The New Orleans City Council approved increased fines for driving or parking in bike lanes. What used to cost $40 will now incur an initial penalty of $300. If that ticket goes unpaid for more than 30 days, the fine goes up to $500.
The ordinance was introduced after dozens of cyclists attended the March 15th meeting and shared their stories. The meeting was held specifically to address improving bike infrastructure and safety after two cyclists were killed on March 2 on Esplanade Ave. An alleged drunk driver veered into an unprotected bike lane during the Endimyon parade and struck two groups of cyclists.
City Councilwoman Kristin Giselson Palmer called for the city to begin stricter enforcement and train city parking authority officers to write more bike lane citations. Earlier this week, Deputy Police Chief Paul Noel told the city council that New Orleans Police Department officers are participating in a bicycle safety and enforcement training program that includes putting NOPD officers on bikes.
Most of the bike lanes in the city are unprotected, making it easy for vehicles to veer into the lanes. This can force bicyclists into traffic.