From the 16th to the 19th of September, the Sheraton Hotel of New Orleans was home to biking advocates, city planners, designers, community leaders, writers, artists and more—people of all walks of life who care about great public spaces. Presented by Project for Public Spaces and Bike Easy, this convening was the 20th annual WalkBikePlaces Conference. Neighborhood Design Center is proud to have not only attended this international idea exchange, but to have presented our work at two sessions.
The opening Keynote address was given by Tunde Wey, a chef and activist who uses food to challenge people to think about inequity (known for provocative pop-ups such as ‘SAARTJ,’ where diners paid prices in ratio to their demographic’s average income in New Orleans; whites paid $30 while African Americans paid $12). His work set the tone for the rest of the conference: equity is the priority. From all we learned hosting the ACD conference in June, this convening echoed those Reverberations, pushing us to learn more.
Monday afternoon was the poster session. Over drinks, conference attendees explored poster presentations—one of which was NDC’s! The poster explores our Place Matters program, its basic framework, and how we’re measuring its impact over time.
On Tuesday, Jennifer Goold presented on our Place Matters program in greater depth. Alongside two of our partners, Karim Amin (University of Baltimore) and Nick Mitchel (Noisy Tenants), she shared case studies exploring how Place Matters can build better connected and draw investment to communities. We presented to a packed room and the team received support and questions from an engaged audience.
The Crescent City, for all its reputation as a sinner’s paradise, really is a joy for bikers and walkers, too. The flat streets, combined with an increasingly present bike signage/lanes, the functional bike share program, and the relatively relaxed traffic (is it the heat that makes us all slow down?) makes riding easy. And what a joy it was on Tuesday evening, when conference attendees joined Get Up N Ride NOLA on their weekly ride of the city streets. It was a great last night in the Big Easy, and reminded us to enjoy our own city by bike (or bike party!) more often.