Safe Places to Walk

Tulane University, Prevention Research Center

Two men jogging

New Orleans, Louisiana, was designated a bronze-level Walk Friendly Community by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC), a national program that encourages communities to make walking safe. In commending the city, PBIC highlighted the KidsWalk Coalition, a partnership of city and state organizations led by the Tulane University Prevention Research Center (PRC).

The KidsWalk Coalition conducts a variety of activities to improve conditions for pedestrians in New Orleans. It coordinates school crosswalk maintenance and traffic sign replacement with the New Orleans Department of Public Works and advises schools on campus safety improvements. It helps elementary and middle schools apply for and implement Louisiana’s Safe Routes to School program, which provides grants for infrastructure improvements, education programs, and enforcement measures such as crossing guards. The coalition provides technical assistance for implementing sustainable changes that encourage walking and bicycling, such as New Orleans’ December 2011 Complete Streets policy, which requires the city’s transportation network to accommodate travel by all users including pedestrians, bicyclists, children, people with disabilities, older adults, and motorists.

A walking path increased physical activity in the entire neighborhood, not just along the path.

“Everyone is a pedestrian,” says Kathryn Parker-Karst, KidsWalk Coalition director and assistant director of the Tulane PRC. “The KidsWalk Coalition is proud to support the city’s efforts to make walking safer and easier.”

In recognizing New Orleans, PBIC cited the Complete Streets policy, as well as the KidsWalk Coalition’s assessment of walking conditions near schools,1 New Orleans’ solicitation of public opinion during zoning and planning processes, the city’s widening of sidewalks and medians, and other factors. PBIC made several recommendations, including enforcement of yield-to-pedestrians laws, to further improve walking conditions in New Orleans.

PBIC, sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration and FedEx®,* has designated only 24 communities across the United States as Walk Friendly, from bronze to platinum level, since the inception of the Walk Friendly program in 2010.

1KidsWalk Coalition. Stepping to School: An assessment of neighborhood walkability
and solutions for a safer, healthier New Orleans. Prevention Research Center at Tulane University. New Orleans, 2011. Accessed November 30, 2018.

2 Gustat J, Rice J, Parker KM, Becker AB, Farley TA. Effect of changes to the neighborhood built environment on physical activity in a low-income African American neighborhood.
Preventing Chronic Disease 2012;9:110165. Accessed November 30, 2018.

*Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.