Cyclists Descend On City Hall To Protest Dangerous Streets

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Cyclists of all stripes walked their bikes to the front of City Hall and lay down as a group Thursday to highlight the dangers of cycling in New Orleans, a city suffering growing pains as the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches.

         The protest, called a "bike die-in," was attended by an eclectic group of about 50 cyclists — some dressed in suits and ties, others in cycling clothes. One group resembled a motorcycle gang.

         The organizers wanted to highlight cyclists' deaths and the difficulties cyclists face with potholes, obstructed bike lanes and nasty automobile drivers.

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         After Katrina, New Orleans opened bike lanes throughout the city, but that in turn has encouraged more cycling and caused friction with others on the roads.

         "We have six dead cyclists looking on us!" Alex Fleming, a bicycle courier and protest organizer, shouted through a megaphone. He was referring to bikers killed in New Orleans since 2014, he said.

         One protester held a sign that read "I Got Hit on Baronne," the name of a street, and another one said "Make Lanes, Not Graves."

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         Protesters also parked a town bike covered in ghostly white paint in front of City Hall. Similarly painted bikes have been placed at spots where cyclists have been killed in the city.

         The mayor's office countered that city agencies were working hard to make streets safer. It also noted that New Orleans is quickly becoming a top cycling city, with the fifth highest number of bicycle commuters.

         The city has about 100 miles of bikeways, trails, shared lanes and bike lanes.

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         Sarah N. McLaughlin, a city spokeswoman, said New Orleans "is fully committed to ensuring that our roadways are safe for all users."

         – by AP Reporter Cain Burdeau




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