Friday, July 2, 2010

Oh, Those Bike Trails

A couple weeks ago, I was reading a post by Jon Easter on Indy Democrat in which he talked about asking the Mayor about the safety of the "bike trails." The Mayor thought he was referring to the Greenways, such as the Monon and the White River trail. I responded with a comment believing that Easter was referring to the "bike lanes" which I have often decried as unsafe.

I had forgotten about those other "bike trails" - those signs which appear throughout the city where city streets are arbitrarily marked as "bike trails," a suggestion those streets can be used safely for bicyclists. Those signs predate the Mayor Greg Ballard and are previous administration's attempt to placate the bicycling community. Anyone who has seen the signs know that they often mark roads that aren't safe for cyclists at all.

Yesterday, I biked up the Monon from downtown to the northside of Carmel. On the way home, I had to cut West, which is problematic for bikers in that part of town. There is no good safe east-west route as only a few streets cross the White River, resulting in more traffic on those streets. Without options, I eventually headed west on Kessler Blvd.

As you pass the intersection of Riverside (just West of Illinois) and Kessler, there is a steep hill with the road winding sharply to the right. There is no shoulder to the road and there is a curb that prevents a bicyclist from jumping off the road in an emergency. With the hill, a bicyclist speed drops to just a few miles per hour, while the traffic coming around the bend in the road (heading west), is going 40-45 miles per hour. The cars heading west up the hill and around the curve wouldn't be able to see the slow bicyclist until the last second, possibly resulting in the driver hitting the bicyclist or swerving into the other lane. Riding a bike on that stretch of the road is suicide. I got off my bike and walked along the side of the road until I got to the top of the hill.

Why do I bring this up? Because the suicide stretch of Kessler Blvd was marked as a "bike trail."


Downtown Indy said...

More accurately it's 'Bike Route.'

Following one of these 'routes' is impossible, as the signs are few and far between and (in my experience) not marking turns reliably. Further, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the numbers. Is 'route 20' west, east, south, or north of 'route 19'? Danged if I know.

I have a feeling the signs were borne of an effort to tap into some pot of federal money. They probably had to put up signs to get the money, whatever and however much that was, and that was that.

Certainly the signs do nothing useful and if we were to poll motorists and cyclists, they would either say they never noticed them or they didn'tknow what they were for.

Paul K. Ogden said...


You are correct. They do say "bike route."

Jon E. Easter said...

It was my fault for getting the semantics of the question wrong, but I was basing the question on the original post here from a few weeks ago, Paul. From the context, any sixth grader could have seen that I just got the term incorrect.

Unfortunately, the Mayor did not.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Ah, what lies our local officials tell us, in order to tap that federal well. Bike route, my ***.

Had Enough Indy? said...

There is a bike route that passes down my block. At the end of the street is a sign telling riders that the route (28, I think) turns right at that point. Nope, not really.

I have told a succession of 4 Township Administrators/Mayor's Neighborhood Liaisons about the error - yet the sign has never been replaced.

So, riders might want to keep a map of the bike routes with them and not entirely trust what signs do exist.