Ready Freddie?

We congratulate Freddie King III on his resounding victory on Saturday as he becomes the next District C representative on the New Orleans City Council. Having gotten 62 percent of the ballots that were cast in his runoff win over Stephanie Bridges, we’d say King has a mandate – in addition to widespread support from the New Orleans politicians and community leaders who endorsed him.

We at the Our Streets Our Choice Coalition are not in the business of endorsing political candidates. We’re not partisan. We’re not a voting bloc. And although our critics harshly and consistently say otherwise, we do not oppose bike lanes. Far from it. We want elected officials who truly listen to our concerns. That’s something we clearly haven’t received as the city, working with financially backed special interest groups, devised and foisted its bicycle-centric Moving New Orleans – Bikes policies on our roadways.

In June 2020, King signed his name and that of his law firm to a letter to Mayor LaToya Cantrell, expressing concern over the adverse effects the bollards were having on businesses along the Newton Street corridor and seeking an “immediate resolution.” Click here to read that letter.

Anyone who drives in the 1800 block of Newton Street – home to King’s campaign headquarters — or who gets brake tags at Becnel’s Automotive Services knows that King and his fellow business owners were ignored by City Hall.

Meanwhile, the Cantrell administration and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development continue moving forward with plans to install bike lanes in Algiers and across the city. The state, for instance, will begin converting portions of Gen. Meyer Avenue in the near future, extending a policy that already has proven to be unpopular in that area of Algiers. And the city, as far as we know, still eyes Holiday Drive for conversion. Elsewhere in New Orleans, city employees and bicycle advocates have been knocking on doors in Gentilly and the 7th Ward, hoping to win over residents there about the so-called “improvements” that are coming to their neighborhoods soon.

We would never want nor expect that King would abuse the authority that comes with his elected position by removing the Newton Street bollards. We understand his ethical dilemma. But in King, we at the Our Streets Our Choice Coalition and the Newton Street business owners can feel comfort that we finally have a kindred spirit when it comes to bollards, bike lanes and being ignored by City Hall.

Please don’t let us down, Councilman-elect King.

An Algiers bicyclist casually rides in the car and parking lanes on Newton Street instead of in the newly created protected bike lane on July 14, 2021.