City issues RFP for redevelopment of former BlueIndy recharging sites

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The Indianapolis Department of Public Works on Friday said it had issued a request for proposals to reuse the spaces and underground electric infrastructure of the former BlueIndy electric car-sharing sites.

BlueIndy’s Paris-based owner announced in December 2019 that it was shutting the service in May 2020 after failing to achieve profitability. The service launched in 2015 with $6 million in city and county support for infrastructure. At that time, BlueIndy projected having 15,000 members on board by 2020. However, as of August 2019, it had just 3,000 active members.

In October, the city said it would release an RFP for developers to repurpose up to 42 of the 89 charging stations. At the time, city officials said they wanted to turn former recharging sites into bike-sharing stations, bike parking spots and charging stations for electric cars, scooters and bikes—but likely not back into traditional car parking spaces.

The RFP released Friday offers two response options–mobility and non-mobility.

The city said mobility-based responses are expected to “enhance Indianapolis’s overall transportation and mobility network, providing Indianapolis residents with improved access to services such as EV charging and micro-mobility.” It said non-mobility responses are “encouraged to be proposals that benefit the broader communities surrounding each location, such as placemaking opportunities, resource providers, or gathering spaces for art and culture.”

“Over the past few years, Indianapolis has been on the forefront of finding innovative ways to keep improving our transportation infrastructure network,” Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said in written remarks. “With the help of community-based research, the city has identified beneficial frameworks for how sites may be used, but this RFP also keeps the door open to creative ideas and services.”The RFP (titled Reimaging the Curb: RFP-14DPW-1511) is posted on the city’s bid portal here.

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11 thoughts on “City issues RFP for redevelopment of former BlueIndy recharging sites

  1. The much heralded and ballyhooed Blue Indy goes out without a bang nor in a blaze of glory – but with a whimper. And of course, in the aftermath of the failed progressive initiative, we get an even less transformation progressive redeployment that does not pretend to be objectively evaluated, but rather, relatively evaluated (i.e., “Well, they are idle now, so ANYTHING we do with those spaces is better than nothing”.)

    What would be more intellectually honest is to return the spaces to what they were BEFORE Blue Indy, then try to put together a proposal that has to clear the hurdle of being more supported than the baseline (the previously normal) use of the spaces. But they know instinctively their proposal could not stand that scrutiny, so this way they weasel their war to suboptimal use of the spaces.

    1. Disagree. The current state is the current state. These locations have infrastructure now that their prior state did not have, so it’s inappropriate to assume they’re just what they used to be.

      The best way forward is a plan for what things should be, but at least this process will account for the way things are now.

  2. I may be wrong, but as I understand it, funds for the Blue Car fiasco were diverted from the funds designated to repair and replace neighborhood streets. The terrible streets in my neighborhood were on the agenda, then they were not. NOT HAPPY!

    1. I believe Blue Indy received some money from the parking meter deal as well as a loan from IPL. For the parking meter deal, that money can only be used on streets with parking meters. Most parking meters are in commercial areas so it is unlikely your residential neighborhood lost any money that could’ve been spent on it instead.

  3. As people convert to electric vehicles, the city will need a strong infrastructure to support them – particularly people living in apartments without the ability to have a home-based charger. For those people driving through town who need to charge, they don’t want to just sit in their car for the entire time – they need restroom facilities and restaurants nearby. Any stations converted to EV charging should be near these types of facilities and near apartment buildings – but of course that is where everyone in town wants to be so they need to be monitored to make sure people are actually charging when parked there. And obviously, the spaces need to be bigger than the tiny Blue Indy vehicle spaces. The Blue Indy chargers gave us about 2-10 miles per hour of charge – clearly not sustainable (compared to a Tesla Supercharger at 200 miles in 30 minutes) so the network needs to be beefed up to accommodate the types of vehicles that will be charging at them.

  4. The electricity is already there so it only makes sense to make this usable for other EVs. The other option floated, “It said non-mobility responses are “encouraged to be proposals that benefit the broader communities surrounding each location, such as placemaking opportunities, resource providers, or gathering spaces for art and culture.” is nuts. I don’t even know what the first two items are. The third in that list, arts and culture, is hairbrained, and I’m a lib. It’s a freaking parking spot! You want to paint the space something other than asphalt, fine.

  5. EV are an unbelievable asset and will only improve in the future. However, in 20-25 years we will be lucky to achieve a 25% coverage rate. Yes most people will still be burning gas. Hopefully they will be mixed Gas/Electric Hybrids, but there is no way technology will advance to the point everyone will be electric. AND I SUPPORT EV AS OUR FUTURE!

    1. Donald, I agree with you statements and we drive a Chevy Volt. These location need be used for electric vehicle charging, bicycles, or both. The government is already backing these types of projects. Blue Indy was a fail but valuable charging infrastructure is not.