NOPD cracking down on cyclists in Quarter, issuing fines

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wwltv.com

Posted on June 9, 2011 at 7:19 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 9 at 7:41 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS -- They're not hard to spot zipping through the chaotic French Quarter.

"You have mules, you have tourists, you have cars. Riding a bike, you have to be so careful to watch out for everyone,” said cyclist Lisa Lynn.

Lynn rides her bike almost everywhere. She's been doing it for a long time, which is why two warnings from police on the same day came as a real shock.

"I've been riding a bike in the French Quarter for 10 or 12 years and that's the first time I've been stopped for anything, I was like, ‘Wow!’” Lynn said.

Bikes not only rule the roads here, they're also ignoring traffic laws. Our camera caught at least a half dozen cyclists ignoring stop signs at Royal and St. Phillip streets.

When seen rolling through a stop sign, cyclist Brian Peterson said, "It's right in front of work! I look both ways, and if nobody is coming...”

It was the same story at Dauphine and Orleans streets, where people willingly pedaled against one-way traffic.

But the NOPD isn't turning a blind eye, issuing dozens of citations in the last month.

"There has been 61 citations issued to bicyclists,” said Jeffrey Walls, 8th District commander. “It’s more if someone sees a cyclist getting a citation. It prevents the others from doing it."

Lynn said, “I know people who have gotten tickets, yeah. It's a big ticket.”

Ignore the traffic signs or the rules, and you could be slapped with a $111 ticket.

The push to make the French Quarter's sidewalks and roads safe is something Meg Lousteau applauds. Lousteau, the executive director of Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents and Associates, a group that represents property owners, said careless cyclists are making the quarter's sidewalks and roads hazardous.

"When you step out of the door onto a sidewalk and there is a cyclist coming down on the sidewalk, and in fact you do get hit, that's a problem,” Lousteau said.

With police patrols up and more bikes weaving through the Quarter, one Bywater cyclist plans on paying closer attention.

“It's a giant game of chicken, where is everybody to go?” Peterson said. “It does potentially get dangerous.”

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