Here is an interesting article about rebuilding New Orleans while incorporating transportation options and complete streets. My family is originally from New Orleans, and I still have a lot of relatives there, so I enjoy reading articles about the place.
New Orleans has always been a walkable city, with a good useful public transit system. People from all over visit to enjoy the charm of the walkable French quarter, but this quality is not limited to the old city. Sidewalks are everywhere, and this pattern was extended outward as the city grew.
My uncle Gene, who lived in Metaire ( a suburb to the west of NO) worked downtown, and rode the bus to and from work everyday. Unlike my Dad, who drove to work, Uncle Gene never had much of a weight problem, and I often thought it might be attributed to this more active lifestyle. Same for my dad’s other brother, Rene, who would spend hours just walking for recreation, even after retirement.
Of course, if you don’t avail your self of the walkable option, you can’t get the health benefits. Many of the people in New Orleans have some of the worst eating habits and thus the area has one of the worst obesity, diabetes and heart disease rates in the nation. Some say it is the fried food culture, and a lack of healthy inexpensive options, but you can find healthy food in most of the metro area, so perhaps some of it is due to the growth in auto use that many say has led to obesity being such an epidemic nationwide. Walking to a transit stop every day is a more healthy lifestyle than driving everywhere all the time.
So, in many ways, New Orleans is a model of what a city should be: walkable, with a good transit system as an alternative to the car. I am glad they want to keep it that way, and are also adding bike lanes now, so now the model is compete. Now if they can just do something to make the food more healthy with out losing that great NO taste, they will be an ideal model!