Cultural Trail parking in front of the Conrad

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.

Escalade on Sidewalk (image credit: Kevin Kastner)
Escalade on Sidewalk (image credit: Kevin Kastner)

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.

Conrad Valet (image credit: reader submission)
Conrad Valet (image credit: reader submission)

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.

Comments 19

  • “For now, we continue to watch and wait.” Why are we just watching and waiting?! There should be a call to action! Who can we voice our collective opinions to? If we, the pedestrians, simply watch and wait, the wealthy landowners of the Conrad will get what they want, as they always do. You can bet they aren’t just watching and waiting! This is something I have always hoped of this blog–that there would be more activism. It’s nice to know what is going on in the city, but let’s try to build a mechanism for advocacy, not just watching….and waiting.

    • I cannot speak for all the members of Urban Indy, but I can say this much. We are all volunteers who all have real jobs that may or may not be related to what we write about at the blog. For my part, I am as active as I can be. We regularly have dinner meetings, coffe breaks, a beer or two with people are more connected in what is going on with the city than we are. I would call that a form of activism that stops short of organizing a crowd of people to show up somewhere. We all do this because we care about seeing Indy become better, but there are limits when it means spending time with your family, or earning a pay check.

  • I hope they realize that whatever decision is reached, I and many others I’m sure, will be riding or walking directly through this portion at anytime. I will not get off my bike to walk it by the elite nor will I take extreme care to protect their cars in my way. This was Indy unique. This was our chance to change habit one person at a time. Now we must face business as usual. It would be in their best interest to remove cars from the path.

  • Curt, have you ever tried to talk to anyone on the site? All these pictures seems to be taken when the contractor is not around so that tells me a lot of this is speculation other than the hard quote from the director of communications for DPW.

    • No, I work during the day and I do not work downtown. So that is a non-starter for me. I don’t know how else you would interpret the situation from someone else. DPW is pretty high up the food chain when it comes to this. I mean, you might be able to get someone from the Cultural Trail to weigh in, but thus far I have not received anything committal from them… and I have spoke with them on this matter.

  • Regardless of how fast or slow or who gets theirs done first, like the georgia street project ,the culture trail will end up when completed another great project for indy, and its downtown.

  • So what happens when a cyclist plows into one of those escalades? Who does the liability fall upon. Since the cars are parked on a bike/pedestrian trail, would they be considered to be illegally parked? Or are they going to try and blame a cyclist for not getting off his/her bike and walking around?

  • The Conrad has a post about the trail on their Facebook page. I commented with the following, “What is the arrangement with the City regarding cars being parked in the middle of the trail? I would assume the trail would be an amenity the Conrad would support and promote, rather than interfere with, correct?”

  • Following is the response I received from the Conrad…

    “Absolutely correct. We have been working closely with the City as well as the folks at The Indianapolis Cultural Trail to determine what system will benefit all parties – pedestrians, bikes and drivers – when the trail has reached completion on Washington Street.”

  • Hmm. They seem to have realized they might have a PR problem.

  • Not sure if DPW is just trying to say something other than “Meh. We’re just letting the Conrad do whatever they want.” But if people are serious about doing some advocacy, one of the easiest things you could do is submit your comments here:

    From my experience, comments submitted here do get a response from someone in the Mayor’s Office. If they get concerns expressed by enough people, perhaps they’ll see that just letting the Conrad have free reign over the “trail” is a terrible idea that will upset a lot of constituents/voters.

    Granted it was probably over a year ago, but when I talked to the Trail designers at a public meeting, they told me that they were given specific instructions to do nothing to interfere with the status quo operations of the Conrad.

  • If i were rideing during construction i would ride across the street from it or take another quick route to get to my location until the construction is completed there its just useing common sense but keep in mind we must all look out for eachother out there, the cyclist the driver parking there vehicle and the walker etc. while construction and the inconveniance of it is in progress iam sure the conrad guys want this job completed as bad as a cyclist does iam sure they and there clinants snub at the ugly mess infront of their beautiful highend property.

  • Might want to keep an eye on this. Ugly things set to happen….

  • It’s three years later and the Conrad is still parking cars on the Cultural Trail. This is not all that surprising given how decisions are made in Indy. Here’s what it looks like:

  • Simply a smiling visitant here to share the love (:, btw outstanding style and design .

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