Algiers residents not happy with new protected bike lanes

Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 10:43 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Backlash over new protective bike lanes in Algiers has prompted proposed changes already. Councilmember Freddie King III has introduced an ordinance aimed at easing some of the concerns.

“If it was a situation where you had dozens upon dozens using it I don’t think people would complain but people are saying I don’t think there are enough bikers to justify,” King said.

King says the new configuration of bike lanes on MacArthur and Newton are drawing a lot of complaints about traffic. At a public discussion Wednesday night, residents and motorists said the barriers and decreased space on the roadway does not make sense and in some cases can be dangerous to drivers.

King’s ordinance would eliminate the flex pole barriers, part of the protections these newly designed lanes provide.

Cyclists who use the lanes say the barriers and extra space are the difference between life and death when it comes to reckless drivers who often can’t see them in the lane.

Aaron Michler with the Firefighters’ union chimed in at the meeting to say the poles make it impossible for firetrucks to turn in a lot of spots.

These protected lanes go beyond just paint and barriers, they also switch the side drivers can park on to create another layer of protection for cyclists from traffic.

Residents say that causes their cars to get hit.

Some say car accidents have increased, while others say they have gone down because the one lane slows drivers. That data was not available at the meeting due to an absence of a representative from Public Works, but advocacy group Bike Easy says they know for sure injuries among cyclists have gone down.

“I don’t think we should all be playing urban planners, I think they were placed there for a reason,” executive director Allene LaSpina said. “I think community feedback is important. I do think that they asked for data that should be supplied to better understand why these were placed there, but I think the numbers and the statistics of injuries going down prove a point and people have to put value in that.”

King wants to be clear this ordinance will only remove the poles, not the lanes themselves, and it will only affect 2.2 miles of these paths from Woodland to General DeGaulle on MacArthur and from Behrman to Pacific on Newton.

The ordinance goes to the full council next Thursday.

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