A bicycling advocacy organization will begin installing temporary, protected bike lanes from Central City through the French Quarter next week to test ways to improve safety and access for cyclists in New Orleans.
The "Connect the Crescent" plan will reconfigure portions of four routes to make it easier, and safer, for bicyclists to traverse the downtown area. The pilot project will also gauge reactions to new approaches to keeping cars and bikes separate.
Each street will have a slightly different setup.
Decatur and North Peters streets will get a two-way bicycle track down the center of the street, surrounded by flexible posts to more clearly demarcate the bike lanes from those designated for cars.
Two bike lanes, also protected by posts, will be added along Canal Street from Peters to the ferry terminal, on the upriver side of the roadway.
Protected lanes on either side of Simon Bolivar Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard will connect Jackson Avenue to O.C. Haley Boulevard.
The most dramatic change may be a reconfiguration of Baronne Street, which has proved to be a frustrating experiment with bike lanes, with drivers often using them for turning and travel and delivery trucks blocking them entirely. Under the new set-up, the parking lanes on the lake side of the roadway will be moved to where the bike lanes are now, and two bike lanes — one in each direction — will take their place.
A similar set-up is permanently installed on Tulane Avenue and was tested temporarily on St. Bernard Avenue last year.
“These are the types of facilities that we’re seeing around the country and that really make people feel safe and want to ride their bikes,” Dwight Norton, the city's urban mobility coordinator, told the City Council’s Transportation Committee this week.
The project was put together by the bicycling advocacy organization Bike Easy. About 200 volunteers will help set up the bike lanes, and the $75,000 in other costs associated with the installation will be covered by grants and sponsorships, Bike Easy campaign manager Rob Henig Bell said.
The focus on routes from Central City to the French Quarter is aimed at helping people get to the Central Business District and Quarter, where almost 40 percent of the city’s jobs are located.
“We don’t need ... a protected bike lane in every place,” Bell said. “But we want this core network in place where people can get to their jobs.”
All the paint and equipment being installed are temporary, and the streets will be returned to their original configuration when the pilot project is over at the end of the year.
Work was initially expected to start Saturday, but organizers postponed it until Wednesday because of possible storms. Bell said the hope is that the lanes can be in place by Sept. 15.