A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate to hitch a ride home from work from the far NE side of the Indy metro region where I currently work. My ride dropped me, along with my bicycle, near the 71st & Binford Ave area. Though the trek was a little long, I was able to conveniently ride my bike home with only minimal on-street interaction with automobiles. My short trip down 71st street to Allisonville Road was the only non-bike facility oriented portion of the trip to South Broad Ripple.
As I was riding, I thought about how convenient this trip was and how low-stress the experience was thanks to the bike lanes; even riding Allisonville Road’s bike lane. In the wider context, it got me thinking about the number of Indianapolis projects going on around town that address non-automobile related mobility projects.
Most of these are bicycle projects but some are pedestrian focused as well. For instance, the 62nd Street Multi Use Path, which Urban Indy has reported on repeatedly, opens up an entire corridor along 62nd street that was previously, 100% automobile oriented. With the completion of this project, cyclists and pedestrians now have a safer trip from Allisonville Road all the way to Broad Ripple via sidewalk, bike lane or bike path.
71st Street on the NE side is scheduled to see some similar improvements with a cycling path set to be constructed east of Binford Blvd, and sidewalks to be constructed west, and over the NE Corridor area and into the suburban neighborhood area connecting with an old sidewalk. This will instantly connect hundreds of potential future rail transit riders to not only a possible station there, but the Binford Blvd commercial node in this area.
Further south, 52nd street and 46th Street have both benefited from roadway lane reduction and bike lane additions in the last 5 years. Both of these corridors could serve a future NE corridor rail station near Keystone Ave where the rail tracks cross.
Closer to downtown, Fountain Square has received a tremendous amount of attention when it comes to it’s bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Not only has the Cultural Trail been routed through the core of the neighborhood’s commercial center, but a new separated cycle track is open. Additionally, a streetscape project aimed at attracting pedestrians has been underway for a couple of years.
There are a number of other projects going on around town of similar nature that aim to get more people out on bikes or sidewalks. You may be asking what all of this talk about sidewalks and bike lanes has to do with transit. The summation of all of these projects boils down to more access for area residents to take advantage of bus lines through the neighborhood. It means less sitting in a muddy patch for the bus or walking through grass or even on the street to get to the bus stop.
Simply put, all transit riders are pedestrians.
Providing safe and accessible facilities which promote walking or biking will go a long way towards making people feel comfortable with transit trips and thus, increasing transit mode share.
But is the city doing enough? Indianapolis still has a tremendous amount of city streets that lack sidewalks; even within pre-UniGov city limits where development patterns are more urban. That is a valid problem. Additionally, as Kevin (see image above) and Eric have reported, there are a number of recent roadway projects around town which fail to address adequate sidewalk design when rehabilitating our deteriorating roadways & bridges. These are issues which must be properly addressed at DPW.
As some of the above examples indicate, the rate with which the city seems to be attacking these connectivity issues is rising. With the recent adoption of complete streets, hopefully future resurfacing projects will include more sidewalks that are equally respectful of pedestrians and promote safe usage of our public transit system.