A New Orleans judge has issued a temporary restraining order barring the city from creating a bike lane down Baronne Street in the Central Business District.
The ruling, from interim Civil District Court Judge Lynn Luker, came after a group of business and property owners filed a lawsuit Friday aimed at derailing the city’s plans. The group’s legal challenge claims the bike lane will do “irreparable harm” to the people who own property and do business on Baronne — not to mention cyclists, whose “lives and limbs will be placed at great risk.”
But the crux of the group’s legal argument is whether Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration needs City Council approval to install the bike lane in the first place. Administration officials have said they can go ahead on their own. The lawsuit argues otherwise and asks the court to bar the city from carrying out its plans without a council vote.
Of course, leaving the decision with council members would not guarantee the bike lane won’t happen, but it would give opponents a venue to lobby publicly against it.
“The council’s authority to approve major changes to city streets is manifest throughout the City Charter, the city code and governing case law,” the lawsuit says.
Plaintiffs include the Good Shepherd School, a developer called Mintz Loft LLC, property owner Dotan Bonen and lawyer and business owner Gilbert Andry.
The city, the mayor, Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin and Mark Jernigan, director of the Public Works Department, are all named as defendants.
Luker has scheduled a hearing on the lawsuit for 1 p.m. Thursday.
The city recently announced plans to install the dedicated bike lane on Baronne from Canal Street to Calliope Street for a six-month pilot program starting Dec. 1. The city would study its impact during the trial run before deciding whether to make the change permanent.
At present, Baronne from Canal to Calliope is a one-way street with two traffic lanes and parking on either side of the roadway. During the pilot program, one traffic lane would be removed and replaced with a dedicated bike lane.