Hundreds of NOLA cyclists fill street for 'ghost ride'

Hundreds of NOLA cyclists fill street for 'ghost ride'
Published: Sep. 18, 2015 at 1:51 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 18, 2015 at 2:06 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The first annual Nola Social Ride Ghost Bike Second Line saw hundreds of cyclist take to the streets to honor the riders killed in the last year.

"We realize that at any given moment, we've all had close calls, any one of us could be represented by a ghost bike and that's not a good feeling, so we're just asking for awareness," said Bob Rodrigue, who helped organize the ride.

The ghost bikes, typically painted white, are usually chained near the location of a cycling fatality as a memorial. Some riders, though, want more penalties for drivers who kill cyclists. Riders pointed to the case of Howard Vidrine, sentenced to five years in prison for hitting and killing triathlete Frank Guinn. Vidrine only served 14 months of his sentence, because of "good-time" and credit earned for classes taken in prison.

But that doesn't sit well with riders, who feel they put their lives on the line when they hit the streets.

"Life in prison with no parole is not too serious for me. You take a father away and leave a wife and two kids, like the triathlete there, that's brutal," Rodrigue said.

Not every cyclist, however, thinks stricter penalties will make a difference.

"If it's just driving and someone gets hit and killed, it might not be the right thing to do, to jail someone and mess up their life like that. I think we need other changes and incentives to make people drive better," said Woodsin Joseph, a bike safety instructor.

"I personally would settle for just more awareness on everybody's part. I don't believe there are motorists out there who are targeting bicyclists," said rider Bill Lopez.

If cyclists do want to increase penalties for crimes like negligent homicide, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison, they would have to take their pleas to the Capitol.

"If they want to change it, they have to go to the Legislature, have someone propose a bill, have it pass, and it would be enacted in the late summer of 2016," said FOX 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti.

Cyclists are expected to follow the same rules as drivers when riding on the road.

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