NorthWest Carrollton would like to see Earhart become THE template for how Complete Streets could tranform a street and the surrounding neighborhoods and by extension the city..... all for the better.
From Times Picayune - December 23, 2011 - by Bruce Eggler
Many ordinances passed by the New Orleans City Council attract little notice beyond other offices in City Hall. But it didn't take long for an ordinance approved this month on the subject of "complete streets" to begin attracting compliments. Tributes to the council's wisdom rolled in from sources such as the Louisiana Public Health Institute, Tulane University's Prevention Research Center and the University of New Orleans Transportation Institute.
The basic premise of the growing "complete streets" movement is that city streets should not be designed only with cars and other motorized vehicles in mind. Instead, advocates say, designers and engineers ought to consider everyone else who uses the streets, including bicyclists, pedestrians, people in wheelchairs and transit riders.
The goal, according to the National Complete Streets Coalition, is "road networks that are safer, more livable and welcoming to everyone."
The ordinance adopted 7-0 by the council on Dec. 15 at the urging of Kristin Gisleson Palmer, chairwoman of the council's Transportation Committee, says the city's complete-streets program will require that "all transportation improvements are planned, designed and constructed to encourage walking, bicycling and transit use" as well as moving people and freight in cars and trucks.
In practice, the law says, that means streets should be designed and constructed to include features such as "sidewalks, bike lanes, bike racks, crosswalks, traffic calming measures, street and sidewalk lighting, targeted pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements," plus measures to facilitate access for transit riders and people with disabilities. It also calls for an emphasis on "street trees and landscaping, drainage and storm water management, and street furniture and other amenities."
The Department of Public Works and the City Planning Commission are directed to "develop goals and metrics" for the program, which is to be "fully implemented" by December 2012.
Exceptions are authorized for roads on which walking and cycling are prohibited, those where there is no demand for such activities and those where accommodating all users would raise a project's cost by more than 20 percent. The law also does not require broad redesign for minor street repairs such as filling potholes. But whenever a street is overlaid or rebuilt, the new rules apply.
The ordinance was endorsed by Deputy Mayor Cedric Grant, who oversees all infrastructure and capital projects for the Landrieu administration, and recently hired Public Works Director Mark Jernigan.
Jernigan said the new policy represents a "fundamental leap" in the way the city will approach the planning, design, construction and maintenance of streets. It puts New Orleans "on the cutting edge of industry practices," he said. Noting that 24 miles of bike paths have been constructed in recent years, he said, "A lot more are on the way."
Palmer said Louisiana has one of the best statewide complete-streets policies in the country but that New Orleans is the first town or city in the state to adopt its own policy.
Public health advocates favor complete-streets policies because they promote activities such as walking and bicycling.
"Research shows that people take opportunities to be active when intersections, bike lanes and sidewalks are not only available but also well maintained and safe," said Kathryn Parker-Karst, assistant director of the Prevention Research Center at Tulane.
"By creating safer environments for our citizens, we're also creating a healthier lifestyle for many," said Joseph Kimbrell, CEO of the Louisiana Public Health Institute. "The passage of this ordinance is another sign our community is become more forward-thinking for us and future generations."
Palmer said the new approach also can help lower-income people save money by taking public transit or cycling to work. New Orleans already ranks sixth in the country in the percentage of people who ride bikes to work, she said.
The City Council was not the only legislative body embracing complete-streets principles this month. The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation passed a federal transportation authorization bill that includes a measure for the "safe accommodation" of all users in federally financed street projects.
•••••••Bruce Eggler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 504.826.3320.