Sunday, September 20, 2015

It's not official: The Lafitte Corridor bike path (New Orleans) is open

The paved path in the Lafitte Corridor as it crosses Jefferson Davis Parkway in New Orleans heading north.

        A 2.6 mile paved path passing through several neighborhoods between the French Quarter and City Park, is open.
          The path runs through the Lafitte Corridor, a skinny park or greenway beginning at the north border of the French Quarter in New Orleans at Basin St. Station and ending at Alexander St. three blocks from City Park. There is parking at Basin St. Station but none at Alexander St.
          Near the French Quarter the park is wide and there are ball fields and play areas near a public housing development.  The corridor narrows after passing Broad St.  The view of the derelict industrial area between Broad St. and Jefferson Davis Parkway is softened by freshly planted landscaping.  There are lights along the length of the trail though some residents have lingering concerns about security.
          Riders connecting the French Quarter with Mid-City and City Park also have the option of using the striped bike lane on Esplanade Ave.  The striping stops about two blocks from the FQ leaving riders between a narrow traffic lane and solid on-street parking but there seems to be be more two wheel traffic using it than the Lafitte Corridor.
         Maybe people don't know the Lafitte Corridor Tail is open.  There has not yet been a ribbon cutting signaling the end of construction. yet people have been bicycling and walking it for about two months now.  Almost every day or so workmen add something to it; a sign here, a fence there, a sprinkling of vegetation.
Can you find the blinking yellow lights?
Note:  Expecting those little flashing amber lights to have any influence on the drivers traveling busy four and six-lane streets and avenues crossing the trail equals crazy here in New Orleans.  As often noted in the Times Picayune, drivers here have long been proud of their reputation of ignoring crosswalks, striped or not.  The amber flashing lights, (which, by the way, are hard to see in the daytime anyway) at the intersections of the trail and Carrollton Ave., Broad St., Jefferson Davis Parkway, Galvez St. and N. Claiborne are next to useless in stopping two or three lanes of approaching motorized traffic so you can cross.  (Any driver stopping is probably from out of state.)  Crossing the street when a car is coming is very dangerous.  Wait until there is no traffic before crossing these busy streets.

         There is a deep crack on Broad St. a right angles to the path just as you come off the path heading north.  It might spill a rider on a bicycle with skinny tires into traffic.
           There is still landscaping work to do flanking the asphalt trail.
         Several businesses of interest to bicyclists cluster near N. Carrollton.  A high-end outdoor clothing retailer also selling camping gear and kayaks, sells bicycles and offers repairs.  A bicycle shop, with an entrance off Toulouse St. backs up to the trail next to the post office.  Neither shop rents bicycles.  Two grocery stores with deli's and outdoor seating share the trail's property line.
        Near the N. Carrollton intersection is a shopping center with a few trendy, inexpensive franchise eateries.  (You can get your nails done too or buy a phone)  You and your friends can celebrate your ride by having a burger, beer, tacos or frozen yogurt on the raised patio there.


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