At different points throughout the city of New Orleans, you can find decorated white bikes at almost every corner. These memorials are symbolic of far too many lives lost due to fatal crashes involving bicyclists, which in most instances could have been easily prevented.
I moved to New Orleans six years ago and have worked in the CBD ever since. My journeys take me to the CBD through the Garden District, which highlights the joys and frustrations of biking in New Orleans.
I and roughly 40% of my co-workers bike to work. When the pandemic hit, the lack of cars on the roads made it safer for bicyclists. Now that the city is returning to normal, aggression and lack of awareness toward bicyclists have also returned. The need for safer and accessible streets is needed now more than ever. Safer streets make our city better, more enjoyable, and combat climate change.
Aside from our infamous potholes, it’s not hard to notice the animosity returning toward bicyclists from fellow commuters. Upon the initial investment in bike lanes, the city of New Orleans said it would fine motorists for a variety of offenses, and for a brief period, they did. However, now, it seems like there’s no enforcement of these policies, and instead, bicyclists are being targeted.
In a common bicycling area of the Esplanade neighborhood (Esplanade and Rampart), I have personally seen a motorcycle cop writing up bicyclists for minor infractions, while motorists who were breaking the rules received no repercussions. As a community, we must unite to call out these inconsistencies and resolve them as a group. And in the end, the best way to ensure everyone is following the rules of the road is to make sure our streets are truly built to be shared, with clarity and space for everyone — whether driving, biking, walking.
There is no better feeling than taking in all this amazing city has to offer than by bike. So I hope that we reach the point where we can do it safely, together.