View From 1440 Canal, 23rd Floor

After zipping up to Tulane for the first day of summer school I took the Surly downtown for a meeting of the KidsWalk coalition. There were representatives from a whole bunch of interested parties–Metro Bicycle Coalition, Regional Planning Commission, Neighborhoods Partnership Network, Safe Routes to School, the AARP, the Department of Public Works, and several other groups. Turns out, there are lots of stakeholders in making our streets and sidewalks navigable for everyone. We all agreed on a pretty basic claim: If a kid lives near her school, she should be able to walk or ride her bike there, safely. Who could disagree with that, right? Nobody. But that doesn’t mean we make choices to make that possible. I snapped this picture from the window on the 23rd floor of 1440 Canal at the end of the meeting. This was an entirely  different vantage point from the one I usually have, rolling around town on the same streets, day after day. From up here I could see the Iberville public housing development, some new office buildings with parking on the roof, the Pontchartrain Expressway, the French Quarter, and the 7th Ward stretching into the distance. So many streets, so few of them easy to navigate for those of us not driving. We need to make different choices. We need to decide what makes our communities livable, for us. We need to demand that our money–that social wage we call taxes–be spent on the infrastructure that makes streets complete for all users, not just cars and drivers. And yes, kids should be able to walk or ride their bikes to and from school, safely.

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