Yesterday morning in New Orleans, a person on a bicycle was killed in a crash with a person in a motorized vehicle at the intersection of Claiborne Avenue and St. Louis Street. Whenever there is news of a person being killed on a bike, for many of us, there is immediate fear and sadness. Fear because we are people on bikes that know and love many others who are also people on bikes. Sadness for the people who are forced to suffer through the pain of losing a loved one.

People on bikes are of all ages and demographics. Traffic fatality victims may be parents, coworkers, commuters, organization members, friends, students, and partners. Whether on foot, bike, or in a vehicle, we are all people.

Traffic fatalities are always difficult for families, friends, and communities, due to the loss of life as well as the fact that many crashes are largely avoidable through proper street infrastructure, education, and safe, defensive navigation techniques. Regardless of the reason for the crash, Bike Easy realizes that with any death, it is more important than ever to continue its mission to educate people on foot, bikes, and in cars with resources, and advocate for improved infrastructure to coexist safely on New Orleans’ streets. Public officials and lawmakers need to understand that certain populations are more vulnerable. There is an imbalance in where public funds and focus are often placed which ultimately leaves certain populations with less protections and benefits.

This traffic fatality comes at a time when New Orleans City Council members unanimously voted to remove a portion of the few miles of protected bike lanes we have in the city. Whether on New Orleans’ East Bank or West Bank, Bike Easy’s direction remains the same when it comes to our vision of “safe, convenient transportation options for everyone and the freedom to get around easily.” It is imperative that city planners and council members continue to support and create street infrastructure for all people navigating the city’s streets, regardless of the mode of transportation. Certain large traffic corridors, such as Claiborne and Esplanade Avenues, are streets that have witnessed numerous injuries and fatalities over the years for people on bicycles. Earlier this month there was a hit-and-run crash near Franklin Avenue and I-610 that killed a bicyclist as well as another hit-and-run crash on Esplanade Avenue that left a nurse leaving the Jazz Festival critically injured.

The City of New Orleans recently launched the Transportation Safety Dashboard which shows an increase in traffic fatalities and injuries between 2017-2021. The data is alarming and shows that between 2020 and 2021 there was an increase of traffic fatalities (31%), injuries (24%), hit and runs (15%), as well as fatal, serious, and moderate crashes (21%). These figures show a dire need to shift behaviors on the road and the need for more life saving infrastructure.

Traffic crashes can be reduced through the addition of more buffered bike lanes, better signage, marked crosswalks, and better public transit options. Also important is the education of people who operate motor vehicles of the laws regarding people on foot and bicycle as well as best practices for interacting with people on bikes while on the road. Bike Easy offers a People Friendly Driving course which aims to address this need for educating people driving vehicles on how to share the road.

To further support its mission of education, advocacy, and community outreach, Bike Easy is proud to be a partner of New Orleans Complete Streets Coalition whose stated purpose and goal is “street infrastructure that doesn’t leave people driving, biking, or walking to navigate incomplete connections that force everyone into unsafe and confusing situations.” Through this partnership, Bike Easy remains committed to making New Orleans’ streets easy, safe, and fun for everyone.

Be safe and keep bicycling!