Legislative-Briefs-Government-actions-on-obesity

Legislative Briefs: Government actions on obesity

April 2016

Bike share coming to New Orleans.
A new system of renting bikes from fixed, public stations across New Orleans is in the works, with city officials officially starting the process to find a company to set up the system, commonly called bike share. Bike share systems have been identified as an affordable and effective tool for increasing urban mobility and improving economic, environmental and health issues when integrated with an existing transportation network. New Orleans now boasts more than 100 miles of completed bikeways, including trails, shared lanes and bike lanes.
In conjunction with the 5th Annual New Orleans Bike to Work Week, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced on April 19 the release of a Request for Proposals for the private operation and financing of a comprehensive bike share system. The system is expected to serve a wide range of residents and visitors across neighborhoods and provide year-round, equitable access to worksites and destinations. New Orleans has demonstrated a high level of bike share readiness. In 2012, local bike advocacy nonprofit Bike Easy released a preliminary feasibility study sponsored by the University of New Orleans Transportation Institute. In 2013, the city received a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant to explore the development of bike share. Additionally, Resilient NOLA, the city’s resilience strategy, and the government-funded Livable Claiborne Communities Study, which examined future land-use and transportation along the Claiborne Avenue corridor, both cite bicycle share as a tool for connecting people, employment and essential services.
“Bike Easy is very excited to see New Orleans take this step towards a bike share system with a strong focus on equity that will increase affordable, accessible transportation options for everyone,” said Dan Favre, Executive Director of Bike Easy. “We especially look forward to bike share in New Orleans becoming an easy, healthy choice for the many citizens who currently lack viable ways to get to work, the grocery store, the park, and other destinations.”
To submit a proposal to operate bike share in New Orleans, visit the city’s Open Bids page.

State lawmakers considers Louisiana farm to school bill.
Bringing fresh, local food to Louisiana schools is the focus of a new program making its way through the state legislature this spring. Senate Bill 420’s goal is to assist schools and child nutrition staff in identifying and utilizing all available resources to support and increase the use of locally grown or raised agricultural products in school nutrition programs. The program will be a collaborative effort implemented by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and the Louisiana Department of Education in consultation with various stakeholders. The Louisiana Farm to School Program is supported by Sen. Francis Thompson, (D-Delhi), Chairman of the Louisiana State Senate Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture and Rural Development Committee Chairman.
A few highlights of the program include an inventory of farms for schools, guidance for schools to develop relationships with farmers, and a plan for integrated curriculum with regard to agriculture, food, health and nutrition. A Louisiana Farm to School Handbook would also be created.
To read more about the program, click here to visit the Louisiana Farm to School blog or click here to read the original bill here.

Safety of ‘vulnerable road users’ is goal of proposed state bill.
Louisiana lawmakers are considering a bill that would punish careless drivers who injure or kill someone else using the road not in a vehicle, such as walking or using a wheelchair, motorcycle or bicycle. The proposed law, Senate Bill 171, provides protection for “public road users,” also called “vulnerable road users.” The bill would provide several possible penalties for drivers operating their vehicles in a “careless manner” and causing the injury of a public road user, such as license suspension for up to one year, up to $2,000 in fines, three months in jail and other orders, like a community service. For killing someone, the fine would be up to $5,000 and five years in prison, or both. The bill also would require suspects in a crash to attend a court hearing. The bill, authored by Sen. Gary Smith, (D-Norco), has passed the Senate and will be heard in the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice on May 11 at 9:30 a.m.
Read the bill here.

Residents can help update New Orleans Master Plan for transportation, housing, retail and more.
The New Orleans Master Plan, a document designed to guide future growth across the city, will get an update this year. The city’s charter requires the document, titled The Plan for the 21st Century: New Orleans 2030, must be reviewed once every five years. The City Planning Commission is holding an amendment application period now through July 30. Proposed changes will undergo a public review process that involves meetings held in the community as well as formal public hearings. The entire process may take a full year.
The Master Plan affects the city’s priorities for large-scale construction or development projects, the location and design of transportation work, environmental regulations, housing policy, and other elements of city functions. The Master Plan’s identification of a goal or strategy leads to implementation through laws or departmental budgets and actions. More specific issues or area plans may be incorporated into the Master Plan as it is considered a “living document” that is amended over time. Having an adopted Master Plan also assists the city in obtaining both public and private grants because it shows the community has laid the groundwork for specific actions.
Read more about Master Plan amendment news through the CPC website: www.nola.gov/cpc. Or sign up for email announcements by sending a request to cpcinfo@nola.gov.

By Kevin Crooks, Tulane PRC Graduate Student Assistant, and Naomi Englar, Tulane PRC Staff

Topics:   community health , policy , built environment , food environment , school food , obesity , diet , nutrition , physical activity

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