The Battle of the Bike Lane

The bike lanes along Newton Street between Elmira and Behrman in Algiers are the battleground for many cyclists and residents. Several months ago District C Council member Freddie King wanted the city to reevaluate their position on the protected bike lanes in Algier due to neighborhood disagreements regarding the lanes.

Since the situation was brought to the city’s attention, minimum changes have occurred. The city has removed dozens of the flex posts and the ones that remain have been shifted closer to the bike lane. They said this should help with parking on the street and alleviate residents’ concerns that the flex posts could obstruct emergency vehicles from getting by.

Residents are still up in arms about the protected lanes while cycling advocates are afraid of what might happen if the lanes are removed. King suggested the city remove over 2 miles of protected bike lanes located on MacArthur Boulevard and Newton Street. If this passes and goes through, this will be a downfall for the citywide bike plan created by Mayor LaToya Contrell.

West bank residents voted for King over Kristin Gisleson Palmer when he said he would advocate the removal of the paths. Residents wanted to be heard and felt that the city did not survey enough residents regarding the installation of the bike lanes in Algiers. The city has defended its actions but does admit that it did not do enough outreach to the residents of Algiers.

“We did have a number of meetings in Algiers. Obviously we needed to have more,” said Sarah Porteuos, a city infrastructure spokesperson.

As of now, the cyclists’ lanes on MacArthur and Newton include plastic posts guarding the separate lanes and parking spaces closer to the main travel lane than the curb. Automobiles will be the second line of defense for cyclists. Those who are for the lanes say that the protected lanes not only increase the safety of cyclists but motorists as well.

Research has shown that cyclists’ lanes reduce accidents for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. Around the city, around 30 of the 75 planned miles already have cyclists’ lanes installed. According to city officials, there were 327 crashes involving cyclists between 2014 and 2018 on MacArthur Blvd before the cyclist’s lanes were installed.

“Please do not remove protected bike lanes, said Corinna Chaney, a resident who wrote to the City Council. ” This critical infrastructure is saving lives, drivers included. We should be slowing down traffic not tearing up what little safety we have here.”

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