Baronne Street in the Central Business District — a prime feeder to the Interstate 10 onramps — often is choked with cars and trucks during peak traffic hours. In 2014, the city of New Orleans took away one lane of traffic and replaced it with a dedicated, striped bike lane between Canal Street and I-10 as part of a six-month pilot project. The lane, however, frequently is used by cars, taxis, city buses and other vehicles, and enforcement has been lax.
A Gambit cover story in May, when the pilot program was to begin wrapping up, found dozens of lane violations. At the time, the New Orleans Police Department promised officers would receive more bicycle and pedestrian safety enforcement training. But nearly five months after the end of the pilot program (nearly as long as the pilot program's intended timeline), the New Orleans City Council says the lane remains an unenforced problem.
Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Mark Jernigan told the council's Special Public Works, Sanitation and Environmental Committee on Oct. 6 that the "pilot program" likely will last through the year.
"It's becoming a huge, huge problem," said District B City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell. "The amount of violations, from my perspective, it seems to be getting worse. ... You can't determine if the pilot is working without enforcement."
Jernigan said DPW will continue public education efforts to help "people understand what they're looking at."
DPW also is working on a traffic study, separate from the Baronne pilot program, which will examine traffic flow in the French Quarter and CBD. That study may make recommendations for more bike lanes.