There are many reasons that New Orleanians should be proud of their city: the legendary Mardi Gras festival, architecture in the historic French quarter, Creole cuisine and zydeco music. However, New Orleans has a very bad reputation when it comes to bike safety. According to the National Highway Traffic System Administration, New Orleans ranked fourth in the nation for most cyclist fatalities per 1 million residents between 2015 and 2019. That’s 236% higher than the national average.
It’s not that the city of New Orleans isn’t trying to make the city more bike-friendly. After all, New Orleans streets are flat, and the city is dense, so it is easy to pedal and locations are close together. The New Orleans Department of Public Works reports that there are more than 100 miles of cycle paths in the city. This includes bike lanes, shared lanes (with motorists), shared paths (with pedestrians), buffered lanes (with a space between the bike lane and car lane) and protected lanes (with a concrete bollard separating the bike lane and car lane). New Orleans has a bike share program with 500 e-bikes available for rent. A non-profit organization, Bike Easy, promotes bike safety and education so that more people will ride bicycles and do so safely.
However in spite of these initiatives to make cycling safer, there is still a high occurrence of bicycle accidents in The Big Easy.
What makes New Orleans a dangerous place for bicycle accidents?
- Although the city has 100 miles of cycle lanes, they are not well-connected. This means cyclists have to cycle on roads where they are exposed to traffic until they can find another cycle lane on their route.
- Cycle lanes are limited mainly to the city center and don’t accommodate people who live further away.
- Statistics show inequality in bicycle infrastructure in New Orleans. Black residents make up two-thirds of New Orleans’ population, but nearly half of all cycling deaths. Twenty percent of New Orleans households do not have a car. Black cyclists commuting to work are vulnerable to traffic accidents and their neighborhoods tend not to have cycle lanes.
- Alcohol. According to Louisiana State University’s Center for Analytics and Research, alcohol is one of the four main factors in traffic accidents causing injuries and fatalities. New Orleans is well known for its nightlife and drinking at the city’s many bars is a popular activity for both residents and tourists.
- Distracted driving and aggressive driving. These are also in the top four causes of traffic injuries and fatalities in Louisiana. Cyclists are vulnerable to drivers distracted by texting or other behaviors that keep them from focusing on the road. Aggressive drivers do not want to slow down for bicycles or feel that they should not have to share the road with them.
- Warm weather. Statistically, there are more bicycle accidents in locations with warm weather – in fact, Florida is regularly at the top of the list for bicycle fatalities. Since most people prefer to cycle in warm weather, more people are out on the streets cycling and at risk of bicycle accidents.
Here are some key bicycle accident statistics in New Orleans and Louisiana.
The number of bicycle crashes in 2021 in Louisiana is a significant decrease from 2017. That year, there were 938 crashes involving bicycles, and 701 injuries.
A bicycle accident that New Orleanians will never forget happened in March 2019. After the Endymion krewe parade during Mardi Gras, a motorist crashed into a line of bicyclists on Esplanade Avenue. The driver, the son of a police officer, was trying to bypass a line of cars by driving in through the bike lane at 70 miles per hour. Two people were killed and six were seriously injured. The driver was found to be intoxicated well above the legal limit.
According to the City of New Orleans website, people using bike share programs have lower risk of collisions and injury, even if they don’t wear helmets as often. This is because 1) the bicycles for rent in the bike share programs are safer, have better lights and are painted in bright colors and 2) bike share participants are usually more casual riders and follow the rules of the road more carefully.
How do bicycle accident statistics in New Orleans break down by Parish? Here are statistics from 2021:
- Orleans Parish reported 128 injuries and 7 deaths, with 1 involving alcohol.
- Jefferson Parish reported 57 injuries.
- St. Tammany Parish reported 21 injuries and 2 deaths.
- St. Bernard Parish reported 10 injuries.
- St. James Parish reported 4 injuries.
- Tangipahoa Parish reported 6 injuries and 1 death.
- St. John the Baptist Parish reported 2 injuries.
What about bicycle accidents in Louisiana?
Unfortunately, bicycle accident statistics across the state of Louisiana don’t hold better news about cycling safety. Louisiana State University’s Center for Analytics and Research reports extensively on traffic accidents for the whole state. The 2021 report stated:
- There were 638 bicycles involved in crashes
- 532 people were injured or killed
- There were 33 fatalities in traffic accidents involving bicycles
- Out of the 33 fatalities, 6 occurred in accidents involving alcohol, or 18%
The Wall Street Journal reported in 2018 that Louisiana was the second-most dangerous state in America for cyclists.
In a study of the most dangerous large cities for cyclists in the United States, New Orleans was on the list at number 5. However, Baton Rouge ranked even worse at number 2! The report stated that between 2015-2019, Baton Rouge had 14.3 annual cyclist fatalities per 1 million residents. This is 449% higher than the national average. There were a total of 16 cyclist fatalities.
Being involved in a bicycle accident in New Orleans is a scary experience. You may have extensive injuries as a result of your accident that interfere with the enjoyment of your daily life. It could mean missed work, high medical costs, and living with pain, as well as the stress of experiencing a dangerous accident when you are just going about your daily business on your bicycle. When you experience a bicycle accident in New Orleans, you need the best legal team available to fight for your rights and get the compensation you deserve. Contact us for a free consultation today.