Baronne bike lane gets go-ahead; one traffic lane to be removed on trial basis _lowres

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Cinder Amboise and Sarah Jacques bike down Baronne street Friday, November 7, 2014. A judge decided this week that City Hall can go ahead and install a new bike lane down Baronne, refusing to grant a permanent injunction sought by a group of business and property owners.

The revelation of an NOPD officer actively shaming, if not ticketing, motorists in the Baronne Street bike lane in New Orleans made me think of my own two-wheeled experiences. I, like many, am not shy about expressing displeasure at near-death experiences when motorists behave irresponsibly or aggressively. That means I generally shout, and I am observant enough to notice that my voice carries, though I am certain that most who hear me only hear and see an aggressive, angry cyclist and not someone who was just passed illegally by a car going thrice his speed and within far less than the 3-foot legal passing distance.

I want, therefore, to issue a blanket apology and implore folks to do something. The next time you see or hear a cyclist protesting (loudly), before you label them a nuisance, consider what is required to cause someone who is essentially tripping on endorphins (that daily exercise is great) to suddenly become so enraged and incensed. Consider that most cyclists obey the traffic law as well as most motorists and only have problems because motorists either don't know the law as it pertains to cyclists or, more often, simply don't see it as important as things like stopping at red lights, despite the fact that the two are equally deadly if disobeyed. People on bicycles should be responsible, but motorists are equally if not more on the spot due to the extra 2,800 pounds most are carrying around them. Illegally putting the squeeze on a cyclist to shave 20 seconds off your commute isn't just stupid; it could end up putting them in the ground and you behind bars.

If you really want to protest something, don't protest bike riders. Protest the extremely lax approach the city has taken toward building infrastructure. Studies consistently show that when true separated bike infrastructure is built, not only does safety improve on the street but traffic actually flows better due to people on bikes having their own space, separate from motor traffic. Don't let anyone tell you there is not room for it either, as a simple check with a surveyor's wheel dispels this myth on all but the narrowest streets. So the moral is, don't get angry at bike riders for being in your way. Get angry at city and state officials who build half-hearted attempts at bike infrastructure that puts them in your way. Trust me, they don't want to be there any more than you want them to be.

Taylor Scheinuk