NEW ORLEANS —
Sarah Waits is heading home from another day at the office. Her preferred mode of transportation - a bike, but she admits there are sometimes problems when she chooses two wheels.
“A lot of cars don’t respect the bike lanes, people park in the bike lanes it can make it really difficult to navigate,” Waits said. “I think intersections can be pretty dangerous. That is also a lot of times where you will see bicycle deaths and fatalities. ”
Waits isn’t alone with these concerns. Her feelings were echoed by cyclists at a Wednesday night workshop held at Stuart Hall’s Cafeteria on South Carrollton Avenue.
“We are looking to talk about where people need to go, where do people ride and where are people looking for improvements,” said Jennifer Ruley with New Orleans’ Dept. of Public Works.
Since Hurricane Katrina, there have been at least 100 miles of lanes added in Orleans and surrounding parishes. The overall goal of the workshop is take input from both cyclists and drivers in order to properly expand, improve and connect the bike network.
“That’s a great deal of expansion, but it’s generally stripping, paint on the ground,” said Robert Henig Bell with Bike Easy. “That’s fine in a lot of cases, a traditional bike lane, but we want to see a core network of protected routes so you don’t have to be an adventurous, risk taker to get on a bike.”
Words Emily Britton likes to hear. WWL-TV’s Paul Dudley caught up with her as she was placing a sticker on a map to show leaders where a problem area is.
“Where are you going to place your dot?” Asked Dudley.
“I am going to put a dot right where my accident happened,” Britton said. “There’s actually a bike lane, but it’s not protected.”
Councilmember Joe Giarrusso talked about a plan to pay for it all.
“There’s some good news when it comes to bond money, the city is going to look at using some of that,” Giarrusso said.
Riders like Waits are happy to hear about the plans and are hoping for a positive outcome and smoother ride.
“I think all the community meetings are good first step,” Waits said.
After the workshops, the city will take all of the input and put together a plan. It should be out in two-to-three months. Also, it’s important to note the meetings are for drivers as well.
A list of all the meetings are below:
Thursday, April 11 — District C, KIPP Renaissance School, 3820 St. Claude Ave.
Monday, April 15 — District C, Algiers Regional Library, 3014 Holiday Drive
Tuesday, April 16 — District D, AmeriHealth Caritas, Louisiana 3155 Gentilly Blvd.
Wednesday, April 17 — District E, Martin Luther King Library, 1611 Caffin Ave.
Thursday, April 18 — District E, East New Orleans Regional Library, 5641 Read Blvd.