New Orleans has become an increasingly bicycle-friendly city over the past several years, which is why you’re seeing more and more bike lanes, cyclists, and Blue Bikes on the road.
Many cyclists have a false sense of security when riding a bike. Simply wearing a helmet and checking for oncoming traffic before blowing through a red light is not enough. Riders assume other vehicles will yield. But these assumptions are dangerous, which is why traffic rules still apply to bicyclists.
Before you commute around town, you should learn the rules of the road to avoid getting a traffic ticket while riding your bike.
That’s a law?! Bicycle Registration
Did you know that if you have a bicycle in New Orleans, you are required to register it with the NOPD? Typically, it costs about $3 to register your bicycle with the city, but those fees can vary depending on whether you have a receipt — and they can be waived if you have a receipt showing the bicycle is valued at less than $100.
This law has been implemented in an effort to curb bicycle theft, so registering your bike may be well worth it.
What traffic tickets can I get while riding my bike?
In New Orleans, there are several ways you can break the law on your bicycle and not even realize it. These include:
- Riding on the sidewalk: Before Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans had less than 11 miles of bike lanes. Today, New Orleans is home to more than 100 miles of bike lanes, including the Lafitte Greenway that gives cyclists and pedestrians their own private path from Mid-City to the French Quarter. If you’re over the age of 15, you are not allowed to ride your bicycle on city sidewalks. And with so many miles of bike lanes and bike paths now, why would you need to? You can see a map of all the bike lanes and bike paths in New Orleans here.
- Disobeying traffic signals and stop signs: Although you might see cyclists running red lights and stop signs frequently, and in all neighborhoods around New Orleans, don’t follow their lead. All bicycles are required to follow the same traffic signals and traffic laws as vehicles on the road. Failing to do so can end in serious accidents — and a pricey traffic ticket.
- Bicycling against the flow of traffic (wrong way riding): With so many one-way streets in New Orleans, it can be tempting to break away from traffic and pick a quiet side street to ride on. But just as you wouldn’t drive your car the wrong way down the street or against oncoming traffic, bicycling the wrong way can result in a fine.
- Failing to properly light your bicycle: In New Orleans, all bicycles must be equipped with a lamp on the front that will emit a white light visible from a distance of least 500 feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear that is visible from all distances from 50 feet to 300 feet to the rear when directly in front of headlights of a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear can also be used in addition to the red reflector.
- Riding with no hands on the handlebars: No matter how skilled you are at balancing a bicycle with no hands, it is not only unsafe, it’s against the law. In New Orleans, cyclists are required to keep at least one hand on the bicycle’s handlebars.
What happens if you get a bicycle infraction?
If you are issued a ticket for breaking a cycling law and you plead guilty, you can receive a fine of up to $100 — and your bicycle registration sticker could be removed from your bicycle for up to 30 days.
Bicycle tickets are handled much like a traffic ticket, if you do not pay them there will be a warrant issued for your arrest. It is also possible that a bicycle ticket can be reported to your driving record and then result in higher auto insurance rates.
Since bicycle tickets are treated like traffic tickets, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help you fight your traffic ticket.