New Orleans, Louisiana

2016

Excerpt from Communities in Action:

New Orleans, LA, has spent the last decade recovering from Hurricane Katrina. In a city of close-knit neighborhoods, part of that recovery was the addition of over 100 miles of bike lanes around local schools. This success was driven by the KidsWalk Coalition and its commitment to strategic communication and a culture of learning.

For more information, read the full story.


2014

Excerpt from Lessons for Leaders:

After helping to develop a Complete Streets policy in New Orleans, the KidsWalk Coalition and other advocacy groups joined a city advisory and oversight committee responsible for refining the guidelines for implementation. It also engaged new city staff and worked to maintain a critical mass of diverse advocates to ensure long-term follow through.

For more information, read the full story.


July 2014

When Hurricane Katrina unleashed its fury along the Gulf Coast in August 2005, Americans watched in horror as the levees protecting New Orleans gave way and devastating floodwaters rushed in. Hundreds of people died; entire neighborhoods were submerged. More than four years later, The Big Easy was still recovering—minus nearly 200,000 residents who evacuated and were slow, if at all, to return.

Yet Katrina provided New Orleans a rare opportunity for a civic “do-over” in a city that has long struggled with obesity, especially among African Americans where the obesity rate was nearly 40 percent in 2009, the year Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities (HKHC) began. Fortunately, new winds were blowing by then. Neighborhood associations were invigorated and, with federal funds finally in hand for rebuilding New Orleans’s infrastructure, a partnership of local officials and organizations chose to make healthy eating and active living as high a priority for capital improvements as improved flood protection and reopened schools.

The KidsWalk Coalition, dedicated to reducing childhood obesity by giving low-income children opportunities for play, exercise and sports, applied for a HKHC grant. With the Prevention Research Center at Tulane University leading the effort, the KidsWalk Coalition has guided public opinion and influenced public policy to ensure that New Orleans is rebuilt as a much healthier city. They have broadened and strengthened the existing coalition, conducted an assessment to identify high-priority policy and environmental changes, and implemented environmental changes to improve pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure.

“Post-Katrina, we’ve seen an unprecedented amount of citizen involvement at every level, from neighborhood associations to the city council. There’s a great urge to build New Orleans better than before,” said Project Director Kate Parker.

Some of the KidsWalk Coalition’s key accomplishments include:

  • A report on the state of walking and biking infrastructure around each public school led to a collaborative working relationship with the Department of Public Works (DPW) to track and address the backlog of needed improvements, such as restriping crosswalks and replacing school zone signs.
  • A Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance, with strong provisions for bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and an American Disabilities Act (ADA) transition plan are under City review.
  • A Complete Streets policy was passed. The Coalition continues to assist planners and engineers with workshops and other professional development opportunities to ensure that this policy is implemented. An implementation plan is also being written.
  • The Department of Public Works convened the first ever, city-wide Complete Streets Advisory Committee in July 2013 to advise the city on the implementation and management of the Complete Streets program, including goals, metrics, procedures and public engagement.
  • Two schools received Safe Routes to Schools funding and partnerships with previously funded sites were formed to ensure implementation of their non-infrastructure programs.
  • Improvements were made at school campuses, along streets and neighborhoods. Since 2010, 103 school zone-related work orders with over 252 signage requests had been made by the DPW.  Approximately 75% of the 103 work orders had been completed/installed or fixed.

“We know we’re making a difference… school districts are promoting walking or cycling to school as a safe option,” Parker said.