Monday, May 4, 2009

Those New Downtown Bike Lanes

From May through September, I ride my bike to work downtown generally 3 days a week. It's an easy ride. I ride through some quiet neighborhoods on the NW side, pick up the White River Trial which takes me to Indiana Avenue. Then it's down the avenue to an east-west street which takes me to my office on Delaware Street. It's about a 9 1/2 mile, 35 minute trip. Very pleasant and relaxing.

On the way back, I generally ride up Delaware Street to Michigan Street which I then take out to Indiana Avenue. Michigan Street now has a bike lane in that area.

I think the Mayor deserves all the credit in the world for trying to make the city more bike friendly. I think he sincerely tried. But as a bicyclist, these downtown bike lanes are extremely dangerous.

Riding downtown is a piece of cake. Due to the wisdom of City leaders in the middle 1800s, we have wide streets with wide lanes, a feature you won't find in most cities. It's extremely easy to maneuver a bike in those lanes to avoid obstacles and traffic. Since I generally can keep up with traffic downtown, it's a safe situation.

The new bike lane though channels any bike traffic into a narrow lane, where you can't really maneuver around obstacles like potholes. Worse yet the bike lane runsin the middle of the road in many places. Cars wanting to turn right, have to cut across the bike lane. It's very easy to clip an unseen bicyclist under such circumstances, especially when requiring people to look over their right shoulder to change lanes, a less frequent manuever than one looking over his left shoulder.

Another problem is the bike lane often runs right next to parked cars. One thing you learn very quickly as a bicyclist is don't ride next to parked cars. It's very easy for someone to suddenly fling open a door and wiping out a cyclist.

Then you have the problem that the narrowing and elimination of lanes creating a traffic problem.

Again, a good effort. But these bike lanes don't work. The City should look at getting rid of them.


Diana Vice said...

Are you one of those bike nerds like my husband? ;-)

Downtown Indy said...

Personally, I think Mich and NY were two of the streets least in need of bike lanes.

I haven't seen the new lanes yet, but plan to check them out soon. I had no idea they were in the middle of the street. That's just wierd - as well as dangerous.

A couple streets in my part of town have been repaved in the past couple of weeks and they made them somewhat wider. I hope that is a trend. It would be great to gradually have streets widen out to give a little more room even if it's not a full-fledge bike lane.

I know said...

Be careful on the bike "nerds". I ride my to work everyday in the city I live in except December, January and most of February. It is the only sanity left that isn't taxed yet!.

Small world isn't it when everyone around you is on the same page. I agree with Paul the lanes on the side of the road can be sticky. I funded, with grants, several miles of trails and we could not put them along moving traffic. The liability would have been too high.

However, kindly give Mayor Ballard all due credit as he is trying to deliver his green program.

Paul, use recycled asphalt and crushed auto glass. There is plenty of both around Indiana and it qualifies as an environmental project. Keep your notes for the Mayor's Office. There are all kinds of neat things out there for cycling.

Diana, get the grand baby on a bike, She will love it.

jabberdoodle said...

Bike lanes require driver education to work well. I'm not sure what kind of alert is painted on the roadbed or what kind of signage might be available on these new bike lanes.

I'd vote for improving their utility over getting rid of them. We need more improvements like this to make Indy a more livable city.

Diana Vice said...

I'm only kidding about the bike nerd comment. I love bikers and biking. My husband was on the bike team at Ball State for the Sigma Nu's many years ago (1974ish). He got me riding a bike during our dating years, and I've been thinking about getting back into the sport myself. If I could just get over my fear of dogs!

Paul K. Ogden said...

Actually the lanes on the side of the road often fill up with glass and debris. Of course the adantage though is you're sealed off from some fo the traffic. Most of these bike lanes are well off the side of the road, often between two lanes of traffic. Then don't get me started with putting bike lanes next to parked cars.

Paul K. Ogden said...


You know if you can pedal reasonably fast those dogs will never catch you.

I know said...

Pedal Diana Pedal!!!!!

Diana Vice said...

I'm just sure a Pit Bull could run faster than I could pedal!