New Orleans streets will transform into playgrounds

October 23, 2013 11:00 AM

Naomi King Englar

For one day, a few New Orleans streets will come alive with people walking, cycling, dancing and playing games, all free of cars and exhaust. The first Play Streets Ciclovia event will bring people together on Oct. 26 from 9 a.m. until noon to walk and talk, get moving and feel good.


Play Streets Ciclovia event on Saturday morning (Oct. 26) will let kids play in the streets safely. (Photo from the Alliance for Biking & Walking)

Other cities across the world have created similar events, also called Open Streets or Ciclovia. There’s no start or finish line, and it will be free to the public.

To repurpose spaces for people to walk, ride bikes, dance and play, the plan is to close the lake-bound traffic lanes of Esplanade Avenue from N. Claiborne Avenue to Bayou Road, and Bayou Road from Esplanade Avenue to N. Broad Street.

The goal is to take this type of event to different parts of the city in the future, so more neighborhoods can experience it.

“Play Streets Ciclovia is about rejuvenating New Orleans,” says Jamie Wine, executive director of Bike Easy, a local bike-advocacy group and lead coordinator of the event. “It’s about creating a city that people want to work and live in and be healthy.”

Activities include dancing, soccer, hula-hooping, yoga, Pilates, skateboarding, biking, walking, cooking demonstrations, fresh food and a second line led by the Bone Tone Brass Band.

“When we show that streets can serve more than just cars and trucks, we can reimagine streets as these great places for walking, biking and staying healthy,” says Naomi Doerner, program manager for the KidsWalk Coalition at the Tulane Prevention Research Center.

“And by creating safe spaces for physical activity, we are helping make the healthy choice the easy choice.”

Play Streets is still looking for people to volunteer — the event is another opportunity for the Tulane community to log service hours for the Cowen Service Challenge.  

Play Streets Ciclovia sponsors include American Traffic Solutions, Bike Easy, the New Orleans Health Department, Louisiana Public Health Institute, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Partnership for a Healthier America’s Play Streets program and the KidsWalk Coalition at the Tulane Prevention Research Center.

Naomi King Englar is the communications and training coordinator for the Prevention Research Center at Tulane University and the Maternal and Child Health Leadership Training Program.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu