City Council action on bike lane meetings ordinance postponed

The New Orleans City Council’s proposal to have Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s administration hold informational bike lane meetings has been delayed.

The City Council was expected to take up the proposal on Thursday (Oct. 20), that if passed would require the Department of Public Works to hold at least three public meetings in each of the seven council districts to discuss the administration’s bike lane plans that were developed and approved in 2019.

But after discussions between council members and the administration about the proposal this week, the council deferred action to a later date.

At-Large Councilman JP Morrell and District C Councilman Freddie King III proposed the ordinance.

Click here to read the proposal.

Councilman Morrell announced the proposal on Sept. 15, moments before the council unanimously approved Councilman King’s request to have bike lanes removed from MacArthur Boulevard and Newton Street in Algiers.

Councilman Morrell in effect said the Department of Public Works failed in public outreach before settling on its plan to create a 75-mile network of protected bike lanes citywide.

“It’s a failure of the City of New Orleans to manage advocacy,” Morrell said during the Sept. 15 meeting. “In my opinion is, DPW outsourced advocacy to biking advocates. And I’m not saying that, to be clear, as a negative to bicycling advocates. They are passionate about the issue, and they’re doing their very best. And it’s a yeoman’s task to educate people on the plight of bikers. That being said, that is not their job. 

“It is DPW’s job to foster and have these meetings. The resources this city has to reach residents is far larger than advocacy groups (have). I see some people here from NOLA Ready. They can text you on the toilet to tell you the mayor has a meeting.

“That is the level of outreach,” Morrell said. “They have the resources of the City of New Orleans to reach you via email, neighborhood engagement, god forbid go on Nextdoor, whatever. They can reach you. And they didn’t.

“And that’s because DPW didn’t want to do it.”

The city in 2011 adopted its Complete Streets ordinance. It requires consideration be given to bicyclists and pedestrians when the city redesigns or rebuilds roadways.

Councilman Morrell wants to amend the Complete Streets ordinance to require the Department of Public Works to hold public meeting and hearings, and that the department notifies the public in advance of these meetings.

District C Councilman Freddie King III

During the Sept. 15 City Council meeting, Councilman King said the city held two bike lane meetings in Algiers in 2019. A total of 43 Algiers residents attended them.

Earlier in September, Councilman King hosted a public meeting on Algiers bike lanes at Alice Harte Charter School. Of the 239 people who attended, 214 of them opposed the protected bike lane designs. The balance of attendees – 25 people – favored the design, and of them, 15 lived in Algiers.

In approving Councilman King’s ordinance on Sept. 15, the City Council gave the Cantrell administration 60 days to remove the protected bike lanes on MacArthur and Newton. As of this writing, the administration has done nothing to return the roadways to their state before the protected bike lanes were installed.