Streets-will-transform-into-playgrounds-at-New-Orleans-Play-Streets

Streets will transform into playgrounds at New Orleans' Play Streets

by Naomi King Englar
July 2013

For one day, a few New Orleans streets will come alive with people walking, cycling, dancing and playing games, all free of cars and exhaust. That's the goal of Play Streets Ciclovia on Oct. 26.

Other Play Streets events have been held and are planned for this year in parks and playgrounds. But this first-of-its-kind event on Oct. 26 will bring people together in the street from 9 a.m. to noon p.m. to walk and talk, get moving and feel good. Other cities across the world have created similar street-based events, also called Open Streets or Ciclovias. There's no start or finish line, and it will be free to the public.

The plan is to close the lake-bound traffic lanes of Esplanade Avenue from N. Claiborne Avenue to Bayou Road, and Bayou Road from Esplanade Avenue to N. Broad Street. Then event partners will repurpose the street for people to walk, ride, dance and play. The goal is to take this type of open streets event to different parts of the city in the future, so more neighborhoods can experience it.

"It is about rejuvenating New Orleans," said Jamie Wine, executive director of Bike Easy, a local bike-advocacy group and the lead coordinator of the event. "It's about creating a city that people want to work and live in and be healthy."

Potential activities include dance classes, sports games, Double Dutch, biking and walking groups, cooking demonstrations and fresh, delicious food.

"When we show that streets can serve more than just cars and trucks, we can re-imagine streets as these great places for walking, biking and staying healthy," said Naomi Doerner, program manager for the KidsWalk Coalition, a program led by the Tulane Prevention Research Center. "And by creating safe spaces for physical activity, we are helping make the healthy choice the easy choice."

More program partners are invited to lead, organize and create wellness activities, and also educate the event participants. The goal is to have over 50 program partners for the day of the event and help lead the way for subsequent future events across the city. For information about being a partner, visit Bike Easy’s event page.

This Play Streets event is currently sponsored by road safety camera company American Traffic Solutions, Bike Easy, New Orleans Health Department, Partnership for a Healthier America's Play Streets program and the KidsWalk Coalition at the Tulane Prevention Research Center.

(Photo courtesy of the Alliance for Biking & Walking)

Topics:   bike lanes , built environment , physical activity , community health

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