Existing Indianapolis bike lanes in need of improvement as more are added

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Indianapolis is a city with 64 miles of bike lanes and trails, and the goal is to add another 140. But a CBS4 investigation revealed there is room for improvement with the bike paths that are already established.

“I’d probably give it a C at this point,” said former IndyCog head, Kevin Whited. “A lot of people put their trash cans in the bike lanes, which they shouldn’t. A lot of people park in the bike lane, which they shouldn’t. A lot of delivery vehicles are in bike lanes and they shouldn’t.”

CBS4 found bike lanes along parts of Lafayette Road covered in loose dirt. Some bike lanes just disappear.

“Sometimes there are bike lanes that stop and should continue,” said Whited. “And that’s all about funding to finish the project.”

IndyCog, an Indianapolis bicycle advocacy group, asked its members to share their observations about weaknesses they see in Indianapolis bike lanes. Below are some of their complaints:

  • "Shelby Street and Madison Avenue bike lanes need a cleanup."
  • "Shelby Street north of Prospect fades into a lumpy, sad mess of a road with no lanes, no stripes, potholes, awful train tracks and scary cars."
  • "Capitol and Illinois bike lanes could use more protection. Both streets experience heavy traffic speeds."
  • "There is a sunken manhole cover in the bike lane on Illinois near 26th."
  • "The bike lanes on Allisonville as it crosses I-465 can be treacherous."

Whited is well aware of the Allisonville road bike lanes. The lanes are marked pretty well, but the speed of cars makes it what he calls a “black diamond bike lane.”

“The speed differentials are so great between a bicyclist riding 15 to 20 miles an hour and motorists going 40 to 50 miles an hour,” said Whited. “I’d like to see the city figure out how to do that, three to five feet of zebra striping between bike lanes and the other traffic.”

Jeff Gold is a bicyclist who was involved in a serious car/bike crash in Bloomington.  In his case, it was the driver simply did not see him, even though he’s six feet tall and weighs over 200 pounds.

Whited says there is at times a real animosity between the drivers of cars and bike riders.  He claims bicyclists who drive into downtown Indy from the east side experience more harassment than bike riders who drive to downtown from the north side.

“I think motorists get angry with bicyclists because they don’t look at us as a mode of transportation. They look at us like we’re in the way,” said Whited.

As Indianapolis adds bike lanes and trails, it has a ways to go to compare to a couple of very bike friendly cities. Boston is slated to have 356 miles of bike lanes and paths in the coming years. Portland has 1,000 miles of on street bike routes and 550 miles of off street trails. Six percent of Portland’s population bikes to work.

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