Back in 2013, Center for Planning Excellence wanted to show people what a redesigned Government Street might look like. So the organization turned to a guy whose radical idea was simply to take over the street … temporarily.
Jason Roberts launched the Better Block project in Dallas in 2010 to demonstrate how blighted streets might appear if they were turned into walkable districts with bike lanes, seating and landscaping.
CPEX’s Camille Manning Broome reached out to Roberts for advice on hosting a similar event for Government Street. What resulted was unheard of in Baton Rouge at that point: a weekend street party between Bedford and Beverly drives that created temporary bike lanes, crosswalks and landscaped medians on Government.
And what’s better, the city was in on it. Then-Mayor Kip Holden even led a bike ride down the makeshift bike lanes.
“That event really was the tipping point in getting things going,” Broome says. “That demonstration allowed people to visualize it and be part of it. How could you not get behind the project after that?”
Now that the Government Street road diet is well underway, CPEX is looking at other ways to get citizens involved in and excited about planning future projects—including at the Smart Growth Summit Nov. 13-14.