Last Wednesday, Mayor Ballard's Office of Sustainability held an open house to discuss Indianapolis' Master Bike Plan: a guiding document for the development of bikeways through 2020. Bicycle Coordinator, Jamison Hutchins, shared some key aspects of the plan and invited the public's questions and comments before the finalization of the 71 page document.
Since the City of Indianapolis was first recognized as a Bicycle Friendly Community at the Bronze level in 2009 by the League of American Bicyclist (LAB), the city has set its sights on reaching the next level of bicycle friendliness. The Bicycle Master Plan outlines the vision, goals and implementation steps to be taken in the next seven years to improve connectivity and ease of use in our growing bicycle infrastructure.
The Master Plan evolved under the outline of the Six Es: engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, evaluation and planning and equity, with an overall goal to construct 200 miles of on-street bicycle facilities in the next seven years. With the adoption of the Complete Streets Ordinance last August, city planning intends to incorporate the needs of all users (pedestrians, bicycles and cars) into already scheduled road construction projects. Within the context of that ordinance and through collaboration with bicycle focused organizations, the Master Plan sets goals, objectives and benchmarks to improve Indy's bicycle infrastructure.
Perhaps some of the most interesting aspects of the plan are the introduction of bicycle boulevards and bicycle boxes. Sometimes called "neighborhood greenways," bicycle boulevards are streets where all vehicles are allowed but that have been enhanced to improve bicycle safety and convenience. The idea is to calm vehicular traffic while creating a safe way for neighborhood residents to reach main thoroughfares of our already existing bicycle infrastructure.
As an urban bicyclist, I'm most excited about the implementation of bicycle boxes. These designated areas for bikes at an intersection push vehicular traffic a few feet back. They give a clear area for bicycles to queue up ahead of traffic, making it easier to cross multiple lanes on a busy road when stopped at a red light. This feature keeps both cars and bikes out of crosswalks and out of the way of pedestrians.
In general, Indianapolis' Master Bike Plan reflects a change in mentality when it comes to city planning and how projects are approached. In a city with a transportation infrastructure designed first and foremost for cars, bicycle and pedestrian needs are being taken into account at an equal level.
For more information about the Master Bike Plan, head to Sustain Indy's website. Or click here to view the document in its entirety. If you missed the public forum but have an opinion to share about our city's plans in regard to bikeways, the Office of Sustainability remains in its 45 day public input period until November 3. Contact bicycle coordinator Jamison Hutchins (Jamison.Hutchins@indy.gov) with your questions, comments and concerns.