City Provides Sneak Peak of Pedestrian-Friendly Ideas for the Quarter

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A walking tour guide assembles in front of Pat O'Brien's Bar in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Thursday, July 9, 2020. The City of New Orleans has released initial ideas from a committee brainstorming ways to make the French Quarter more pedestrian friendly. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

NEW ORLEANS — The City of New Orleans has provided a sneak peak at some of the ideas a committee is considering as it looks for ways to make the French Quarter more pedestrian-friendly. Ideas include:

  • Converting existing streets into permanent pedestrian malls
  • Adding pedestrian streetscapes (known as “parklets”)
  • Closing off French Market Place to motorized vehicles
  • Turning Frenchmen Street into a pedestrian mall during certain hours
  • Expanding sidewalks on Decatur and N. Peters streets
  • Reducing speed limits
  • Limiting access in some areas to local traffic only
  • Adding high-visibility crosswalks and protected bike lanes

Click here to see all the proposed details.

“There are so many reasons why this is the best direction for the French Quarter, which is really the heart of our city,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell, who created the committee after seeing an opportunity during the pandemic for some inventive urban planning. “In terms of the environmental and social impacts, fewer cars means a reduction of air and noise pollution, it means more people walking and bicycling, and it opens up opportunities to introduce street furniture and landscaping – all things that can help to create a healthier lifestyle and environment while preserving the cultural fabric of the neighborhood. I feel strongly that if done properly, creatively and in concert with anyone who wishes to participate in the process, prioritizing pedestrians is an effective and low-cost way to rejuvenate the French Quarter and promote livability in New Orleans more broadly.”

The city’s “pedestrianization team” includes representatives from the Chief Administrative Office, the Vieux Carré Commission, the French Market Corporation and more than a dozen other departments or organizations. The city and New Orleans City Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer, meanwhile, created an external pedestrianization team made up of French Quarter leaders to work in parallel with the other group.

“I’ve long believed that the status quo in the French Quarter is untenable, and a reduction of the car and truck traffic could improve the quality of life for residents while making a more sustainable setting for visitors,” said Palmer. “I recognized that such a project needed the input of key stakeholders early on, which is why I convened a working group of French Quarter residents and business owners who have been providing feedback to the administration’s team on a weekly basis. I look forward to further engaging with the public on the possibility of a safer, cleaner, more pedestrian-friendly French Quarter.”

Earlier this month, the city conducted a survey to gather initial data about how people use the French Quarter and what their top concerns are. 2,024 respondents ranked crime and public safety as their top worries and listed improved sidewalks and sanitation as their most desired improvements. Respondents weren’t clearly for or against the idea of adding pedestrian malls.

The city said that questions and/or comments about the process are encouraged and can be submitted anytime here.

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