nola.com - Demo will change downtown traffic through mid-December, show how to safely share the road

Thursday, Aug 30, 2018

By Laura McKnight
NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Local volunteers on Saturday (Sept. 1) will begin the two-week process of installing the “Connect The Crescent” project, a system of protected bikeways, improved crosswalks and other traffic features intended to showcase how cyclists, motorists, public transit and pedestrians can safely share city streets.

The roadway redesign is temporary, lasting from mid-September to mid-December, and involves streets running to and through the Central Business District and French Quarter.

The project, known as a traffic demo or traffic pop-up, kicks off Sept. 15, according to city officials and cycling group Bike Easy, which is leading the effort through a slew of partnerships and grants, along with support from city government.

“Creating safe and easy options for people biking, walking, and taking transit will have a powerful impact on improving equity, job access, public health, economic development, and livability in the city and throughout the region,” Dan Favre, executive director of Bike Easy, said in a news release.

One of the more prominent features of the demo are bike pathways with barriers that separate cyclists from vehicle traffic.

According to a Connect the Crescent map, three specially-protected pathways are set for installment, with existing bike lanes connecting the three.

Simon Bolivar-MLK-OCH Bikeway

The protected bike path begins on Simon Bolivar Avenue at Jackson Avenue, continuing on Simon Bolivar to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The path turns onto Martin Luther King and continues to Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard. The entire pathway is two-way.

A few blocks down Oretha Castle Haley, the Baronne Bikeway begins.

Baronne Bikeway

This protected bike path begins on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard near Calliope Street and the Pontchartrain Expressway. The path starts with a two-way section that runs along Oretha Castle Haley to Howard Avenue, where the path turns onto Howard and a block later, turns onto Baronne Street.

At Baronne and Union streets, the bikeway splits into two one-way sections, one downtown-bound along Union and then O’Keefe Avenue and the other Uptown-bound along Baronne. The bikeway ends just before Canal Street.

Decatur Bikeway

This protected bike path begins in the CBD, on Tchoupitoulas Street at Gravier Street, roughly five blocks (going toward the river) from the end of the Baronne Bikeway.

The path is two-way along Tchoupitoulas to North Peters Street to Decatur Street and continuing along Decatur Street to near Dumaine Street. Near Decatur and Dumaine streets, the path splits into one-way bikeways on Decatur Street to Esplanade Avenue.

The French Quarter area also features two connectors with protected bike paths, including a Ferry Connector running from Decatur and Canal streets to the ferry terminal.

The other connector, the Lafitte Greenway Connector, includes a barrier-protected section at Basin, Toulouse and St. Louis streets, allowing cyclists safer passage between the French Quarter and the Lafitte Greenway.

Connect The Crescent also includes safety improvements for pedestrians and better transit-stop access in the downtown area.

According to the Bike Easy website, the group hopes the pop-up traffic project will spark community discussion about street design and safer, more accessible roadways for everyone on the move.

The project ultimately aims to increase job access, improve health equity, improve roadway safety, stimulate the local economy and support environmental sustainability, all contributing to a high quality-of-life in New Orleans, the organization says.

During the three-month Connect The Crescent installation, Bike Easy plans to gain feedback from a range of residents via surveys, an interactive website and family-friendly events.

The Sept. 15 conclusion of the street changes for Connect The Crescent coincides with Big Easy Streets, an event hosted by the New Orleans Health Department to showcase a healthy, active street closed to vehicle traffic.

Big Easy Streets runs from 9 a.m. to noon Sept. 15 on Basin Street (from Canal Street to St. Louis Street, on the river side). The event includes health screenings and tours of Connect The Crescent.

The project’s debut occurs a day before Walk/Bike/Places 2018 begins. The conference, which runs Sept. 16-19, is expected to bring more than 1,500 participants, including city planners, transportation engineers, public-health professionals and professional walking and bicycling advocates, according to the conference website. Bike Easy is the local partner for the conference.

Additional events and activities associated with Connect The Crescent will be announced throughout the three-month demonstration.

The work is being coordinated with support from the City of New Orleans through its Office of Resilience and Sustainability and related departments.

Learn more about the demo project at http://www.connecthecrescent.com. The website also offers opportunities to volunteer, provide community feedback and learn more about mobility opportunities in the City of New Orleans. For information, you can also email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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