The following letter was sent to every Council Member and Mayor laToya Cantrell in preparation for the City Council Regular Meeting held on September 1, 2022. It was meant to give context to the Algiers bike lane issues, and make a call to action about it. It was also meant to acknowledge the fact that a lot of public input – via online public comments submitted for different meetings – has been ignored.
I’m reaching out to you today to ask you to take a moment to look at what is happening in Algiers in regards to the protected bike lanes on Newton and MacArthur. While this does not affect every District directly, the repercussions of what is happening are a real threat to the progress of the city.
What was shocking about this Resolution proposal, is the lack of acknowledgement in regards to the process that was actually held before the bike lanes were implemented. Public comments for this meeting here.Also note, that since there were so many comments on this issue, a limited time was given to read the comments, so most of your constituents’ voices were not heard at the Chamber.
On July 14th, Bike Easy presented at the Transportation Committee Meeting. Our focus was to educate the Council on the current state of bicycling in New Orleans, present our programming, highlight the people whose lives we affect with our work, and a call to action to complete the build out of the Moving New Orleans Bike Network, and to support Safe Routes to School Programs and bike safety education in schools. To access the agenda and our presentation, click here. 13 comments were submitted online and 1 comment made in person. Waiting on minutes and comments from the city.
On Monday, August 29th, DPW was invited to present updates on the Algiers bike lanes. An ordinance to request the removal/barring of bike lanes was originally included in the agenda, but then dropped even though it is still listed in the City’s website. Please take the time to review the public comments submitted for Monday’s meeting. They were acquired from the Mayor’s office, and were not read during the meeting due to “no vote taking place”. Public comments for this meeting here.
Fast forward to September 1st, today or tomorrow depending on when you read this, where an ordinance in regards to this issue will be read, and put to a vote at the next meeting on September 15th.
Link to full resolution here. I find the working on the Resolution extremely problematic, and through the whole process, apart from comments from the public, I haven’t seen any solid data that backs up removing the bike lanes on Newton and Mac Arthur.
Support for these bike lanes is loud and clear. People on bikes are much safer riding in a protected bike lane, and the consideration of removing these lanes is preposterous. As I mentioned on Monday’s Community Development Committee Meeting, one life lost is one life too many. These lanes are part of a network meant to connect everyone in Greater New Orleans – It is really not an issue of 2.2 miles of road, as it was alluded to in the meeting. Accessibility, and connectivity are the key here. Moreover, this really sets a terrible precedent for the Bike Network that will affect every single District.
I also want to put in your radar, a petition that was created by the New Orleans Complete Streets Coalition, and whom we are a member of.
To my knowledge, since I began working full-time at Bike Easy, we assisted in the following outreach/canvassing in Algiers. This included community events, and door to door canvassing announcing changes coming to the area.
9.28.2019 – 10:00 am to 2:00 pm – Let’s Move Forward Launch Festival
1.24.2020 – 3:30 pm to 6:00 pm – Event at University of Holy Cross
1.29.2020 – 8:30 am to 11:00 am – Canvassing
1.31.2020 – 3:30 pm to 6:00 pm – Canvassing
7.11.2020 – 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm – Old Algiers Main Street hosts a Complete Streets Open House on Newton St
9.5.2020 – 10:00 am to 1:00 pm – Bike Safety Awareness Ride – Hosted by Aurora West Civic Association
4.21.2021 – Bike Light Giveaway which included information on the Bike Network
5.1.2021 – Bike Ride and Crawfish boil to celebrate the extension of the Levee Path to the Chalmette Ferry
6.6.2021 – 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm – Family Bike Ride
6.28.2021 – 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm – Canvass in Lower Algiers
7.10.2021 – 10:00 am to 12:30 pm – Family Bike Ride
My point being, that outreach was indeed made in the area, and in general folks were receptive to the idea of bike lanes in their area.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read this long email. It is important to me that you have as many facts and information available to you, especially when it comes to the time to vote for something that will affect so many people who rely on this protected infrastructure to move around.
If you have any questions, or need any additional information, please don’t hesitate to ask. We want to make sure we continue to make biking easy, safe, and fun for everyone in Greater New Orleans. Taking bike lanes down is not the answer.