NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans officials are studying plans to ban cars in the city’s French Quarter and transform the area into a pedestrian-only zone, the city’s mayor said.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell made the announcement Wednesday during a town hall with The Times Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate. Cantrell, who calls her idea “no cars in the quarter,” said the coronavirus outbreak has allowed officials to rethink ways public spaces can be used to promote social distancing.
“More parks and rec space grew out of pandemics,” she said. “I’ve told my team, let’s turn the map around and be so creative and innovative.”
Aside from the French Quarter, it was not immediately clear what other areas the task force is looking to ban cars. But in areas where vehicles are banned, restaurants and bars could use empty parking lots and streets to seat customers as their indoor capacity remains limited.
It could also give more space for performers and bikers on the street, Cantrell said. A “tiger team” that studied the proposal has also recommended pedestrian malls throughout the city, she added.
The city banned cars for two weeks in the Bayou St. John neighborhood this month, a move Cantrell’s administration said was received positively by residents. Banning cars in the French Quarter is a topic that has been discussed for years, but a similar proposal made four years ago by former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu never materialized.