I’m sure we’ve all seen it or experienced it a time or 10 here in Indy. Walking down the sidewalk (when there is one available) and someone either comes at you on a bike, or brushes past you from behind on a bike. Some go fast, some go slow but the fact that they are cycling ON THE SIDEWALK is the point I wish to examine with this post.
I have thought about this one for a long time but a recent brush really called me to action. I was crossing West Street to get to classes at IUPUI. I saw someone riding up the sidewalk of West Street and when I got across, we were in close proximity to one another. He turned and went another way, then apparently changed his mind and turned around and almost mowed me down. I did not stop walking so I don’t know if he though I was going to stop for him or what, but I put my hands up and grabbed his handlebars and angrily pointed at the now freshly re-painted bike lane on Michigan Street and said, “You’ve got lane for this thing, watch where you’re going.”
Was I in the right? According to the City of Indianapolis, the cyclist technically did nothing wrong. I’ve been unable to find any code city or state, that prevents someone from cycling on a sidewalk. In fact, all that I could find about sidewalks period was in the state code and it states that MOTORIZED bikes are allowed on sidewalks provided they do not interfere with pedestrians.
Whatever the case, as Indy grows it’s cycling culture, more people are getting out and pedaling to their destination. I have no issues with that whatsoever. What I DO take issue with, is that pedestrians again, must be the ones who have to take it in the hind end when someone on wheels, whether it be bikes or a car, decides that they aren’t happy with the current conditions. Case in point, the Michigan bike lanes. Are they dangerous? You can ask 50 people and the odds of that person saying the Michigan Street lane is unsafe are good. We have debated the merits here over and over again. So, when a cyclist gets onto the sidewalk on Michigan, I get it. But in the same breath, I don’t get it. There are other slower streets such as Ohio, Vermont as well as others that one can get across town. These streets are two way, slower, and generally I consider them to be more safe for cyclists to ride with traffic. Is it so much to ask them to move to those streets if they feel Michigan is unsafe?
I may be breaking ranks with my fellow cycling advocates and maybe even with fellow members of this site. With a budding cycling culture, there are likely to be head-butting conflicts such as those that I have described. Having a healthy conversation about how cyclists should be using the streets and sidewalks, is good for all of us.
2011 has been a busy year in Indianapolis with road repairs, sidewalk fixes and creation and the addition of more cycling infrastructure. Generally, I feel like I should leave coverage of cycling in the city to the folks over at IndyCog. My recent observations however, have spurred me to action.
This year we have seen a lot more construction of the Cultural Trail. I have reported fiercely on this project and given a lot of heated criticism in the area of the Conrad. However, at the core, this project has expanded vastly this year and should be mostly completed by the time the Super Bowl occurs providing weather and utility companies cooperate.
Shelby Street between Fountain Square and Garfield Park has been subjected to what I believe to be the most ground breaking project for cycling in Indy. On most spec sheets this project is simply termed “bike lanes” but what transpired was a healthy stretch of 100% separated two way bike track. Beyond Garfield Park, the rest of the project is normal on-street bike lanes. This project too, has not been without heated criticism from me. Our efforts combined with a citizen who lives in the area managed to get a utility pole moved out of the sidewalk. The project stands tall on it’s core design though.
In general, many miles of on street bike lane have been created. Downtown, street crossings are being subjected to green-colored paint to indicate where cyclists switch lanes. On Michigan St and New York through the downtown area, former angled in parking spaces have been converted to reverse-angle. This gives drivers much more visibility of cyclists coming their way and reduces the chance that a collision will occur. On 46th street between Keystone and College Ave, a former 4 lane road was reduced to three lanes and bike lanes striped. This is a HUGE step forward. Not only were bike lanes added which have statistically been proven to improve safety through reduced automobile speeds, but an entire automobile travel lane was removed.
Michigan Road is the subject of a new side trail being constructed. Other side trail projects are set to break ground soon on 62nd street between Keystone & Allisonville Road as well as 71st street from Binford Blvd to Hague Road.
In the City Market downtown, a cycling hub will be opening this month that features bike parking, showers, lockers and a repair shop.
This year, the MPO has also released a long term fiscally constrained bike plan for the entire Central Indiana Region which recommends many new bike facilities as well as policy changes that could have a long lasting impact on Indianapolis and how it approaches cycling for commuting & recreational purposes.
Taken on their own, these projects seem like small pockets of success for cyclists. However, if you consider that all these projects have taken place THIS YEAR ALONE, that is huge and for that, I can give Indianapolis a lot of credit. What I didnt cover in-depth for this post, but are included in my bikeway plan analysis, is how to leverage this year’s success into the future through better design.
I feel that we still aren’t seeing enough fundamental design changes to improve safety and encourage more people to move around by bicycle. Improvements like double lines for on-street lanes, more buffered tracks like Shelby Street and more changes like 46th street where 4 lane auto streets were improved to 3 lanes and added bike lanes; those are REAL improvements. The bike plan doesn’t paint a lot of that picture, and those are things that would really improve Indy’s budding bicycle culture.
Urban Indy is a huge champion for cycling improvements within the Indianapolis area. Cycling is a low cost, low emission and healthy way to get around for short trips to the store, to see friends, get to work, school, etc. It is with these thoughts, that I am happy to pen this review of the recently unveiled Central Indiana Regional Bikeways Plan (click to open 79 page .pdf).
The Indy MPO has been gathering input over the past year from people via the Indyconnect site as well as some other public meetings. Existing bicycle plans were taken into account and a fiscally constrained long range plan for bicycling has been rolled out. Much like the region’s LRTP with covers roads, transit, etc the bike plan is constrained by the amount of funds available. Indeed, the bike plan itself was built upon the recently adopted regional long range plan. In that plan, 7% of all funds collected will be put towards bicycle & pedestrian plans with a grand total in 2010 dollars of $13.5 million available each year; $7.5 million per year would be used to fund bicycle infrastructure.
So what will this fund exactly? A look at the map and a perusal of the plan text itself shows a large amount of bike lanes for Marion County (Indianapolis), a large amount of side paths for the suburbs, and a large amount of trail projects dispersed around the entire MPO planning area. The planning horizon extends to 2035 and that period is sub-divided into 4 periods in which projects are to be built. Extensions of many existing trails are included in the plan with the extension of the Monon north, the completion of the Pennsey as well as extension of the B&O.
An in depth analysis shows that the trail projects seem to be the ones that account for the largest share of capital expenses. That is a shame since they are the safest and considered the most attractive to potential riders; the report even covers submitted comments. Respondants said one of the biggest hurdles to cycling in the region was the proliferation of roads and interaction with motorists on those roads. That hits at the heart of something we debate often here at Urban Indy in that making streets calmer for cyclists and pedestrians is a key concern to improving street-life. This report brings hard data to support that notion. Something else that strikes me is the disparity between bike lanes in the city and side paths in the suburbs. Indeed, side paths that already exist in the suburbs are cataloged with a large portion of them in Hamilton County. The plan breaks down the cost of side paths vs bike lanes, so it is easy to see why bike lanes are prescribed in most places instead of side paths. Going forward, the amount of bike lanes far surpasses side paths over the planning horizon. It should also be noted that there is no mention of facilities such as the Shelby Street bike track.
Something that makes me wonder is the lack of “special” projects that we have been overly excited about here at the blog. Projects like Georgia Street, the Cultural Trail and such seem to be absent from the plan. Indeed, these projects themselves were special expenditures not likely to be captured in a fiscally responsible and “practical” long range plan that spread money out to create more facilities. Also absent is a pedestrian plan where the other $6 million per year is to be spent. This will likely go towards general upkeep of sidewalks and such if I had to guess. Each project was assigned a score depending on how it served population & employment centers, how it integrates with present transit corridors as well as a multitude of other factors such as proximity to parks, libraries, health institutions, etc.
The plan also lays out policy implications and some dubious ones at that. They are big and could impact the quality of cycling in Indiana. They include first and foremost, the adoption of a cycling master plan. After that, they trickle down into supportive recommendations that include adopting a Complete Streets policy, establishing a bicycling advisory committee, hiring a dedicated staff for cycling programs (something that is now handled at least in Indy, by the DPW), requiring bike parking by new development, REDUCTIONS TO AUTOMOBILE PARKING, and ensuring bike-transit integration.
What the plan does NOT do, is lay out how bike lanes themselves may be constructed from a design perspective. I have personally advocated for larger buffers between automobile travel lanes and bike lanes. There is no mention of this in the report. There is mention of painted crossings which is nice however, there is nothing about painted bike boxes, something else I have spent keystrokes covering.
In that regard, it is good that this is a draft plan and it is now open to the public for comment until September 23rd, 2011. Go check out the report and submit comments so that you can voice any concerns that you may have about the plan.
The past few weeks have been exciting regarding the completion of a short portion of the Cultural Trail along Washington Street in downtown Indianapolis. The reason for the excitement, was the expedited method with which construction was completed at the apparent request of the Conrad hotel. Many local talking heads have discussed the issue here as well as the Skyscraper City Indianapolis Development forum. Some local property managers and owners whom have been affected have even weighed in on the issue which highlights just how touchy people have become about this portion of trail. Not only that, the fashion in which portions of the SE leg into Fountain Square have been delayed have reached the local mass media at WTHR, WISH TV8 & IBJ all last week.
At it’s core, the argument seems to be a large group of people who see the trail as an urban amenity that should be given full right of way to operate how a trail of this nature should; that being pedestrians and cyclists getting full priority on the trail. On the other hand, it appears that the Conrad has brought a big stick to this fight and wants to retain valet parking rights in front of it’s hotel on Washington Street, and on the trail itself. Indeed, last week as the trail was completed directly adjacent to their front door, they began taking full advantage of the opportunity to park on it. You can see in the two pictures that I have posted in this column indicating the valet’s apparent lack of regard for the existing sidewalk itself as well as the vehicles parked in what would be a blocking manner, if the trail were fully open for business.
I have contacted the DPW on this matter, and according to Director of Communications Molly Deuberry,
”Here is the city’s statement/position on the Cultural Trail and the Conrad. The Trail is not open yet and we are working with the Conrad to finalize details on what the operation of the Trail will look like…. cars are permitted in the pavers right now and after a final plan is agreed on, that will dictate how operations proceed after the trail is open.”
It seems all the huffing and puffing going on right now between folks for full cycle and pedestrian rights and the apparent actions being taken by the Conrad are still up for debate. It should be interesting to see how this resolves itself once the Central Corridor is completed. For now, we continue to watch and wait.
An interesting debate has been raging over on the Skyscraper City Indianapolis Development forum for about 4 weeks now. The debate has centered upon the design of the Cultural Trail’s Central Corridor as it passes in front of the Conrad hotel. For the uninformed, the Conrad has been using the sidewalk along Washington Street and in front of it’s hotel for years now as a staging spot for valet parking. It’s common to see a high end automobile sitting on the sidewalk at any point in time.
With the arrival of the Cultural Trail came the notion that perhaps the Conrad would be moving their valet elsewhere. Indeed as trail construction moves forward, their valet has been moved around the corner and onto Illinois Ave. However, it is marked off with red traffic cones indicating to me at least, a temporary respite from the old location.
What does this mean for the future of valet parking? Will the Conrad be permitted to park on the Cultural Trail and in the process setup a potential conflict area with pedestrians and cyclists who wish to use the trail? Will the valet be moved long term onto Illinois? Will the design of the trail be modified to allow both to coexist within the limited amount of street space that exists here? Rumor has it that the Conrad wants to retain the space along Washington Street for valet parking. This notion seems baffling in the context of the trail since it is a “world class” bike & pedestrian urban trail. Why would a hotel, a purveyor of quality temporary dwelling for people, be so bent on maintaining a presence on the sidewalk for automobiles when a potential economic delivery machine is being built, quite literally, at it’s front door?
In the photograph above, you can see what the final design for this space is going to be. According to the information that I was given, the lane closest to the curb will be used for valet drop off and staging leaving the trail itself devoid of potential contact between a cyclist and an upscale automobile’s fender. I have read conflicting information elsewhere stating that there will be perpendicular parking for the Conrad.
Whatever the final decision is on this project, one fatal conclusion can be drawn. Why did the Cultural Trail (or someone else in the ultimate decision making position) pander to the whims of the Conrad, a high end and obviously financially well off business, while much smaller local businesses located along the East End of Mass Ave and Fountain Square have to endure months of seemingly no progress in construction at their front doors? I sought comment from Tom Battista who owns property both along the east end of Mass Ave as well as the Fountain Square leg of the Trail, “We midwest car dependent people are taking away lanes from cars and giving them back to pedestrians. The way Portland moved interstate 5 across the river in the 70′s and gave the riverfront back to the people. It is a pain to deal with closed streets and limited access to our tenants but the long range is what we should focus on. It will be worth it.”
One interesting footnote. Is the Conrad paying for anything here? Are they “renting” the space on the trail for parking? Another member of the blog pointed out that at current parking rates, and given approximately 7 spaces worth of parking space at $1.50 an hour, it could be assumed the parking revenue for these spaces would generate $45k a year. Is the Conrad paying this? Or is the Conrad’s valet parking being subsidized by taxpayers?
The week of June 13th was an exciting one in Indianapolis. The Broad Ripple Parking Garage was announced. CIRTA launched a campaign to build a transit coalition to present to state lawmakers. And the City announced the 16 Tech Technology district that would be anchored by a redeveloped Bush Stadium. On the surface, the 16 Tech proposal looks like a positive one. An underdeveloped neighborhood with a culturally rich past gets a boost from the city while urban thinking residents are appeased by the presence of pedestrian and bike friendly infrastructure.
Indeed, The Technology Trail should be a fantastic addition to what is currently a very dead stretch of road. The addition of a linear park will also be welcome; throw in storm water retention in a quasi-natural method and urbanists have one foot through the door in supporting this. Additionally, a long-time decrepit structure is repurposed with medium (low?) density residential and greenspace to boot. However, upon further examination, I have a few questions that would make THIS urbanist feel better about the proposed development. Melissa Todd with Develop Indy was kind enough to answer some questions for me.
Q:What will happen to IUPUI owned parking lots? How does the city plan on using space that is already used by IUPUI for off-campus parking as well as Herron School of Art facilities?
A:We have worked closely with all levels of IUPUI, IU, & IU Medical School in the development of this plan, and they are very supportive of both the overall concept and the specific elements. The Herron building will undergo a major expansion this fall that will include the IU building immediately to the north. We have worked with the IU in house architect to coordinate this expansion with the Indiana Streetscape work. In the short term the existing IU parking lots will remain
Q:Will IndyGo shelters be “spruced up” and/or covered to fit in with the new design?
A: We anticipate new Indy Go shelters and planned for them along Indiana Avenue in the plan. It is further anticipated that the design of these shelters would be different to fit into the general theme of the project.
Currently, transit only makes a cursory visit to the proposed tech district area. This is likely due to the fact that there is really nothing there now. The 5 bisects the district and offers great service between downtown and the 16 Tech area. Also, the 25 & 10 offer walking distance stops for potential visitors and residents to get to and from the area. However, I was let down when I read Develop Indy’s brochure, and the only mention of public transportation came in the form of the Clarian (now IU Health) People Mover. Those of you who are locals know the laughable status of that service. Why would Develop Indy mention this limited and out of the way service, yet fail to mention IndyGo or local transit at all? Being located to the most dense concentration of employment of jobs in the entire state should merit at least a mention, but nothing. Perhaps a nice shelter for the 5 route at 16th & Montcalm St will match new streetscape? With the addition of 1201 Indiana, and The Avenue, transit boardings are likely to get a boost in this corridor.
Q: Will the Technology Trail ever connect with the Cultural Trail?
A: The two trails were designed to complement one another and it is certainly possible, based on the current design and would be welcomed, but no decision has been made about this.
Q:Helix Park does not get a specific mention in regards to when potential construction could begin. Is there a plan for this or is it included with the streetscape?
A: The plan is for Phase I of Helix park to start construction in 2013, and the City will own the land for this section of Helix park when construction starts. The entire area is currently being rezoned by the City. Tamara Tracy is the principal planner for the City on that effort.
Q: According to google maps overhead view of the focus area, there are currently a glut of industrial uses and/or vacant land. How are the owners of this land going to be compensated?
A: We will work with land owners to acquire additional property as the development progresses. There are no plans to exercise eminent domain.
Q: Is there some sort of master parking plan being developed to handle increased parking demand once developers start building in this location?
A: As the project progresses in the development cycle structured parking will be encouraged and required, which will be covered in the rezoning documents.
Q:Public transit does not receive much of a mention in the Develop Indy literature/brochure. Is there any thinking about how to further promote usage of IndyGo to future residents and business tenants?
A: The plan was centered around the concept of more convenient connections of all types: walking, biking, and mass transit. We contemplated and planned for the possibility that one day IU Health may want to extend the monorail system through Helix Park. We are talking to IPL about electric plug in station in the development.
Q: Is there a plan to relocate the long line of tall utility poles that are located on Indiana Ave? They seem unsightly and if the streetscape is aiming to beautify, I could see them being relocated underground or something like that.
A: The utilities will be buried north of Milburn Ave along Indiana Ave.
As I mentioned before, Helix Park looks to be an innovative and gravitating public space that is currently taken up by an industrial space and a freight railroad spur to the CSX line which also bisects the 16 Tech district. How could the CSX railroad have been utilized to further sell the district? Indyconnect’s long term future paints a line directly through here on the map as a means of running rail transit to the far NW metro area. Perhaps in the future, frequent service could be offered to the 16 Tech district by means of this railroad. But that is getting ambitious.
Taken as a whole, there are still a lot of unanswered questions. In addition, the videos, animations and renderings for this district look nice. However, and as I always seem to gravitate towards, transit never got a mention and I wonder how the dense renderings provided will ever be achieved without a large amount of automobile parking devoted to it by way of a parking garage or surface lot. One can already see that there are nearly 500 parking spaces planned with the Bush Stadium renovation. While I am pleased to see an otherwise underutilized area of downtown get pushed to the forefront, it pains me to see a disconnect between land-use and transit. If Indyconnect’s vision ever comes to fruition, perhaps demand for parking can be lessened in this area and developers of future parcels will recognize this. For the time being, this urbanist isn’t 100% sold. Let me be clear, I WANT 16 Tech to succeed, I just hope that we have learned enough to avoid this….
Earlier this year, Chicago elected a new mayor; Rahm Emanuel. Upon entering office, he wasted no time going to work on his campaign promises of improving mobility for citizens. Among his first visual changes, were the introduction of a new cycle track along a half mile stretch of downtown street; Kinzie Ave from Milwaukee Avenue to Wells Street.
Upon being in office for only a few short weeks, Emanuel has demonstrated his firm commitment to transportation alternatives.
When you look at what “IT” actually was, bike lanes were striped to create a reasonable barrier between motorists and cyclists, soft bollards were installed, driveway and street crossings were painted a recognizable shade of green and in a short couple weeks worth of work, a fantastic new public space for cyclists-only was created.
What’s more, the symbolic nature of this new, and for Chicago radical bike infrastructure, underscored the take-no-crap approach that our big city mayors should be taking when it comes to tackling innovative transportation issues.
What does this have to do with Indianapolis? Locally, there is a project similar in nature that is taking shape on Shelby Ave on the city’s southside. This bike track, the first of its kind in Indy, will connect the Fountain Square terminus of the Cultural Trail with Garfield Park via the Pleasant Run Trail and by doing so, create a more connected bike trail system. Taken together, this will represent many miles of dedicated, separate, biking facility for cyclists with which to travel. The track on Shelby is now under construction however, it produced significant push-back from the residents of the Fountain Square neighborhood during early public meetings; most notably in the form of residents complaining about the loss of automobile parking.
I inquired to Molly Deuberry at DPW and she sent me pages of data on the project. In looking at the plans for the lanes (click to open .pdf), innovative practices are evident. 2 way (or Contra-flow) bicycle right of way, 12 foot wide right of way (for both lanes) in some places (normally 10 feet), as well as what appears to be a glut of unique wayfinding signage to indicate the Cultural Trail as well as the Pleasant Run Trail, are just some of the new features Indianapolis cyclists will be subjected to once this project is completed by November; the lanes themselves may be open sooner.
The Rebuild Indyproject has repaved a lot of downtown’s streets over the past year. Notably absent in restriping efforts have been bike lanes on Michigan and New York. Furthermore, a huge opportunity to place painted bike boxes that give cyclists priority and also make the street safer for them could be implemented at key intersections such as New York & West Street or Michigan & West Street. The Shelby Ave bike track shows that the city is willing to design & build innovative bicycling infrastructure, so it makes me wonder, will the city take the Rebuild Indy opportunity to do that in other places like Michigan & New York? Only time will tell.
In conclusion, I think while Indianapolis is taking great strides to improve cycling facilities for residents, there are places that could be greatly improved for very little amounts of money and political capital. The Cultural Trail is arguably one of the most innovative cycling projects in the country and Mayor Ballard’s commitment to adding bike lanes is admirable. However, where are the bike boxes? Why aren’t we seeing more bollard separated lanes? There are places where some of these improvements could be cheap to do and would create a much safer area for local cyclists, and by extension, drive more wide spread usage. As I started the post with, Chicago’s new mayor has already taken great strides in a short amount of time. Will Indy be playing catch up to Chicago in terms of innovative cycling infrastructure?
Editor’s note: HUGE thanks to Steven Vance for usage of Chicago’s bike-track images. Steven writes his own blog Steven Can Plan as well as Grid Chicago. Both of these are worth the time spent, so check them out. A complete analysis of the Kinzie Ave project including partial financials as well as more photos can be seen on Grid.
The Cultural Trail is moving full speed ahead in the Fountain Sqaure area. I had a rare opportunity to witness some daytime infrastructure work in the city yesterday and snapped some pictures. If the pace of progress in this area is any indication of how quickly it will be finished, shop owners should not have anywhere near the level of headache that businesses on the East End of Mass Ave had when the trail was being constructed there over the past two years. I will dispense with the words, and leave you with some photos. One final thought, it was sad to see the old streetcar tracks being exposed by this demolition work. It is a shame that there isn’t a project actively moving forward that would restore these to Indianapolis’ streets.
In 2010, Mayor Greg Ballard used bonding capacity against equity in our water/sewer utilities as well as future rate increases to fund a program that is called, Rebuild Indy. The first injection of funds came in to the tune of $55 million. It was used to jumpstart the program and largely includes resurfacing streets, repairing some sidewalks, and constructing a trail on the NW side of Indianapolis by adding a trail from Cold Springs Road to Kessler Boulevard along Michigan Road. A couple of weeks ago, $32 million more in projects were announced. Some bridge reconstruction work is planned for Meridian Street across Fall Creek as well as the Morris Street bridge over the White River on the city’s south side.
Much more work is said to be planned when and if the “sale” of the sewer/water utilities to Citizens energy is approved through the IURC who is currently deliberating on the matter. The announced sum that the city would have to spend on infrastructure (including what has been spent already) would be $425 million.
I have inquired repeatedly to the Mayor’s office about what the rest of the projects would entail and even received some off the record information regarding some specific projects. However, there doesn’t seem to be a clear intent to release all the planned on projects that Rebuild Indy plans on tackling. I’m sure there is political headache at risk for such a move.
However, and what should concern most of us living within Indianapolis urban neighborhoods, is what are planners REALLY going to do with this money to preserve and improve the quality of life for residents? The Mayor’s recent State of the City address pointed out the need to focus on our inner city neighborhoods. The census recently opened our eyes that suburban flight continues unabated in the Indianapolis area except where we have created pedestrian friendly environments. Urban Indy author Greg Meckstroth recently tackled this issue. Although there have been a few projects of noteworthy pedestrian mention such as the Michigan Road trail, the first round of Rebuild Indy projects have largely focused on simply repaving our existing roads, and restriping them in the same fashion despite repeated attempts by not only myself, but those of IndyCOG to improve our bike lane designations downtown. Furthermore, a project in my own neighborhood this summer had a Rebuild Indy sign posted and when the sidewalks were repaired, it could be debated whether or not they were repaired at all. The project aims to add bike lanes however, once the weather warms which will be a welcome addition.
Personally, it concerns me that the status quo of road design is not being examined in the least and we are borrowing money from tomorrow, to simply repair areas that in 5-10 years from now, will suffer similar breakdowns. With Complete Streets type of projects taking place in our city (Meridian/Westfield & 10th Street SB Legacy) and world class projects such as the Cultural Trail in progress, the bar has been raised. As residents, how can we not demand more for our invested dollar?
Perhaps I will be proven wrong and there is a vast plan of adding NEW sidewalks through neighborhoods that don’t currently have any. Perhaps there is another Georgia Street project lurking in the weeds that hasn’t been announced yet. Perhaps our side streets where cars speed through can be calmed so that the city has a fighting chance of attracting families with children to live in the neighborhoods that they lie within. If so, I will drop my criticism and get on board. As it stands though, I fear we are on board to spend a lot of money on projects that have an opportunity to tremendously improve the quality of life for Indianapolis’ residents, but which fail to do so.
If you have some how missed what is going on in downtown Indianapolis, let me inform you. The Cultural Trail is growing! The Cultural Trail is a bicycle and pedestrian trail weaved through the streets of downtown Indianapolis connecting all of the different cultural districts. Each leg of the trail contains unique artwork and it's own flair.
If you are a regular reader here, you no doubt have sensed my appreciation (and some minor criticism) for this new amenetie. In the realm of transportation improvements, it doesn't have a direct comparison. It is not a downtown circulator like a bus or streetcar, and it is not a TIF sucking project either. However, it does share some attributes with it's transportation brothers in that a couple of projects have been planned along the trail much like T.O.D. would be planted around a streetcar or light rail station. The Trailside is planned for the east end of Mass Ave and like the namesake, will be located directly adjacent to the trail. Also, the Riley Development Corporation, a local cdc, has announced plans to expand one of it's 30 story towers to add more residential units in the form of a 5 story addition to the south tower. This too, lies directly on the trail. Most recently, the city market downtown announced that it will be demolishing one of the wings on the property to consolidate the tennants, and will be adding a bike locker and shower facility. This too, is located across the street from the Cultural Trail.
As the construction finishes up over the next coupld years, it should be interesting to see what other type's of developments are spurred because of this.
I thought I would take this post to point out the anatomy of the bio retention units along the trail. Much has been made of this innovative feature of the trail. Basically, there are periodic areas of the trail, where they break out what would be a traditional grass median, and replace it with a storm water collector. This collector funnels storm water into a bed of vegetation that cleanses any pollutants out of the water, and allows the clean water to permeate the soil, cleaner than it normally would under traditional storm water handling.
I have attached a couple of photos, and also an engineering diagram depicting what a typical section of this rain gardens consists of. Thanks to Gail Payne of the Cultural Trail for providing said engineering data.