Today, I went down to an event in Baton Rouge called Better Block BR. Organizers transformed Government St between Beverly and Bedford Streets with a street fair, crosswalks and a short bike lane. In an empty lot on Government St, there were food stalls, information tables and booths from area businesses. Better Block Br was an event led by the Mayor’s office of the City of Baton Rouge – Parish of East Baton Rouge, the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority, and the Mid City Redevelopment Alliance. I got some information on this and other Baton Rouge initiatives like Healthy BR and discovered some local businesses like Honeymoon Bungalow and Yoga Bliss. I also got some delicious tacos from La Careta. I had heard about this event on Facebook a few weeks ago so I was looking forward to seeing how it went.
The idea behind this demonstration is that if you slow down the traffic in a given area, businesses can thrive. The idea is that you can take a four-lane road and transform it by adding a bike lane and a center turn lane. This forces traffic to slow down and makes a better environment for pedestrians and cyclists. I had recently read about this idea in Jeff Speck’s book Walkable City. He cites several examples of cities who had done this and had seen positive economic impact.
I think this would be a great improvement to this section of Government Street. I think it would help back it a better neighborhood and attract more business. I live in Mid City and work downtown and it would be great if there was a safe bike route in the area. I am glad that the Mayor’s office is trying to garner support for this type of urban renewal.