In general, I hold the position that friends don’t let friends vote Republican. As I look ahead to the upcoming mayoral race, however, I think I may very well vote Republican, and I may do so without regret.
The main reason I would vote to re-elect Mayor Ballard is that I am an avid and devoted cyclist. I commute to work by bicycle, and I use a bicycle for nearly all of my day-to-day transportation. And during my 20-plus years of riding in Indianapolis, more progress has been made to improve cycling under Ballard than under all of the previous mayors combined.
When Ballard became mayor, three years ago, Indianapolis had only a single decrepit and out-of-the-way bicycle lane along Lafayette Road in the northwest corner of the city. Now, we have over 30 miles of bicycle lanes, and we will have another 30 by the end of this year.
When I mentioned to a friend that I was thinking about voting for Ballard because of his cycling record, she accused me of being a “single-issue” voter.
That’s a fair enough criticism, but for me this single issue is a big one. Moreover, it is connected to a number of other areas where Ballard has been doing good work. He has established an office of sustainability, and, in a variety of ways, has worked quietly to make Indianapolis a more environmentally responsible city.
In addition to bike lanes, I am seeing new sidewalks and facilities for pedestrians go into parts of the city that have never had them. For Ballard, bike lanes seem to fit into a broader plan about improving the environment of Indianapolis for everyone.
I keep waiting for Melina Kennedy to announce her own ambitious plans to build upon and enhance the city’s plans for pedestrians and cyclists. So far, I have been sorely disappointed.
If Kennedy’s main claim to the mayorship is that she was a protégé of Bart Peterson’s, then she has little credibility in this area. Peterson inherited the Monon Trail and a far-reaching plan for greenways development from Steve Goldsmith and Ray Irvin, and he let the momentum die.
On a national level, voting for Republicans seems, increasingly, to mean voting against evolution, against the rights of women, against a sensible response to global warming, and, ultimately, against the common good.
In Indianapolis, by contrast, voting for a Republican might mean voting for a more humane and livable city.•
Associate professor of English