Baton Rouge is among a growing list of cities moving from car-dominated street planning to those that are designed for “micro-mobility” alternatives like pedestrians, bikes and scooters.
Projects like those to revitalize the Plank Road corridor and the redesign of Government Street are reflective of national efforts to improve road safety and mobility.
A new report by Government Technology says cities should invest transportation money to make roads more “efficient, equitable and safe.”
Private cars have been dubbed the most inefficient mode of transportation based on the number of people moved per hour. According to the report, private cars sit idle 95% of the time. As cities get more dense, these idle cars choke off transportation and hurt quality of life.
Some cities are now putting more emphasis on dedicated bus lanes, protected bike lanes, and street parking for light electric vehicles like bikes and scooters to increase efficiency and mobility.
These theories are reflected in some of the latest projects in Baton Rouge.
The “complete street” transformation of Government Street, that’s scheduled to wrap up in early 2020, hits on trends of creating more user-friendly roads for cyclists and pedestrians.
The $11.7 million project includes adding a center, two-way-left-turn lane, enhancements to 4 miles of sidewalks, with ADA accessible ramps, adding bicycle lanes in each direction and installing a roundabout where Government intersects Lobdell and Independence Park.
The state Department of Transportation and Development has said the new road diet will reduce the number of accidents on that stretch of roadway by 25%.
The Government Technology report suggests these improvements improve safety and attract residents to increase their use of micro-mobility. Protected bike lanes have been successful in major cities like Seattle and Toronto.
“We should be redesigning our cities to prioritize transit, increase active and sustainable modes like micro-mobility solutions, and take cars off the road,” the report states.
As urban populations are projected to continue expanding worldwide, calls for efficiency have made the jump from transportation to how city spaces are used.
The Plank Road master plan is designed to “rebuild the density that great neighborhoods have,” while protecting affordable housing. The exact cost of the project hasn’t been released.
Most of the new developments in that area will be mixed-use, combining retail, commercial and residential developments. Access to green space, food-related businesses, public art, broadband internet and business alliances are also highlighted in the effort.