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The Challenges of Driving in the French Quarter 

Posted on Apr 21, 2021 in Car Accidents, Local Issues, Mardi Gras, Personal Injury, Resources, Traffic, Truck Accidents, Uber/Lyft, Uncategorized

There are plenty of good reasons to drive to New Orleans for your vacation, or to rent a car here after your plane lands. However, if you are a tourist from out of town visiting New Orleans for the first time you might not be aware of the many difficulties that surround trying to drive around downtown in the historic French Quarter. Locals are well aware of these challenges, and most New Orleans residents working in the French Quarter don’t drive to work because of them.  As a centrally-located New Orleans-based law firm, we here at Bloom Legal understand how hard it is to navigate the narrow streets of the iconic downtown French Quarter. Making yourself aware of these unique local driving hazards before you visit can help prevent an accident from ruining your vacation. 

French Quarter Driving Obstacles

The French Quarter is a colorful and magical place full of three hundred years of history. These ancient streets are full of fascinating sights and adventures. The best way to enjoy the “Quarter”, as the locals call it, is on foot. However, if you need to bring your car for any reason, here are a few things you should know so you can prepare for your vacation and drive like a local: 
  • One Way Streets
All the streets in the French Quarter are one-way and u-turns in that area are dangerous and nearly impossible. All these streets were designed before the invention of motorized vehicles, so they are quite narrow and most of the parking space is directly on the street so all traffic has to go one way.  
  • Cannot Drive Through Jackson Square
Many out-of-towners try to drive down Chartres street through the Jackson Square pedestrian mall. This is illegal, and likely to damage your car from running over the bollards or “curb stops”. This however, doesn’t keep some tourists from running over the bollards and concrete flower pots every year. 
  • Drunk Pedestrians
Many people are attracted to our beautiful city’s lax open container laws. New Orleans is a very popular party destination since drinking on the street is legal and all the bars offer alcoholic beverages to-go. However, this means that at all hours of the day and night there are drunk pedestrians in the street. When driving in the Quarter one must always be on the lookout for pedestrians, not just at the crosswalks. 
  • Bourbon Street
At night, Bourbon Street, New Orlean’s famed party hub, is a river of drunken revelers. This parade of partying pedestrians makes crossing the street in a vehicle very difficult. The City recently installed bollards at some intersections to reduce the number of traffic accidents on Bourbon Street, but drivers must still be very cautious in that area. 
  • Sharp Turns
As we mentioned before, the streets are quite narrow and cars are parked along the sides. This means that turning a corner in the French Quarter in a longer vehicle can be very difficult and even impossible at some intersections. Many trucks and stretch limousines have gotten stuck there while trying to make a turn. 
  • Mule Carriages
A fun activity to try while visiting New Orleans is a carriage tour. All of the tour carriages in the French Quarter are drawn by mules, not horses. This is because mules are smaller and they handle the heat, humidity, and noise better than horses. It is important to respect the mule carriage’s space and keep your car back at least 15 feet at all times when behind one. These carriages move quite slowly because they are giving history tours. 
  • No Bike Lanes
In the French Quarter, most food delivery drivers are on bicycles. New Orleans also offers pedicabs. However, there are no bike lanes in the French Quarter, so you must share the street safely with cyclists. Always be aware of your surroundings and check for cyclists when driving downtown or anywhere else in the city. 
  • Blind Corners 
Due to the narrowness of the streets, the sharpness of the turns, and the fact that cars must park directly in the streets, there are a lot of intersections with low visibility of oncoming traffic. Use all your senses and be vigilant when using any intersection in the Quarter. If something is blocking your view, try not to cross the intersection too quickly. 
  • Very Little Parking 
There are not many driveways or parking lots in the New Orleans French Quarter. Many of the hotels and restaurants there do not have their own designated parking. Much of the on-street parking is reserved for residents with a residential parking permit only. There are parking lots nearby in the Central Business District, so you might be better off leaving your car there. If you plan on drinking while downtown, then it is best not to drive at all, but take a cab or the streetcar instead.  Being cautious and only operating your vehicle while alert and sober is the best way to stay safe while driving in the French Quarter or anywhere else. 

Were You In A French Quarter Traffic Accident? 

Sometimes despite all caution and best efforts, accidents still happen. At Bloom Legal, whether you are a tourist or a local, our New Orleans traffic attorneys are ready to help. If you or someone you know has been injured in a French Quarter traffic accident contact us right away!

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