Sen. Aaron Freeman, city reach temporary truce in ‘no-turn-on-red’ fight

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A Republican senator from Indianapolis is backing off this year on legislation that would have repealed a city ordinance banning right turns on red at certain downtown intersections.

Sen. Aaron Freeman instead offered an amendment Thursday that would require the city to pause the installation of any more no-turn-on-red signs until July 1, 2025. The amendment was added on voice vote to Freeman’s Senate Bill 52, which would put a one-year moratorium on IndyGo’s usage of dedicated bus lanes for the Blue Line..

Over the next year, a state task force would assess both the impact of IndyGo’s dedicated lanes and the city’s  no-turn-on-red restrictions. The tas force would be required to submit a report to the Legislature by Dec. 1, 2024.

Freeman called the amendment a “compromise between [him] and the city of Indianapolis.”

In a statement, city spokeswoman Aliya Wishner said discussions with Freeman over city authority and data regarding the traffic restrictions led Freeman to drop his initial bill to repeal the no-turn-on-red ordinance, which city officials say is intended to improve pedestrian safety.

“Senator Freeman heard those concerns, and instead of moving his bill forward, offered an amendment to pause installation of new signs for one year to allow for further study of the effectiveness of these traffic controls,” Wishner wrote. “We look forward to submitting the data that supports these critical safety measures next year.”

The change is a rare glimpse of compromise in what has been a very rocky relationship between Freeman and Democratic city leaders.

That friction is best exemplified this year by the bill that now holds the no-turn-on-red amendment. Senate Bill 52 would prohibit IndyGo from using dedicated lanes for the Blue Line project, a measure the public transit agency says will effectively kill the project. That bill now awaits a vote in the full Senate.

Freeman filed similar bills in previous sessions that made it out of the Senate chamber but failed to gain House approval.

Last year, Freeman sought, but failed, to block the no-turn-on-red ordinance. His legislation banning such an ordinance in Indianapolis was signed into law, but it was written in a way that allowed the Indianapolis City-County Council to enact the ordinance before Freeman’s state legislation could take effect.

Despite the new compromise, city officials haven’t been shy about saying that Republican legislative proposals targeting Democrat-controlled government in Indianapolis have been a thorn in the city’s side.

“If you have people who are as passionate as some legislators seem to be about the direction that Indianapolis is taking … I’d encourage them to consider leaving the Legislature and come run for the City-County Council,” Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett told reporters during a media briefing on Wednesday.

Freeman was a city-county councilor from 2010 to 2016.

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12 thoughts on “Sen. Aaron Freeman, city reach temporary truce in ‘no-turn-on-red’ fight

  1. This isn’t really a compromise at all. It’s more of a trade.

    Freeman gave up his most unlikely-to-happen negotiating position for two studies that will certainly be used as the pretext for future anti-Indianapolis legislation.

    I wouldn’t be so cynical, but 1.) Freeman commissioned a study of Marion County’s former state roads last year with SB252. This year and 2.) Freeman has been using that study to push the idea that The State might take over Marion County’s former state roads in 2025. The argument was the basis for our Todd Huston’s verbal support for SB52 this year.

    In case you don’t know, Huston is the Speaker of the House and Freeman’s anti-Indy bills usually die in the House. SB252 has yet to make it to the House, but when it does, don’t be surprised if the rhetoric surrounding SB52 shifts towards talks of a vague plan for the state takeover local roads (in a way that Marion County/Indy would never agree to in the first place).

    1. Didn’t John Oliver do an entire special about the hundreds if not thousands of uneducated people in power like Freeman around the US?

      The nephew of a large land owner bought a senate seat and now we all have to deal with the aftermath of their backwards understanding of capitalism and living in a republic

    2. Good insight by Robert … the state has created the issue of chronically underfunded roads in Marion County by stealing gas tax money paid by Marion County taxpayers and spreading it around the rest of the state; they will proclaim they are fixing the problem by taking control away from the city of Indianapolis and letting INDOT design the roads with no regard to the local communities they’re going through. (See the North Split and the Mid-States Corridor Project).

      It’s enough to make you wonder if another issue is that the city of Indianapolis isn’t using the right companies that are preferred by INDOT, aka write the big campaign contribution checks to state legislators.

    1. He just can’t get past being a City-County Councilor in the minority party and things never going his way.

  2. Glad to see some brakes being put on the systematic destruction of our urban grid’s ability to carry vehicular traffic. This is the same city government that says safety is so important but can’t be bothered to lay down visible crosswalk stripes, instead allowing curlicues and marketing messages for the Cultural Trail and every other silly design that crosses their transom. A profoundly unserious approach to urban design. Kudos to Sen. Freeman.

    1. Richard, Educate yourself on what urban designers call the urban street grid and how and how it works. I think you’re confused on what makes a successful urban street grid.

      Former state highways punch though Indy with terrible effects on the city. In addition to Washington St, Shadeland Ave, 38th St, Kerystone Ave, all could use a road diet to make the roads safer and actually make them work better for everyone.

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