Indy Recognized Nationally as Bike Accessibility Booms
May 08, 2014 10:14PM
By Lanette Er
Some may be surprised that a city known for the largest auto races in the world would receive national attention for bicycle accessibility, but Indy is undeniably rolling down a path toward connectivity that is encouraging Hoosiers and out-of-state visitors alike to adventure through our city using pedal power.
In early March, The New York Times published a feature about the eight-mile Indianapolis Cultural Trail’s success at connecting all things culture and entertainment downtown. Even more recently, People for Bikes announced that they have selected Indianapolis as one of their next six Green Lane Project recipients, under which the city will receive financial, strategic and technical assistance to create low-stress streets and increase vitality in urban centers through the installation of protected bike lanes. In addition, Indianapolis and Carmel are recognized as Bicycle Friendly Communities by the League of American Bicyclists.
For those not sure what is so special about Indy’s biking scene, let’s do a quick recap. Indianapolis is home to more than 70 miles of on-street bike lanes and more than 60 miles of greenways. These numbers have grown since Indy adopted Complete Streets in 2012. Complete Streets is an ordinance stating that improvements to city roads must be designed so that pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and public transportation users of all ages and abilities can safely move along and across a street.
Not only is the infrastructure present, but so is a means to ride without having to spend money on a new bike. A generous gift from the Herbert Simon Family Foundation has allowed the Indianapolis Cultural Trail to roll out the Pacers Bikeshare program. A fleet of 250 bikes at 25 stations throughout downtown are available for unlimited 30-minute rides for either an $80 annual fee or an $8 24-hour fee.
When ready to buy a bike, there are a number of local bike shops, but also consider purchasing a vintage bike from Freewheelin Community Bikes at 33rd & Central. They also do repairs and accept old bikes as donations for their Earn-a-Bike program, which teaches bike mechanics and maintenance to youths ages 10 to 18. Once students demonstrate proficiency, they choose a bike from the donated stock to restore and take home.
Certainly a detriment to new cyclists hitting the pavement is the issue of safety, both for the person and the newly purchased bike. For the bike, IndyCog presents bike registration through BikeIndex.org, as well as StolenBikeRegistry. com, where stolen bike listings are automatically synced with the website and posted to [email protected] IndyCog also has a webpage dedicated to helping bicycle owners avoid theft. The site includes tips like purchasing a high-quality bike lock, locking bikes to fixed objects and storing bikes indoors.
SustainIndy’s website has links to maps of the system, as well as brochures and guides explaining how to navigate bike lanes and greenways safely. Both motorists and cyclists should be educated on symbols and lane markings, as well as the rights and responsibilities of each user in sharing the road.
Besides knowing the rules, riding with experienced cyclists can also improve safety and comfort. There are a number of meet-up groups and clubs that cycle the city. A great introduction to on-street cycling is Bike to Work Day. Coordinated annually by IndyCog, this year’s event is taking place on May 16. Meeting places are scheduled at specific locations all over the city and surrounding areas with ride leaders that guide participants on pre-determined routes to the Indy Bike Hub YMCA. Meeting times range from 5:45 a.m. to 6:15 a.m. so that all riders converge on Indy Bike Hub at 7 a.m. to celebrate, eat and visit bicycle-related vendor booths. Indianapolis businesses compete for prizes in different categories, including most employees that participate, highest percent of employees that participate, and highest number of new commuters.
The most important step to discovering Indy as a bike-friendly city is taking that first ride. The resources to do so are plentiful and the reviews are excellent. It would seem that the only thing one stands to lose by doing so is a few pounds.