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High Ranks for NOLA in Biking, Fatalities
New Orleans is a top 10 city for bike commuting, but also ranks in the top 5 for bicycle fatalities, according to a new report. The Alliance for Biking and Walking's recently released Benchmark Report compiled data for 52 U.S. cities. The Crescent City jumped from 10th to 8th in the number of people who biked to work. According to a repackaging of the data by Vox.com, New Orleans ranked 5th in the number of bicycle fatalities over a two year period.
According to the report, 2.3 percent of cyclists in New Orleans commute to work. Portland, Oregon, has the highest number of biking commuters, with 6.1 percent.
New Orleans also ranked 7th in per capita spending on projects that will encourage biking and walking, the report states. The ranking follows a year that saw new bike lanes as part of major repaving projects on Esplanade, Orleans Ave. and Carrollton Ave. The Lafitte Greenway, a bike-and-walk path which will connect the French Quarter to Lake Pontchartrain, further shows the commitment.
Along with the increased cycling, however, accidents and even attacks remain a reality in the Crescent City. The data shows New Orleans 5th out of 52 cities in bicyclist fatalities over a two-year period.
The city saw 5.54 bicyclist deaths per million residents between 2009 and 2011, the data indicates. Phoenix recorded the highest rate of fatalities with 6.12, according to the Vox feature, which repackaged data from a report issued by. The other cities in the top 5 were Mesa, Az., Fresno, Ca., and Jacksonville, Fla.
Over the last two months, two bicyclists have died in accidents, according to NOPD. On April 11, Atlanta firefighter Frank Guinn was killed while training for an Ironman competition on Chef Menteur Highway when a car rear ended his group. Howard Vidrine, 33, was later arrested in connection with the crash.
On Feb. 26, a 50-year-old bicyclist was killed in the Bywater near the corner of St. Claude and Pauline St. when he crossed into the roadway.
Despite the recent news, the increased ranks will only serve to keep bikers and walkers safer, according to the Alliance.
"The cities where there are more walking to work are also the cities where there tend to be lower pedestrian fatality rates," said Alliance Communications Director Mary Lauran Hall, who indicated that the correlation also plays out for bikers. "It's really a safety in numbers phenomenon."
With the increased numbers also comes fewer chances for an accident, Hall said.
"If there are more people walking, then that means one person on foot might be one less car sitting in traffic on the street," she said.
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