NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - After the city's fifth cycling fatality this year, City Council leaders are calling for action to increase visibility and make roadways safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
New Orleans police investigated the most recent fatality Monday afternoon, when a 52-year old cyclist riding lake-bound on Canal near Broad was hit and killed by a dump drunk. While the exact cause and fault is still undetermined in that accident, cycling experts note that drivers and cyclists are about equally responsible for collisions.
"Statistics show that it's about half caused by somebody on a bike making a bad decision, versus half caused by somebody in a car maybe not paying enough attention or giving enough room to somebody on the bike," Charlie Thomas with Bike Easy said.
In fact, bicycles are considered vehicles when they hit the road, which means riders must following all traffic laws, including stopping at stop signs and traffic lights.
"We'll also see people riding against traffic, which is a big no, no. It's against the law, and it's not a good practice at all, particularly, because if somebody's pulling onto that street from a side street, they're looking toward the direction of travel - they're not looking against it to see where you might be coming," Thomas said.
That's exactly why cycling experts like Dustin Drewes, a cycling coach, say people on bikes need to always be aware, even if they're following the laws.
"You have to assume that nobody sees you, ever, because, sure, you could be dead right? You could have the right away, but people are going to pull out in front of you, and no one is trying to kill anyone. But people just aren't paying attention, which can be deadly," Drewes said.
The City Council is planning a meeting to increase safety for cyclists. Members also plan to create a Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Advisory Committee that will meet later this month.