NEW ORLEANS - Kevin Louis rides his bike all of the time. What happened to him around 4 a.m. last Tuesday morning near Gentilly Boulevard and Elysian Fields last Tuesday caught him by surprise.
"I see the police officer in the Rite Aid parking lot, so I pass him and I come to this side right here on Gentilly and I'm biking this way going there," Louis said.
The officers threw on their lights and told him he was riding down the wrong way. According to Louis, they asked him why he didn't have any lights and for his bike registration. When Louis told him he didn't have any, they gave him a ticket.
"He said if you get you some lights and registration, when you go to court, the ticket should be reduced or dropped," Louis said.
Louis says the next day, he looked at the cost of the ticket and was shocked to see that we have given four offenses totaling nearly $1,000.
"Once I saw that it was $920, I was like whoa," Louis said.
NOPD charged him with "improper lane usage, traffic laws apply to person riding bicycles, bicycle equipment, and bicycle registration required."
"That's more than my rent. That's more than a number of different things," Louis said.
"I think the police has a lot of discretion in terms of issuing a citation," Charlie Thomas, Louis' attorney said.
Thomas works with the firm Huber, Thomas and Marcelle. They are statewide attorneys for bike law. He is calling the prices for these citations outrageous and believes there is no use registration ordinance in the city.
"Even though NOPD might have your bicycle information on file, we're unaware of any circumstance where this has led to the recovery of a stolen bike or really any sort of benefit," Thomas said.
Eyewitness News reached out to the NOPD, which says it is their role to enforce existing laws. A spokesperson also says bicyclists can and will be cited if they're found violating any laws.
Louis says he did get a phone call from the NOPD and an email from Mayor LaToya Cantrell.
Louis says he realizes he was going the wrong way.
"I'm willing to pay a fine for that. But $300!? Twice too! It feels like I'm being extorted. I thought that was super excessive."
The NOPD also says the City council unanimously passed the biking ordinance last year. The NOPD arguing they are merely enforcing the laws that are currently on the books. The NOPD also says there are several places you can properly register your bikes across the city.
The New Orleans bike laws are as follows:
•Sec. 154-1403. - Registration required.
No person who resides in the city shall ride or propel a bicycle upon any street unless such bicycle has been registered and a registration plate is attached thereto. This section shall be applicable to new residents of the parish at the expiration of 90 days.
(Code 1956, § 38-192)
•Sec. 154-1404. - Registration application and fee.
Application for a bicycle registration shall be made upon the form provided by and shall be made to the superintendent of police. There shall be a registration fee of $3.00 for all bicycles with a 20-inch wheel size or larger. The dealer shall collect such fee at the time of sale, issue bicycle registration decal, and remit the fee to the superintendent of police along with the application for registration.
This charge becomes effective as of February 1, 1987.
Exemption for the payment of fees shall be for all bicycles under the cost of $100.00.
(Code 1956, § 38-193)
•Sec. 154-1405. - Issuance of registration; record.
The superintendent of police or any police officer assigned such duty by him, or the superintendent of fire or any employee of the department of fire when assigned such duty in writing by the mayor, upon receiving proper application therefor, may issue a bicycle registration plate to the owner thereof. Each new owner shall register such bicycle in accordance with the provisions of this article. They shall not register any bicycle when they know or have reasonable grounds to believe that the applicant is not the owner of or entitled to the possession of such bicycle.
The superintendent of police and the superintendent of fire shall keep a record of the number of each registration, the date issued, the name and address of the person to whom issued and the number on the frame of the bicycle for which issued and a record of all bicycle registration fees collected by them.
It shall be the duty of the superintendent of fire to forward a true copy of the record of each registration made by him, or any employee of the department of fire, to the superintendent of police.
The superintendent of police may authorize bicycle dealers to register and attach registration plates to bicycles. All such persons authorized to register and attach registration plates to bicycles shall forward immediately to the superintendent of police true copies of such registration. It shall be a misdemeanor to fail to furnish such copies or to furnish false or fraudulent records to the superintendent of police.
(Code 1956, § 38-194)
•Sec. 154-1406. - Attachment of registration plate.
The superintendent of police or other authorized person upon issuing a bicycle registration shall also issue a registration plate bearing the registration number assigned to the bicycle, and the name of the city. The superintendent of police or other authorized person shall cause such registration plate to be firmly attached to the frame of the bicycle for which it has been issued in such a position as to be plainly visible. No person shall remove a registration plate from a bicycle during the period of ownership for which it is issued except in the event the bicycle is dismantled and no longer operated upon any street in the city.
Here is a list of bike shops in New Orleans NOPD partners with to register bikes:
1. Bayou Bicycles
2. Bicycle Michael’s
3. GNO Cyclery (only bikes bought at that shop)
4. Massey’s Bicycle
Anyone who purchases a bike at one of these stores can register it.