If south Louisiana’s major cities want to keep and attract bright, talented people, they’ll need to offer basic amenities that advance the quality of life, including ready access to bike and walking paths. Biking and walking are popular, and urban professionals have come to expect biking and walking trails as a fixture of progressive communities. The need for such biking and walking attractions is especially urgent in Louisiana, where high rates of obesity underscore the importance of encouraging exercise.
But reconciling the needs of cyclists and pedestrians with motorists has been challenging, as evidenced by high-profile accidents involving cars and bicycles on Baton Rouge’s Perkins Road and Chef Menteur Highway in New Orleans.
New Orleans officials have a great opportunity this week as a blue ribbon panel appointed by the Non-Flood Protection Asset Authority considers how to handle bike and auto traffic in the city’s Lakeshore Drive area.
Officials had restricted weekend car traffic along Lakeshore Drive for years, bringing complaints that the policy placed too severe a limit on motorists. A proposal being floated by Bike Easy, a cyclist advocacy group, would allow for two lanes of car traffic along Lakeshore, going east and west respectively, leaving another two lanes for cyclists. That plan seems like a reasonable way to enable access for both motorists and bikers, and we hope the blue-ribbon panel embraces it. A key ingredient of any public use plan is enforcement of speed limits and other traffic laws to keep all travelers on Lakeshore safe. By advancing constructive compromise, the panel could offer a model for other Louisiana communities to follow.