Transportation for Livable Communities releases 2014 Voters Guide for the New Orleans City Council and Mayoral Elections

For Immediate Release, 1/15/14

Media Contact: Rachel Heiligman, 504-345-8360, rachel@rideneworleans.org

NEW ORLEANS – Transportation for Livable Communities, a coalition of New Orleans transportation, public health, environmental and community-based organizations, today announced the release of its 2014 Voters Guide for City Council and Mayoral candidates in the February 1st election.

The document provides voters with candidate positions on several issues related to sustainable, safe, affordable and healthy transportation. Questionnaire topics include:

  • public transit and the RTA’s financial outlook
  • infrastructure and programs for pedestrian and bicycle safety
  • neighborhood parks and green spaces
  • implementing the city’s Complete Streets ordinance
  • transportation needs for all New Orleans residents, especially seniors, people with disabilities and low-income families

The guide is also an outlet for candidates to give voters their opinions about specific transportation equity issues, which are often under-represented in elections and political debates.

In New Orleans, 19 percent of households don’t have access to a vehicle, and transportation is the second highest expenditure for families – so for many New Orleans residents having sustainable, safe, affordable and healthy transportation is vital in order to access jobs and critical services.

More information about the Transportation for Livable Communities Voters Guide is available online at www.transportationforlivablecommunities.org. Click here for a copy of the Transportation for Livable Communities Voter’s Guide.

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About the Transportation for Livable Communities Questionnaire & Voter’s Guide:

The candidate questionnaire and voter’s guide was drafted by a diverse coalition of organizations advocating for equitable access to sustainable, safe, affordable, and healthy transportation choices in all New Orleans neighborhoods. Member organizations include: Bike Easy, Friends of the Lafitte Corridor, KidsWalk Coalition at Tulane University, Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development, Merritt C. Becker Jr. Transportation Institute at the University of New Orleans, Stay Local/Urban Conservancy, Ride New Orleans, Sierra Club, and the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association.

Traffic safety campaign features KidsWalk Coalition

American Traffic Solutions have teamed up with partners in New Orleans to raise awareness of the dangers of speeding and red-light running. The campaign not only explains the dangers to vulnerable populations (bicyclists, walkers and children), but also how the camera systems work to reduce injuries and fatalities.

Featured in the video is Dr. Kathryn Parker, director of KidsWalk Coalition and assistant director of The Prevention Research Center at Tulane University, who states, “Traffic cameras really do reduce speeding and collisions in schools zones and thereby improve safety for children and families walking in school zones.” Also featured in the video is partner Jamie Wine, executive Director of Bike Easy, Lt. Anthony Micheu, New Orleans Policy Department, and Deputy Chief Ken Bouvier, New Orleans EMS.

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.

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.”

New school zone times to start in August

Ever notice that New Orleans schools often let out far later in the day than current school zone times? ImageWith increasingly longer school days, our school zones are woefully obsolete. That’s why the city is changing its times this summer in preparation for the 2012-2013 school year. The times will change from 7:30am-8:45am to 7:00am-9:00am and from 2:30pm-3:45pm to 2:45pm-4:45pm. The KidsWalk Coalition informed this decision by reaching out to public schools to determine their various start and close times.

We applaud the this change to accommodate shifting school operation schedules. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle moving 20 mph has a 5 percent chance of dying. As vehicle speed increases to 30 mph and 40 mph, the likelihood that the pedestrian will be killed increases to 45 percent and 85 percent respectively (U.K. Department of Transportation, Killing Speed and Saving Lives, London, 1987). By slowing driver speeds, the expanded school zone hours will enhance the much-need opportunity for New Orleans children and families to be physically active by walking and biking to school.

 

New Orleans schools awarded more than $500,000 to create Safe Routes to School

The KidsWalk Coalition is excited to announce that in May, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development awarded nearly $600,000 to New Orleans schools for projects aimed at improving pedestrian safety. These projects, which are provided through the Safe Routes to School program, will bring upgraded sidewalks, crosswalks and traffic signals to Einstein Charter School and Audubon Charter School’s campuses.

Funded by the federal Department of Transportation, the Safe Routes to School program seeks to improve the health of kids and communities by making walking and bicycling to school safer, easier and more enjoyable. This year, the KidsWalk Coalition coordinated three joint applications between the City of New Orleans and New Orleans schools.

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Area near Einstein Charter School where sidewalk will be built

In addition to providing up to $250,000 for improvements to sidewalks, crosswalks, signage, traffic signals and other pedestrian infrastructure, Safe Routes to School offers up to $50,000 for education, encouragement, and enforcement programs. This year, the state awarded Vietnamese Initiatives in Economic Training (VIET) with funds to improve pedestrian safety in the Michoud and Village de l’Est neighborhoods and organize programs for students at Einstein Charter School. Audubon Charter School received funding for similar uses, such as a Walking School Bus, at its two campuses in Black Pearl.

The KidsWalk Coalition looks forward to working with these schools as the Safe Routes to School projects unfold, and sharing the excitement of the communities that will benefit from these improvements.