Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Is Indianapolis a Bicycle Friendly City?

Recently, fellow blogger Paul Ogden has taken some heat in his multiple posts (here, here, and here) on bike lanes and the dangers of them from what seems like posters from The Indy Cog. The Indy Cog is a popular web site for cyclist enthusiasts of the Indianapolis area, a website I first found by visiting the link via Bart Lies!

You can decide if bike lanes are beneficial or not for yourself. Personally, the "dooring" brings me some concern, but I'll give the benefit of the doubt for now that it won't be a concern.

My thoughts on the matter is that while these bike lanes are a good start, there is still plenty of work to be done. I understand that not every road can be expanded, but many of the roads with bike lanes really feel like they were put in without much thought. In places like downtown and the cultural districts (Broad Ripple, Mass Ave, Fountain Square, etc...), motorists are already accommodating of cyclists. Especially in downtown, where speeds rarely go over 30mph due to frequent stop lights and signs, pedestrians, and the wonders of traffic.

But bike lanes outside of these areas, or even biking on the roads, is a different story.

Many roads outside of the cultural areas and downtown are just not accustomed to having bikes share the roads. Fortunately, I think there is a solution.

In Marion County-Indianapolis, it is not illegal for bicycles to be on sidewalks. As I've mentioned earlier, cultural areas and downtown have relatively few problems with motorists sharing the road with bicycles. These are also the places where the sidewalks are utilized by pedestrians.

But on roads that aren't bike friendly, they might have some sidewalks, which aren't often used. I like to point to the sidewalk that circles around the Georgetown and 56th St. area. It is not heavily used by pedestrians, and is relatively new. It's smooth, and isn't littered with potholes like the street sometimes is (which is a whole OTHER problem about riding on the streets, but I digress). In lieu of cultural trails going up around the city, extending sidewalks on Michigan/MLK Roadd, 38th Street, Fall Creek Boulevard, and other areas will make it easy for cyclists and motorists to co-exist. And for people like myself who want to commute with our bicycles but are still nervous about riding on the roads, it gives us a good way to get used to the environment.

See, I think a bicycle friendly city shouldn't just be friendly for the cyclists already doing it, but for people who want to do it but haven't done it yet. Extending sidewalks on these busy streets would go a long way to accomplishing that.

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