New Orleans is designated a Bronze-level community due to the city’s commitment to improving the pedestrian experience through innovative policy, public participation and engineering treatments. Highlights of New Orleans’ application include:
- New Orleans serves as a model for community public engagement in the planning process, due in large part to the organized and formal method for collecting public input called the Neighborhood Participation Plan (NPP). The NPP provides an effective, cost-conscious model of civic engagement allowing neighborhood level involvement in amending the Master Plan, zoning changes, and the city’s Capital Budget Program. Public input is also collected city wide through workshops, citizens’ advisory group, neighborhood groups and interest groups meeting.
- Downtown New Orleans features wayfinding signs and an online interactive map to help pedestrians find destinations through public transit and by foot as well as learn about the city’s neighborhoods. The City and the Advocacy Center have been coordinating the development of “Accessible Corridors” that connect users between hotels, the convention center and other destinations.
- Safe Routes to School and the Kids Walk Coalition, a partnership of local New Orleans organizations, organize a number of events and programs to increasing walking and bicycling in among children and families in the city. In 2010, the KidsWalk Coalition performed an audit of walking conditions around every public elementary and middle school in Orleans Parish—a total of 63 school areas. Coalition staff are working with the New Orleans Department of Public Works to address maintenance fixes identified within these areas. Several of the schools have applied or will apply for Safe Routes to School funding to address walkability with assistance from the City of New Orleans and the KidsWalk Coalition.
- The city of New Orleans has implemented a number of innovative and progressive engineering treatments to construct road geometries that ensure pedestrian access and safety. The standard curb radius is an impressive 10′-15′ on most streets, while larger radii are used on designated truck and bus routes. Medians are consistently used on all arterial boulevards and pedestrian refuge island and median widening projects are being planned in the French Quarter. Curb extensions are routinely included in targeted streetscape projects and pedestrian safety projects, such as on the main thoroughfare of Canal Street. In 2009, it added curb extension along the Oak Street commercial corridor, and is planning similar extensions at other streetscape improvement projects. In 2007, the City installed dozens of yellow flashing beacons at school zones on roadways with speeds of 30mph and higher. The city has also performed a number of road diets in the past few years, reducing motor vehicle lanes and adding bike lanes and widening sidewalks.
- The metropolitan planning organization, the Regional Planning Commission, offers a three-day design workshop annually on bike/ped design and planning best practices based on a FHWA course. It is held annually for approximately 40 participants, and has trained over 200 engineers and planners. The MPO requires this training of consultants.