Get serious about biking infrastructure
Jeffery Tompkins, the creator of Indyimby, a blog about urban development in Indianapolis, says Indy could become a premier bicycle city with strategic investments that create connections for riders throughout the city. He proposes filling in missing links of existing bikeways with protected multi-modal lanes, then creating a grid of protected bike infrastructure to feed those new lanes. Among his suggestions are bike lanes to connect Haughville and Stringtown, both west of the White River, to IUPUI and downtown, and putting Delaware Street on a “road diet,” eliminating a lane for a protected line so the street is no longer a “racetrack” through the Old Northside. That lane would act as a sort of spine in a larger grid of bike infrastructure. He also proposes connections to Elevator Hill (the former Angie’s List campus on the east side), eliminating a parking lane on part of Market Street to dedicate to bikes, adding a bike corridor on College Avenue from just south of Massachusetts Avenue to Virginia Avenue in Fletcher Place, and many similar changes. “Sharrows will not be enough,” he says, referring to lanes that are marked for both bike and vehicular traffic. “Without protected infrastructure, commutes from the dense neighborhoods between the interstate and Fall Creek will remain a hindrance for all those east of Meridian.” A major investment in biking infrastructure would “encourage increased density in the Mile Square and, more importantly, increase the viability of real estate projects with little or no parking getting funded,” Tompkins writes. “Let’s do it.”
Elevate biking and walking trails over roads
Advaith Sreeram suggests raising biking and walking trails in some places so they take pedestrians and riders over roads, rather than across them. That would allow “traffic to coexist more easily,” he writes. “This would provide incentives to use more healthy methods of transportation.
Make self-driving vehicles the backbone of Indy’s mass transit system
Tony Petrucciani, managing partner at VisionTech Partners, is worried that, by the time IndyGo gets its planned bus rapid-transit lines fully operational, the technology and the system itself will be outmoded. He proposes rethinking the expense and complications of a bus system and laying the foundation for using self-driving vehicles as the way to get people who need transportation from place to place. Riders could use an app to call for a driverless vehicle, with a back-end system that determines the best car to send and the best routes to go. “Indiana needs to be a leader here,” he writes. And one key to that is involving the state’s research universities or Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology to develop the system. “The time is now to take our dollars that we are using to chase a soon-to-be-antiquated system and apply them to our leapfrog strategy,” Petrucciani writes.
Recess I-65/I-70 downtown to reconnect neighborhoods
The area downtown where interstates 70 and 65 come together—the so-called inner loop—is nearing the end of its life span. In fact, state officials are already working to rebuild the north split, despite frustration among some who say the interstates need to be rethought completely. Among them is Kevin Osburn, president of Rundell Ernstberger Associates. He is part of a group called Rethink 65/70 Coalition that is advocating a “transformational” redesign of the highways to reverse damage done to downtown and near-downtown neighborhoods when the interstates were built in the 1960s and 1970s. The group is advocating a plan to recess the highways (other than the north split, where construction is already underway). It’s working with the Indy Chamber and Lilly Endowment to prepare a study of the concept. “The analysis will help determine the feasibility of the recessed highway concept for restoring connectivity of historic neighborhoods, reconnecting the city grid, spurring inclusive economic development, and making Indianapolis a better place to live, work and visit,” Osburn writes. “The insights yielded by this study will inform critical decision-making going forward and constitute an opportunity for civic leaders and INDOT to continue to collaboratively envision possible directions for the future of our city and its interstate system.”
Create a rectangular bus route system
IndyGo recently restructured its routes to accommodate the rapid-transit Red Line and plans for Blue and Purple lines that are meant to move people faster along heavily used routes. But Clint Fultz, owner of Prime Site Brokers Inc., suggests that IndyGo should overhaul the routes again so fewer people have to take trips downtown to connect to other buses. IndyGo, he writes, “should only do big routes, with widely spaced stops, like the red, green and purple lines. Then add a large rectangular route that connects with those and lets people move around the county without going downtown.” Smaller routes should be abandoned, he says, and replaced with last-mile services provided by Uber, Lyft, taxis and other systems. “The result would mean that our bus system will become suitable for daily living,” he writes, “not simply a get-to-work tool.”•