Years ago, a construction project brought some of the first bike lanes to Indianapolis on 52nd street in midtown Indianapolis. The reconstruction stretched from Keystone Ave on its eastern-most point and ended at the Monon Trail on the west end. With this reconstruction came the addition of a bike lane in both the eastbound and westbound shoulder, abutting the sidewalk. The project failed to address points west of the Monon, and what resulted was a divide in the landscape with the west side appearing as a bombed out and depleted looking stretch of street from the Monon to College Ave.
This summer, budgets finally opened up enough to continue what was started east of the Monon on 52nd street. The reconstruction of 52nd street from the Monon to College Ave and the continuation of the bike lanes all the way to College Ave. The realization of this accomplishment may not have came to fruition however. In early July 2010, road demolition crews made their way to 52nd street and started to eat up the pavement. Details on-site indicated the obvious road reconstruction coming, but neglected to address bike lanes; something that has been added to the Indianapolis Bike Plan for the next 2-5 years.
A viral campaign was mounted by Indy Hostel shortly thereafter that started out as a simple inquiry to anyone who would listen including local neighborhood associations. It quickly grew to an online petition and reached the ears of the IndyCog who, through their connections to the Indianapolis DPW’s Andy Lutz, insured that the bike lane extensions to College Avenue will in fact be laid.
What this displayed was a community’s desire for the right thing to happen instead of mindless road paving as has been the history of Indianapolis. The petition was started mostly regarding the absence of bike lanes, but it also addresses the awful looking sidewalks and the utility poles that randomly jut out of the sidewalk. In the long term, it would be nice to see the utilities relocated. To be sure, this an amazingly expensive task and while the outcome is a nice looking street with safer sidewalks, it is not likely to happen in cash-strapped Indy anytime soon.
We will continue to keep you posted as the final layers of pavement are laid, and striping begins later this summer.