Here at Urban Indy, we have long been proponents of keeping our city sidewalks free of automobiles. Providing space for pedestrians to safely walk along a street is key in offering a premium urban environment which leads to many things such as sustained economic activity at the neighborhood level.
The City of Indianapolis also seems to value this. Last year, a Complete Streets ordinance was offered by the City Council and adopted in a unanimous vote. Earlier this week, Smart Growth America rewarded Indianapolis’ efforts by awarding us the #1 ranking for policies implemented in 2012. This is a big deal for a city seen primarily as an automobile centered town.
Last year, when the ordinance was adopted, Urban Indy covered the policy and we also asked some questions such as, “How strict will it be? Will it have teeth to hold developers to the flame?” Certainly, with the time span required for new developments, it will be quite some time before we see any real change in how our development patterns occur. However, it does not stop our city from taking the spirit of the policy and putting the best foot forward when it comes to policing current developments.
Case in point, the new Alexander Hotel located SE of downtown in the newly opened, and critically acclaimed, CityWay. The Alexander has opened with much fanfare about the service of it’s hotel as well as the fine dining options. Indeed, you might expect valet parking to accompany such an establishment and you would be correct.
However, the operations of said valet have attracted a number of complaints from neighboring property owners as well as patrons of surrounding establishments. The IBJ reported (sorry it is behind a paywall) on this recently and uncovered an IMPD memo offering a reminder of our city’s valet ordinance.
The valet issues may have been policed, however, it appears that the Alexander has taken their promotion of automobile related services to another level. See the photo attached. They have been allowing Mini Coopers to park on their sidewalk as part of a Dreyer & Reinbold promotion.
Why is this being allowed to stand? Is it not enough that the Conrad is already valet parking directly on the Cultural Trail at a detriment to pedestrians and cyclists? Indeed, a number of downtown hotels seem to offer little concern for pedestrians and cyclists by offering valet parking directly on sidewalks.
In conclusion, this is a side affect of being a heavily auto-centric city. However, if we wish to promote Complete Streets policies in our designs, should we not also be enforcing it through the actions of our downtown service providers?