Transportation Equity in New Orleans: A Youth Perspective
Bike Easy Youth Ambassador, Tyler Warren, on safe and equitable transportation in New Orleans
Tyler Warren, now a freshmen at Bates College, interned with Bike Easy for six weeks as part of the 2016 youth ambassador summer cohort, Pedal + Crank Dat. Tyler writes about his vision for a safe, reliable transportation system that accommodates all people trying to get around the City of New Orleans.
“The idea of transportation equity seems utopian in the face of the speed-driven hegemonic monopoly of automobile traffic on our streets. However, a transformation of the current transportation paradigm will empower thousands to travel safely without obstacle. It’s a concept that will tangibly advance New Orleans in both the physical and social realms.
“Infrastructure largely dictates the public’s role in the space we occupy. The role for folks using ‘alternative spaces’ such as bike lanes and crosswalks currently seem to be given less priority compared to vehicular traffic in the roads. Walking and biking, as a valid form of travel, tends to get subverted by a general lack of accommodation for those facilities throughout the city.
“The perceivable shift from a road dedicated to automobile traffic, to one that allocates sharing this space for people walking and biking is only a fraction of what equity entails. The change is just as much physical as it is ideological. Bike lanes and crosswalks bereft of the acceptance and recognition that creates a safe and amiable space is equally relevant to the cause as the nuanced infrastructure. Mapping the geography of these ‘alternative spaces’ whilst acknowledging and working towards eliminating the culture that invalidates their legitimacy is the most pragmatic way to execute this prospect.
“New Orleans’ transition from waterway transport, to trains and to today’s most prevalent motorized mediums is indicative of the city’s malleability and capacity to execute great transportation paradigm shifts. Our streets that once bore steel tracks can and should yield to accommodate multiple modes for getting around safely. With biking and walking facilities becoming more prevalent in the Crescent City, our city’s physical attributes are noticeably advancing. To achieve equity though, all road users will serve to benefit if we all learn how to safely share our public spaces and allow equal priority for everyone in doing so.”