Report: New Orleans needs safer streets, bike lanes

Friday, Dec 8, 2017

By Eric Craig Dec 8, 2017, 10:53am CST

Earlier this week, Bike Easy, Smart Growth America, and The National Complete Streets Coalition released a report that evaluated the need for more Complete Streets in New Orleans.

Using data from American Community Survey, the joint researchers studied transportation safety, road and pathway connections, and health disparities across Orleans and Jefferson parishes.

In the report, the Complete Streets approach is defined as “designing and operating street networks to serve all people who use them regardless of age, ability, income, race, or mode of transportation.” Over 1,300 jurisdictions across the United States have adopted Complete Street ordinances.

Based on U.S. Census tract data, researchers found that 36 percent of people in Orleans and Jefferson parishes live in low-income neighborhoods, but have “double the chance of being hit by a car when biking or walking,” said Dan Favre, the executive director for Bike Easy, at a press conference announcing the joint report.

The join researchers created a map that depicts poverty levels and bike lane locations. The darker the color, the higher the poverty rate. via Bike Easy, Smart Growth America, and The National Complete Streets Coalition/ An Evaluation of New Orleans and Jefferson Parish
The Complete Streets researchers found that many of New Orleans’s bicycle networks are placed in downtown New Orleans, leaving gaps in several neighborhoods.

In studying race disparities among the city’s streets, researchers found that Black cyclist, who make up 25 percent of the cycling population in New Orleans, account for almost half of reported cycling injuries and fatalities.

Most general cycling incidents in the metro area occurred in New Orleans East, the Westbank, and downtown New Orleans.

“From 2009 to 2015, the risk of being struck and hurt while walking in New Orleans increased by 80.3 percent while the risk of being injured while biking decreased by 29.3 percent,” the joint researchers reported.

Favre pointed to the most recent American Community Survey that supports that less people are walking and more people are biking in New Orleans. Though, in 2016, the New Orleans Office of Inspector General reported New Orleans having the most dangerous crosswalks in Louisiana.

Since New Orleans City Council adopted its Complete Street ordinance in 2011, the city has doubled its bike lanes, and has seen an increase in its total cycling population.

Bike Easy, Smart Growth America, and The National Complete Streets Coalition recommend that the City of New Orleans adopts a performance measure that evaluates Complete Streets regularly, increase community engagement, and encourage planning that increases high-quality Complete Street connections in more neighborhoods.

To read the full study, visit Bike Easy’s official website.

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