This is Public Health

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Don’t forget to look both ways before crossing the street — especially if you’re walking the streets in Louisiana. According to a recent study, the Pelican State has the fifth highest pedestrian death rate in the country.

The report, prepared by the Center for Planning Excellence and the Louisiana Public Health Institute, evaluated 10 years of federal fatality data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report demonstrates a need for more state and city planners to incorporate pedestrian and cyclist safety into traffic plans, according to Rachel DiResto, CPEX executive vice president.

Read the full story from The Advocate and review the documents here. 

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Miles of newly painted bike lanes have New Orleanians leaving their cars at home in favor of two-wheeled vehicles. Trading the truck for the Trek has not gone unnoticed, but the Big Easy is still far down the path to first-class cycling status. At the moment, New Orleans boasts more than 58 miles of bike lanes with ten on the way.  This is a huge leap from the meager ten miles of bike lanes available before Katrina.  This impressive new number transcends bikes to encompass the tremendous strides the city has made as they rebuild.

Click here to read the full article from NOLA Defender’s website.

According to a recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NDRC), when asked what would solve traffic problems in their community, 42 percent of Americans say more transit. Only 20 percent say more roads. And 21 percent would like to see communities developed that don’t require so much driving. Two-thirds support local planning that guides new development into existing cities and near public transportation.

Click here to read the full study.

Recently, New Orleans passed a Complete Streets ordinance, which you can read here. If you’re interested in more information about the work being done to make our streets safer for all on the road, check out these resources:

The Louisiana Public Health Institute’s Active Environments Planning initiative.

Bike Easy

The Regional Planning Commission of GNO

Join the Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI) and other sponsors in Ride New Orleans’ Employer Challenge for the 3rd annual Transit Week November 11-17, 2012!

Ride New Orleans is challenging the New Orleans business community to support public transit, biking and walking by asking their employees to leave their cars at home in turn for trying transit at least once during the week. The benefits of promoting a transit commute to your employees can translate to tax credits, increased productivity, reduced parking costs and attracting
new, creative talent to your business. Click here for more info on the benefits of the transit commute!

Businesses and individuals can get involved by signing the pledge by 10/26/12.

According to numerous studies referenced in Tom Vanderbilt’s recent story for Slate, titled “The Crisis in American Walking,” the US’s residents walk less than any other industrialized nation as a whole. In this 4 part story, he discusses how we came to think of ‘pedestrian’ as being mundane, how and why  sidewalks came to be, how cities and towns “walk scores” are tabulated and how American’s can learn to “walk again” today.

The series is a great study in how the country has turned a healthy act into something mundane, and how cities across the US are turning it around to encourage people to walk more.

Check out the story here.

Bicycling to work is easy, safe and fun. If you’ve never done it before, NOLA Bike to Work Day, presented by Entergy and Bike Easy is for you. Put it on your calendar for April 11, 2012.

Experienced riders will meet at five different locations and ride together to downtown. If you have time before work, stop by Gallier Hall for coffee and free safety schwag.

For more information about meet up times and locations, click here.

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The Times-Picayune recently published a great editorial praising the passing of the Complete Streets ordinance in New Orleans, and it is definately worth reading.

“New Orleans officials have made significant progress in adding bicycle lanes to many city streets in recent years, especially as many thoroughfares have been repaired after Hurricane Katrina. Now those efforts will be cemented into city policy with a new ordinance that requires the design of most future streets to consider more than just motorized vehicles.

At the urging of Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer, the City Council has unanimously approved a law to implement so-called “complete streets” principles in future city projects. The concept, which is growing across the nation, posits that city streets should be designed to consider their full array of users, including bicyclists, pedestrians, people in wheelchairs and transit riders.

In practice, that means future New Orleans streets, or current streets that get an overlay or large repairs, will need to be designed and constructed to include features such as bike lanes and bike racks, sidewalks and crosswalks.

The law requires that the new policy be fully implemented by December 2012.

Not all streets will have to meet the new requirement, and that’s important to keep the additional costs in check. Exceptions include roads in which walking and biking is prohibited and streets where there’s no demand for such activities or where adding these types of features would raise a project’s cost by 20 percent or more. The law also excludes streets undergoing minor repairs.

New Orleans has 70 miles of bike lanes in use, under construction or planned. That’s almost seven times the city’s pre-Katrina mileage. That has earned the city deserved accolades, as the changes improve safety for bicycle users and give residents more and healthier options for transportation. The city already ranks sixth in studies that estimate the percentage of residents who ride bikes to work.

Tulane University’s Prevention Research Center and the University of New Orleans Transportation Institute, among other expert entities, praised the city’s approval of the “complete streets” ordinance.

Joseph Kimbrell, CEO of the Louisiana Public Health Institute, said the new law “is another sign our community is becoming more forward-thinking for us and future generations.”"

Credit to NOLA.com. See the article here.

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The New Orleans City Council voted unanimously on Dec. 15, to pass the Complete Streets ordinance, making the city the first in the state to adopt such a progressive policy.

The new ordinance was championed by Councilwoman Kristin Gislesen Palmer and a diverse coalition of public health and transportation advocates. The ordinance calls on the Department of Public Works, in consultation with the City Planning Commission, to implement a more systematic and thorough decision making process concerning improvements to the City’s transportation system. This process requires that local streets and bridges be designed not only for automobiles, but also for non-motorized roadway users.

Through this ordinance, the City acknowledges an array of facilities and amenities that support a complete transportation system, such as sidewalks, bike lanes and racks, crosswalks, traffic calming, street and sidewalk lighting, clearly visible signals and signage, accessibility improvements, public transit facilities, landscaping, utilities, drainage and storm water management systems, as well as street furniture and other amenities. Additionally, the policy calls for the program to be implemented by Dec. 1, 2012.

In full, the new policy states: “The Council of the City of New Orleans shall establish and implement a Complete Streets program by requiring that all planning, designing, funding, construction, operation, and maintenance of the City’s transportation network to accommodate and encourage travel for all users, including bicyclists, children, persons with disabilities, motorists, movers of commercial goods, pedestrians, users of public transportation, and seniors in a balanced, responsible, and equitable manner consistent with, and supportive of, the surrounding community.”

“By creating safer environments for our citizens, we’re also creating a healthier lifestyle for many,” said Joseph Kimbrell, CEO of the Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI). “The passage of this ordinance is another sign our community is become more forward thinking for us and future generations and we look forward to seeing these changes come to fruition.”

About the Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI)

Founded in 1997, The Louisiana Public Health Institute’s mission is to promote and improve the health and quality of life in Louisiana through public-private partnering at the community, parish and state levels. By fostering collaborative endeavors in the areas of health information, public policy, applied research, and community capacity enhancement, LPHI works to develop community-oriented solutions that improve the health of the Louisiana population. For more information, visit www.lphi.org.

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The word is spreading — New Orleans needs a Complete Streets ordinance! And we’re on our way to getting one. The City Council is scheduled to introduce an ordinance this Thursday (Nov. 17) and vote on it December 1. Check out this recent WWL-TV clip featuring local advocates and Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer talking about why we need this policy.

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On Saturday, November 13 the Kids Walk Coalition will host Walk & Roll Louisiana 2010, a first of its kind one-day summit to work toward improving street safety for recreation, bicycling and transportation. The event, which is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sojourner Truth Neighborhood Center, 2200 Lafitte St., will feature keynote speakers, workshops on improving community streets, bicycle safety trainings, helmet giveaways and a panel discussion on Louisiana’s new “complete streets” policy and what it means for local communities. Registration is free and open to the public. For more information or to register, visit www.WalkandRollLouisiana.org or call (504) 988-7778.