2011 has been a busy year in Indianapolis with road repairs, sidewalk fixes and creation and the addition of more cycling infrastructure. Generally, I feel like I should leave coverage of cycling in the city to the folks over at IndyCog. My recent observations however, have spurred me to action.
This year we have seen a lot more construction of the Cultural Trail. I have reported fiercely on this project and given a lot of heated criticism in the area of the Conrad. However, at the core, this project has expanded vastly this year and should be mostly completed by the time the Super Bowl occurs providing weather and utility companies cooperate.
Shelby Street between Fountain Square and Garfield Park has been subjected to what I believe to be the most ground breaking project for cycling in Indy. On most spec sheets this project is simply termed “bike lanes” but what transpired was a healthy stretch of 100% separated two way bike track. Beyond Garfield Park, the rest of the project is normal on-street bike lanes. This project too, has not been without heated criticism from me. Our efforts combined with a citizen who lives in the area managed to get a utility pole moved out of the sidewalk. The project stands tall on it’s core design though.
In general, many miles of on street bike lane have been created. Downtown, street crossings are being subjected to green-colored paint to indicate where cyclists switch lanes. On Michigan St and New York through the downtown area, former angled in parking spaces have been converted to reverse-angle. This gives drivers much more visibility of cyclists coming their way and reduces the chance that a collision will occur. On 46th street between Keystone and College Ave, a former 4 lane road was reduced to three lanes and bike lanes striped. This is a HUGE step forward. Not only were bike lanes added which have statistically been proven to improve safety through reduced automobile speeds, but an entire automobile travel lane was removed.
Michigan Road is the subject of a new side trail being constructed. Other side trail projects are set to break ground soon on 62nd street between Keystone & Allisonville Road as well as 71st street from Binford Blvd to Hague Road.
In the City Market downtown, a cycling hub will be opening this month that features bike parking, showers, lockers and a repair shop.
This year, the MPO has also released a long term fiscally constrained bike plan for the entire Central Indiana Region which recommends many new bike facilities as well as policy changes that could have a long lasting impact on Indianapolis and how it approaches cycling for commuting & recreational purposes.
Taken on their own, these projects seem like small pockets of success for cyclists. However, if you consider that all these projects have taken place THIS YEAR ALONE, that is huge and for that, I can give Indianapolis a lot of credit. What I didnt cover in-depth for this post, but are included in my bikeway plan analysis, is how to leverage this year’s success into the future through better design.
I feel that we still aren’t seeing enough fundamental design changes to improve safety and encourage more people to move around by bicycle. Improvements like double lines for on-street lanes, more buffered tracks like Shelby Street and more changes like 46th street where 4 lane auto streets were improved to 3 lanes and added bike lanes; those are REAL improvements. The bike plan doesn’t paint a lot of that picture, and those are things that would really improve Indy’s budding bicycle culture.