Four Baton Rouge neighborhoods will be transformed this weekend by a demonstration aimed at showing what the proposed Complete Streets ordinance will do for bike and pedestrian access, connectivity and calming traffic.
The displays in Bernard Terrace, Capital Heights, Valley Park and Webb Park come out of the Better Block demonstration ton Government Street in March 2013, said Tim Basilica, a spokesman for the Center For Planning Excellence.
CPEX is working with several groups, including the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors, the city-parish Department of Public Works, students from the LSU Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture and several Mid City neighborhood associations to put on the demonstration Friday through Sunday.
“We’re going out in 10 different spots to redesign streets to calm traffic and make it more safe, pedestrian friendly and bike friendly,” Basilica said. “We’re also going to increase beautification by putting up temporary street trees. We want to demonstrate the changes that Complete Streets can do for a neighborhood.”
The Complete Streets ordinance is set to go before the Metro Council later this year. It will work along with new design guidelines to promote urban developments that are friendly to drivers and pedestrians.
Basilica said the four neighborhoods that will be part of the demonstration reached out to CPEX after the Better Block demonstration in 2013. That display showed how Government Street would look as a three-lane road with a center turning lane and bike lanes — changes that will soon become part of the street.
“Those people said ‘Hey, with the Government Street redesign, people are going to use our neighborhoods as cut-throughs,” he said. “We want to show how you can take different neighborhoods next to each other and connect them, so people can go between them more easily and safely.”
Herb Gomez, executive vice president of the Realtors association, said the demonstration will help build a case for the city-parish to make the temporary improvements permanent.
“And improvements like these certainly help communities proactively increase property values,” he said.
Camille Manning-Broome, senior vice president at CPEX, said the demonstration will coincide with activities planned across the neighborhoods. The Webb Park Civic Association will host a “wine walk” Friday evening on Richland Avenue, and there will be a neighborhood playdate at Webb Park from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday.
“We hope people will use the demonstrations to bike and walk safely to these fun activities in their neighborhood and get a real feel for how these improvements will make their community better,” she said.
For more information and a list of activities, go to cpex.org/street-smart.
Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.