Streets will transform into playground at New Orleans’ Play Streets

Easy Streets picFor 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 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 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 space 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,” says Jamie Wine, executive director of Bike Easy, a local bike-advocacy group and 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 food.

“When we show that streets can serve more than just cars and trucks, we can reimagine streets as these great places for walking, biking and staying healthy,” says Naomi Doerner, program manager for the KidsWalk Coalition at the Tulane Prevention Research Center.

“And by creating safe spaces for physical activity, we are helping make the healthy choice the easy choice.”

Play Streets Ciclovia is looking for more program partners to lead, organize and create wellness activities, and also educate the participants of Play Streets. The goal is to have more than 50 program partners for the day of the event and help lead the way for subsequent future events across the city. Sponsors include American Traffic Solutions, Bike Easy, New Orleans Health Department, Louisiana Public Health Institute, Partnership for a Healthier America’s Play Streets program and the KidsWalk Coalition at the Tulane Prevention Research Center.

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