New Indianapolis Museum of Art policy upsets bicyclists

The Indianapolis Museum of Art has upset local bicyclists with a new admission policy that some biking enthusiasts say has effectively locked them out of the museum's sprawling grounds.

The museum's longtime free admission policy ended in April, when it began charging an $18 admission fee. Museum officials also made most of the grounds off-limits to non-paying customers and locked a gate many bikers had used to enter the museum grounds.

Bikes were also forbidden on much of the museum grounds, even to paying visitors.

Museum Executive Director Charles Venable said museum officials forbade bikes — and cars — on the paid campus to make the grounds more peaceful and enjoyable for walkers.

"We want it reserved for pedestrians, a slower experience, like every other botanical gardens in the country," he told The Indianapolis Star.

Venable said that when the now-locked gate was open about 100 bikers a day used it as a shortcut to get to another street on the south side of the museum's grounds or to the Central Canal Tow Path.

He said that locking the gate prevents bikers from flying past paid guests and their children and upsetting the tranquility of the grounds.

Museum officials said there are bike racks where visitors can lock up their bikes and walk up steps to the museum grounds.

But Jeff Berman, an avid bicyclist, said the museum's new policy is frustrating to local bikers.

"As bicycle-friendly as this city has become in recent years, it seems counter-intuitive to do this," he said.

Biking enthusiast Susannah McManus said the new arrangement sends the wrong message to those who use bikes because they're concerned about the environment. She said it's also disappointing to neighbors in the nearby Butler-Tarkington and Meridian-Kessler neighborhoods.

The Indianapolis nurse said she's so upset by the policy change she may try to get a refund on her yearly museum membership.

"For a lot of people in the neighborhood, this is how they spend their Sundays, walking and biking to the museum and just strolling around without necessarily going into the building," McManus said. "I don't think they thought this through. This is promoting driving."

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