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Council member looks at ways to increase bicycle safety

"Having a stripe on a street on a piece of concrete is not going to stop a drunk driver from careening past that paint on the ground."

NEW ORLEANS - The city is taking a closer look at what needs to be done to help make the area more bicycle friendly. 

Bicyclists are prominent all over the city. In fact, some say they're seeing a growing number of bicyclists hit the road.

"I try and do everything I possibly can on the bike," said Clark Thompson. "Even with my kids too. I cycle to and from work every day so that's 8.6 miles round-trip."

However, after a driver hit multiple riders, killing two, the conversation about bike safety has gotten more serious.

"I was hit by a cab driver when I was 14," Thompson said. "Every moment I'm on my bike I know I'm a potential target. So I've got to ride with care and every action could be my last so I have to be careful every time."

"These issues have not been top of mind for some folks," said Council President, Jason Williams. "We have made advancements but not enough."

Williams is proposing a resolution that would help bicyclists and drivers share the road. It includes ideas like promoting rider awareness and increasing enforcement.

"When there is no enforcement it encourages people to take those chances but life is too valuable for that," he said.

The resolution also mentions making improvements to the city's bike lanes.

"Having a stripe on a street on a piece of concrete is not going to stop a drunk driver from careening past that paint on the ground," Williams added. "In Copenhagen, they have raised bicycle paths that actually protect the cyclists with parked cars. That's safe."

With alcohol suspected in this deadly crash on Esplanade, some also ask if there should be more DUI checkpoints.

"I think it's a deterrent," Williams said. "I think bringing back those checkpoints with maybe a little more zealousness could be and will be helpful."

"It's totally unreasonable to ask the police department to step up during Mardi Gras to do more than they already do, they're already over tasked," said Thompson. "Massive, physical barriers between motorists and bicyclists and pedestrians is the only solution here."

Whatever action the city chooses to take, will require some work. However, bicyclists commend that effort and are hopeful change will take place so tragedies like what happened last week, are prevented.

"I want my friends who are scared to ride, to feel safe," Thompson said. "Slow down, smell the roses, enjoy the ride. It's a beautiful city and there's no reason you have to be rushing around and hurrying to your next stoplight."

Eyewitness News asked the New Orleans Police Department if there were any checkpoints conducted during Carnival. A statement sent back, says:

"Over the 10-day period beginning February 22 and ending March 5, NOPD arrested 36 individuals for driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol more than doubling the number of DUI arrests made during Mardi Gras 2018. Safety along the parade route and other densely crowded areas was the top priority with a focused strategy toward targeting illegal guns and ensuring public safety."

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