Everyday, it seems a feel-good story floats across my twitter feed about a new bicycling facility that was constructed somewhere. Whether it was a new cycle track in Chicago or a beer pong bike lane in NYC, the data tells me that when dedicated cycling infrastructure is built, the press given to the local response is positive and that new riders are getting out on the roads.
It should come as no surprise that my heart asks, why isn’t Indianapolis doing more of this? To be sure, we are making great strides here when it comes to cycling. I have been reporting the construction progress of the 62nd Street multi-use trail on Indy’s northside. The Cultural Trail is crawling forward to completion downtown. Next year, it is rumored, a bike share will open downtown along the Cultural Trail. Shelby Street is playing host to a new cycle track and this year, a 3rd jewel was added to our local crown of cycling races.
Yet, get out on a bike during rush hour and feel the wind at your back of a 40mph automobile speeding past, and you may think twice about braving the major through-fares that host what has become the standard Indianapolis bike lane. Pictured below, is an example of what you will find on a number of Indy’s bike routes; the single stripe right-next-to-traffic lane.
Cities across the nation are competing with each other in an increasingly high stakes game of bike infrastructure one-up-manship. Chicago is the latest player to the game with 33 miles of on street separated lane planned for this year. That is a TREMENDOUS achievement since this is a relatively new inroad for the city.
My question is this: If Chicago can do this so quickly, why can’t Indianapolis?
We are likely to see many more miles of the single stripe variant in the coming years. Those will go a long way towards alerting motorists that there are cyclists on the road, cell phones need to be put down, and respect needs to be given to all modes of transportation. However, if we want more cyclists on the road, and that answer should be yes for a multitude of reasons, my preference would be to see many more separate or double striped version such as those common to places like NYC and Portland.
As always, the floor is now open for discussion.