If you follow this website, you undoubtedly are familiar with the term “complete streets”. Complete streets is a term that refers to a total consideration of the transportation cross section when planning a new infrastructure related project. Put more eloquently, “Complete streets are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities must be able to safely move along and across a complete street.” For more information on this topic, visit www.completestreets.org.
It is with this concept, that we bring the next post to you. The Harmoni neighborhood group, located in Midtown Indianapolis, has been working behind the scenes to improve Indianapolis’ neighborhoods using the complete streets approach. As you can imagine, this type of work costs money. They have worked hard to secure local funding to be able to provide as a match for federal funding, to start up some of these projects.
The newest project, is centered around the intersection of Meridian Street and Westfield Blvd. Meridian is a very busy north/south commuter artery during the morning and afternoon and as such, cars normally move at excessive and dangerous, speeds. The Harmoni group has for a couple years now, been lobbying for a solution to trouble presented by the presence of rapidly moving automobiles.
Enter, the Indianapolis MPO. If you are not familiar, an MPO (metropolitan planning organization) is a federally mandated body that oversees the dispersal of federally awarded transportation funds for an urbanized area of 50,000 citizens or more. Our’s is located in the city-county building in downtown Indianapolis. Their “sphere of influence” if you will, covers over 1.2 million regional citizens in Marion County and the donut counties surrounding. They conduct a lot of studies and oversee everything transportation related in our region. If a road is modified, if a bridge is changed, if a sidewalk is to be revitalized, they manage every penny that flows through their governing region. They also provide a great service in the form of studies of all manner. Road engineering studies. Rail studies. Bike planning. Multi-modal planning. etc…. It is that last one, Multimodal planning, in which the topics of this post are concerned with.
The MPO has been conducting a series of multimodal planning studies for the benefit of the region. They are open to the public, should you wish to attend. If you cannot, then they post all of the studies online. This year’s series focused a lot on complete streets and how better to incorporate the theories into our region’s designs. The studies can be found on the MPO’s website here. It is the last document on that page that is of particular important. It list’s two projects in the Indianapolis region applying complete streets theories. One is located along the East 10th street corridor, and the other is focused on the region of Meridian street mentioned above. Later I plan on doing a post on the 10th street project which is already under construction.
Construction should start in 2011 on the Meridian Street project, and once finished should provide a much more pedestrian friendly intersection for trail users and midtown Indy residents. For more information regarding the Meridian St project, click here for a 36 page .pdf. A less “wordy” handout can be seen here as well.
Back in July, we brought you a story about new bike lanes and associated improvements on 52nd street in Midtown Indianapolis.
Recently, more action was taken towards finishing this project. For the last month and a half it has had a single layer of pavement over the prior removed roadbed. Crews moved in and started reconstructing the old and broken sidewalks. Normally, I would call this a cause for celebration but in this case, I am not so sure.
If we backtrack just a bit to the last post I made on this topic, I reported that Indy Hostel had started an online petition to urge the city to do something about the utility poles that line the south side of the street, and also which lie directly on the sidewalk.
Apparently, that has fallen on deaf ears, or been completely disregarded. I can only think that this happened because of the great expense of utility relocation. I will not say much more on this and instead let the photos do the talking as they do a good enough job of illustrating what is going on here. One last comment that I would make is this. If the Department of Public Works goes out of it’s way to install rumble strips at each cross walk, an ADA compliance design, they why too are they not required to remove poles that lie directly in the middle of a sidewalk? Are they not dangerous to disabled pedestrians; Or for non-disabled to simply have to navigate around them? Is there some sort of law that has some fine print which allows them to circumvent the relocation of these?
Consider this the first post in what I hope to be an ongoing series. Occasionally I am going to try to highlight areas of town where someone has created a little “place” that citizens, patrons or whomever can be proud of. Maybe that place will not transcend all demographics, but to a certain cross section, may be a pretty special looking place that makes them smile each time they go by.
Today, I want to shine the light on the Upland Tasting Room located at 49th & College Ave in midtown Indianapolis. This newly opened place is a breath of fresh air when compared to the normal bar scene that proliferates the area just north of here. I have been in twice now and it is a very calm, almost lounge like atmosphere. Since I live in this neighborhood, I get to pass by often, and what keeps me smiling about the Upland Tasting room, I mean besides $8 growler refills of Dragonfly IPA, is the custom bike rack that takes residence out front of the store on the sidewalk. It is a 100% custom made bike storage rack that is created from… older bikes. I had to make a few phone calls but the story I got was one that also made me smile.
It was constructed in Bloomington, IN by a welder who works for Upland and helps create various parts that the brewery may need from time to time. According to Bre at Upland, the idea for the bike racks was spawned by their president. He tasked them with locating parts for a rack made from other bikes.
As luck would have it, Bloomington is also home to the Bloomington Bike Project, a non-profit volunteer ran shop. They were able to come up with the parts that they needed free of charge. I spent a few moments poking around their website and they have some really nice programs based around volunteer work where you can earn a bike for 3 hours worth of donated time. The theme obviously surrounds a re-use type of intent and Upland has certainley done that! There is second rack that calls Bloomington home.
With this simple structure, Upland has created a unique looking face for the store that at least for me, makes me smile every time that I go by it. I can only think that it is working. I see bikes tied up to it often, and every time I go by and the place is open, there are people inside. I hope business is doing well for Upland here in Indianapolis.
Hoosier Beer Geek has a good write up about the services to be found inside, as well as hours and some pictures of the interior.
Years ago, a construction project brought some of the first bike lanes to Indianapolis on 52nd street in midtown Indianapolis. The reconstruction stretched from Keystone Ave on its eastern-most point and ended at the Monon Trail on the west end. With this reconstruction came the addition of a bike lane in both the eastbound and westbound shoulder, abutting the sidewalk. The project failed to address points west of the Monon, and what resulted was a divide in the landscape with the west side appearing as a bombed out and depleted looking stretch of street from the Monon to College Ave.
This summer, budgets finally opened up enough to continue what was started east of the Monon on 52nd street. The reconstruction of 52nd street from the Monon to College Ave and the continuation of the bike lanes all the way to College Ave. The realization of this accomplishment may not have came to fruition however. In early July 2010, road demolition crews made their way to 52nd street and started to eat up the pavement. Details on-site indicated the obvious road reconstruction coming, but neglected to address bike lanes; something that has been added to the Indianapolis Bike Plan for the next 2-5 years.
A viral campaign was mounted by Indy Hostel shortly thereafter that started out as a simple inquiry to anyone who would listen including local neighborhood associations. It quickly grew to an online petition and reached the ears of the IndyCog who, through their connections to the Indianapolis DPW’s Andy Lutz, insured that the bike lane extensions to College Avenue will in fact be laid.
What this displayed was a community’s desire for the right thing to happen instead of mindless road paving as has been the history of Indianapolis. The petition was started mostly regarding the absence of bike lanes, but it also addresses the awful looking sidewalks and the utility poles that randomly jut out of the sidewalk. In the long term, it would be nice to see the utilities relocated. To be sure, this an amazingly expensive task and while the outcome is a nice looking street with safer sidewalks, it is not likely to happen in cash-strapped Indy anytime soon.
We will continue to keep you posted as the final layers of pavement are laid, and striping begins later this summer.