bike safety groups showed numerous pictures of vehicles parked in bike lanes, something council members want to strictly enforce.

“I don’t know what the fines are. I don’t know what the penalties are, but I’ve asked my staff to go and find out, to see if we can enforce, or better yet, we can implement penalties that can make it less palatable to block the bike lanes,” Council Member Jay Banks said.

"We do need our police officers to make stops, and write tickets when there are people parked in pathways," Williams said.

The council also acknowledged the role drunk driving played in the fatal crash on Esplanade and touched on enforcement that would help promote road safety.

“We do have the ability to set up checkpoints and advertise those checkpoints, and let people know if you are to get tanked, leave your cars at home,” Williams said.

The mother of Sharee Walls, one of the victims from the Esplanade crash, addressed council members about the grief she hopes will turn into positive change.

“Get rid of the red tape, get rid of the, I don’t mean no harm, get rid of the windbagging, and do something, and do it now so no one has to go through this again,” Lois Benjamin said.

The resolution is now in the hands of Mayor Cantrell to enforce and implement.

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