Advocating to update the parish comprehensive plan.
Last week, the Jefferson Parish Complete Streets Coalition presented to the Jefferson Parish Comprehensive Plan Update Steering Committee. We outlined our work throughout the parish, the elements and benefits of complete streets, and how a complete streets policy could be an effective tool to address issues the parish is currently facing. The steering committee is a group of parish council appointed community members that are tasked with providing oversight and direction to the plan update. The comprehensive plan is a document that guides policy decisions regarding physical growth and development. We presented to the steering committee in hopes that they consider a Complete Streets Policy as one of the recommendations coming out of their update process.
Complete Streets are both an approach to infrastructure and policy and physical elements include visible cross-walks, protected bike lanes, public transit shelters, ADA accessible sidewalks.
ELEMENTS OF COMPLETE STREETS
Complete Streets are not just bike lanes. They include protected bike lanes as part of a larger mobility plan that involves connected routes for safer active transportation for all modes.
Benefits of Complete Streets
- Increases safety for all users – if there is a clear idea where people are supposed to be on the road, everyone can share it more easily
- Promotes physical activity and active transportation – from our outreach throughout the parish, we’ve heard that folks want easier access to the lake and river levees, parks, and playgrounds
- Employees who commute by bike are more productive and take fewer sick days because they are healthier
- Businesses often see sales improve when commercial corridors include bike lanes and traffic calming – we’ve heard this echoed in meetings with parish Councilmembers and we’re excited to see developments like the ones happening in Fat City!
- Cities and towns that promote bike-friendly infrastructure also see property values increase, and attract more young people
- More opportunities for exercise, easier access to shopping and job centers, and safer routes to school are something that people want in the places that they live – it helps keep the folks who are already living here and attracts new ones
SUPPORT WE’VE HEARD AND SEEN FOR COMPLETE STREETS ACROSS THE PARISH
Our Kenner Pop-Up Bikeway showed that people who bike, walk, AND drive would like to see Complete Streets improvements.
The pop-up was a mile long temporary installation of a protected bike lane along Loyola Drive in Kenner. Installation was led by bike easy and supported by dozens of volunteers from all across the parish as well as Kenner city officials. Survey responses were gathered from the surrounding neighborhood by knocking door to door both before and after the installation.
But our work has been more than just the Kenner Pop-Up. We’ve talked to people who bike, walk, and drive all across the parish at numerous community events and business associations. This work has been guided by the various perspectives of the Jefferson Parish Complete Streets Coalition and the support from over 800 community members who have signed the petition in support of Complete Streets.
We know Jefferson Parish supports Complete Streets, and a Complete Streets ordinance is the way to institutionalize the driving goals of complete streets – accessibility and safety for all users of the road – and lay out a process to ensure that with any new infrastructure project, if feasible, to incorporate complete streets infrastructure.
The Jefferson Parish Complete Streets Coalition commends the work the parish has already done to ensure improvements have been made to the built environment to increase the safety and accessibility for all modes of transportation, but there is more work to be done. A Complete Streets ordinance would have several important benefits that would support the positive growth of the parish for years to come:
1. Assist in Implementation and Capacity – There is no formal process for how improvements in safety for people who bike and walk are considered for each new infrastructure project. An ordinance would lay out best practices and a step-by-step guide, formulated and agreed upon by the appropriate parish department, for how Complete Streets should be incorporated in new projects.
2. Institutionalize the Process – This ordinance would ensure that creating safe and accessible bike infrastructure is not left solely to the discretion of those in elected office, but is institutionalized within a parish department with the ability to plan long-term.
3. Set Clear, Accountable Expectations – This policy would help set up a process where performance metrics and outcomes are agreed upon and not figured out project by project.