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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Groups collaborate to help students be active and ready to learn

Creating opportunities for New Orleans students to be physically active around their schools was the focus of the KidsWalk Coalition’s Breakfast Roundtable in July.

The gathering – titled Active and Ready to Learn – drew more than 35 school personnel, transportation engineers and planners, physical activity advocates, youth-based organizations and education researchers.

The meeting’s focus – on transportation’s role in the health and academic readiness of students – led to discussions about how schools can tap into existing resources and create partnerships to incorporate physical activity into regular transportation trips.

“Children who walk to and from school most days of the week are more likely to have higher levels of physical activity,” said Kathryn Parker-Karst, director of KidsWalk Coalition at the Tulane Prevention Research Center. Higher levels of physical fitness are linked to better academic performance, she said.

But, as many attendees noted, students face challenges if they try to walk or bike to school. Some students have to take public transportation, running into problems when buses are delayed or law enforcement accuses them of truancy.

One of the roots of the issue is that educational reforms in the past several years have led to open enrollment. Among other effects, this has resulted in many students ending up at schools outside their neighborhoods. And that means longer commutes for students. Before Hurricane Katrina, about 50 percent of students lived within one mile of their school. After Katrina, that number dropped to about 22 percent, said Debra Vaughan, director of research at Tulane’s Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives. Vaughan said the Cowen Institute, which co-sponsored the Breakfast Roundtable, wants to continue looking into how long commutes impact student behavior and other issues.

One way schools can improve their students’ physical activity levels is through the Safe Routes to School grants program. Safe Routes to School provides up to $250,000 for improvements to sidewalks, crosswalks, signage, and traffic signals and other pedestrian infrastructure, and up to $50,000 for biking and walking safety education, encouragement and enforcement programs.

“Safe walking and biking are things kids don’t automatically know anymore. We need to teach them,” said Shalanda Cole, Safe Routes to School coordinator at the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.

Audubon Charter School’s grant will include a “walking school bus” to take adult-supervised students to and from parks near the school, said the school’s development special Sofia Griffies. Some teachers will become certified bike-safety instructors under the grant, Griffies added. The grant will also help improve the parking and intersections around the schools.

Cyndi Nguyen, executive director of Vietnamese Initiatives for Economic Training, said her organization decided to work with Einstein Charter on a Safe Routes to School grant because she saw children weren’t able to play outside in the Michoud community and parents were afraid of their children walking to school.

The grant also links schools to transportation officials so that any work to sidewalks, streets and signs around schools is coordinated with the New Orleans Department of Public Works. The department is a resource for grantee schools, giving guidance on how to make changes to streets and sidewalks and possibly leverage grant money with other road work money, said Col. Mark Jernigan, director of Public Works.

The event was hosted at local business incubator Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation. The event was made possible thanks to generous support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

KidsWalk Breakfast Roundtable July 30

Active and Ready to Learn: Transportation’s Role in Creating Healthy and Academic Ready Students

Tulane University’s Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives and KidsWalk Coalition at the Tulane Prevention Research Center are proud to co-sponsor a free breakfast roundtable discussion about the role transportation plays in the health and academic readiness of New Orleans’ school-age children. Please join us for breakfast and to contribute to an important conversation about creating social change through transportation for better health and academic readiness outcomes for our city’s youth.
When: Tuesday, July 30, 2013, 8:00 AM – 9:30 AM
Where: Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation, 2035 Washington Avenue, Suite 105, New Orleans, LA 70125
Speakers:
Kathryn Parker, Ph.D., Director, KidsWalk Coalition at the Tulane Prevention Research Center
Debra Vaughan, Director of Research, Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives
Shalanda Cole, MBA, Safe Routes to School Coordinator, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development
Mark Jernigan, LTC. (Ret.), Director, City of New Orleans Department of Public Works
Cyndi Nguyen, Executive Director, Vietnamese Initiatives for Economic Training
Sophia Griffies, Development Specialist, Audubon Charter School
*Space is limited. RSVP required by Noon Monday, July 29, 2013 via eventbrite or phone at 504-658-8045.
Special thanks to Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation for the use of its space. This event is possible through generous support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Active Living by Design, Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities program.

Connect the Nine Community Festival & Bike Ride

Connect the Nine, CSED, The Sierra Club, KidsWalk Coalition, The Green Project, Bike Easy

When:

Saturday, March 09, 2013 from 10:30 am – 3:00 pm

Where:

Festival Location: Lower 9th Ward Village, 1001 Charbonnet Street, New Orleans, LA 70117, (504) 304-7868
Ride Starts: Green Project, 2831 Marais Street, New Orleans, LA 70117

Cost:

Free! Ride Starts at 10:30am – no registration necessary, all ages welcome!

Details:

Join Us for the Connect the Nine Community Festival & Bike Ride! Come learn what we can do as a community to provide better resources, access, and improve road conditions and our safety in the Lower 9 and 9th Ward. The ride, which begins at 10:30am at the Green Project (2831 Marais), will take riders across the St. Claude Avenue Bridge, stop at the Make It Right houses and Bayou Bienvenue, and culminate in a free community festival at the Lower 9th Ward Village.

In addition to the community bicycle workshop, the festival will include:

-A basic bicycle repair station
-Free food & beverages
-Bicycle light giveaways
-Tabling by local community organizations
-“Make the St. Claude Bridge Safe” petition signing
-A personal stories video booth to gather input from the community

 

RSVP to Breakfast Roundtable with Community Safety Advocates and Law Enforcement Officials

The KidsWalk Coalition will host its next Breakfast Roundtable on Community Safety and Enforcement on Thursday, Nov. 8.

The roundtable will be led by Jim Letten, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana; Dr. Peter Scharf, Research Professor in the Department of Global Health Systems and Development at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine; and Joe Sherman, Resident and Member of Carrollton Hollygrove CDC.

Where: Mike’s on the Avenue, 628 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, Louisiana 70130. Breakfast served.

When: 8 to 9:30 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 8.

Thanks to the support of Amerigroup, this event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited, so please RSVP to ndoerner@tulane.edu.

Safe Routes National Partnership presents two free webinars this month

From the Safe Routes to School National Partnership:

“This summer, we have produced a flurry of updates, e-mail announcements and blog posts about the impact of the new transportation bill, MAP-

SRTS National Partnership logo21, on Safe Routes to School, bicycling and walking. We know that amount of information can be daunting as you try to figure out what’s next for your community and your state.

The League of American Bicyclists, the Alliance for Bicycling and Walking and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership are partnering to offer a series of webinars on the implications of MAP-21 for Safe Routes to School, bicycling and walking.

Registration is now open for the first two webinars – see below for the details on each. This is your chance to hear from the national organizations who worked on MAP-21 about the details of the legislation and how you can get involved in efforts in your state to maximize funding for Safe Routes to School, bicycling and walking. Plus, there will be time on each webinar for you to ask questions.

Webinar 1:  The ABCs of MAP-21
Monday, August 13, 2012 from 2:00pm-3:30pm EDT
The first of the Navigating MAP 21 webinar series, this session will explain the basics of the new law, what it means for bicyclists and how we can harness the opportunities to fund bicycling and walking projects and programs. Join Caron Whitaker, campaign manager for America Bikes; Randy Neufeld, director of SRAM Cycling Fund; and Darren Flusche, policy director for the League of American Bicyclists and Advocacy Advance.
Register now for the ABCs of MAP-21!

Webinar 2: Navigating MAP-21: The Safe Routes to School Edition
Monday, August 27, 2012 from 2:00pm-3:00pm EDT
This webinar builds on the “Navigating MAP-21” series being held by the League of American Bicyclists and the Alliance for Bicycling and Walking. This webinar focuses specifically on the impact of the new transportation law, MAP-21, on Safe Routes to School, and what you can do to ensure that Safe Routes to School survives and thrives in your community and state. Join Margo Pedroso, deputy director, and Robert Ping, technical assistance director, from the Safe Routes to School National Partnership for this informative session.
Register now for the Safe Routes to School Edition of Navigating MAP-21!

There will be additional webinars in this series, so stay tuned for future announcements.

*Long distance charges apply accordingly if you choose to call in to the webinar.
**Recordings of the webinar will be available after the original broadcasts.”