Lockerbie Proposal Hints at 2-way College Avenue

The IBJ’s Property Lines has posted an article about a new mixed-use proposal located on the northwest corner of College and Michigan in the Lockerbie Square neighborhood.  The project is large enough on its own: 190 market-rate apartments, 44,000 sq feet of retail and office space, reopening Cincinnati Street, located on 3/4 of a city block.  Even more intriguingly, in the comments of the article, reporter Cory Schouten mentions that the developers are looking toward the prospect of converting College Avenue to a two-way street from Massachusetts Avenue to Market Street.  I made a speculative post about the prospect of a two-way College Avenue, and this is a good time to revisit that possibility.

I’m usually on the side of better connectivity, so of course this is something I can support.  It’s interesting to note that the Whitsett Group stops at Market Street, as just to the south of Market is the location of the railroad bridge/monstrosity:

I have to imagine that bridge is the reason the developers are stopping the conversion at Market Street.  But, let’s not forget the other issue that is to the north of the bridge:

This narrow opening between buildings is roughly 53 feet wide.  I believe that a 2-way street can be pulled off through this section of Lockerbie, but the developers need to be mindful of this.  They might have more success with converting College to the north of Michigan, which has less such tight spaces, and would still be a win for site connectivity.  Regardless of this exciting prospect, a major project like this is proof that downtown Indianapolis is still a place worthy of investment.

Comments 51

  • Being a Fletcher Placer, I would love for College to be two way all the way to Virginia. Since it is pretty much 3 lanes the whole way and isn’t THAT heavily trafficked (it isn’t an Ohio St by any means), I would like to see one lane in each direction and a bollard-lined bike track like down on Shelby. I would be more likely to head up to Mass Ave in that case and I think Mass Ave residents would frequent Fountain Square more often that way too.
    The cultural trail over on Alabama is nice, but going from somewhere like Yogulatte to Fountain Square involves some major backtracking and jaunting over on Walnut and North St.
    Altogether, that would make a continuous bike (and pedestrian?) friendly route from Carmel to Greenwood, once the bike lanes are continued down to County Line by the Greenwood Park Mall.

    • Actually, the traffic counts for the blocks of College in question (Market to Mass Ave.) are close to the volumes on Ohio. College ranges from 10-12,000; Ohio is 12-13,000 between East and I-65/70. You’re right: the blocks south of South/Fletcher are the lowest-traffic segment and could easily be converted to two-way. Next-lowest is the stretch from South to Washington, still only 6,000 or so car per day. With East Street two ways in that stretch, I agree there’s no reason for College to remain one-way south of Washington.

      • Thanks Chris.
        Any idea what the time distribution of those cars is? I know Ohio from downtown to East and 65/70 is very crowded during evening rush hour, but I haven’t seen that kind of traffic on College (or perhaps I just didn’t pay as much attention). I was wondering if maybe the College traffic was more evenly distributed throughout the day vs being packed at rush hour.

  • I too, love the idea of a 2 way College Ave. Some will say that College needs to be one way to compliment peak travel and that it will force cars onto other streets. This may be true, but I will say that this does not bother me one bit. When we stop considering automobile traffic mitigation as the primary role of roadway design and begin designing them for ALL modes we will be on the right track. If this means making it difficult for drivers so be it. I say this being a citizen who’s primary mode of transportation in this city is via car. Property owners, businesses and overall access to plots of land and by extension, a safer pedestrian experience will be better off because of a 2 way College Ave.

  • If they could put in a more open span for the rail overpass at Washington St, it would be great to have 2-way traffic down to there.

  • Kevin, the real obstacle is the curb to curb width of College where the Cultural Trail runs alongside it. (The city website doesn’t play well with Windows 7 and IE so I can’t get the measure function to work in feet.) I drive through there every day, and estimate the pavement width at 31-32 feet: the left-hand lane is 9-10 feet and the other two are 10-11 feet.
    Keep in mind: we’re talking about the ONLY northbound arterial northbound that runs from Washington all the way up to 10th and 16th anywhere between Delaware and Rural, and it carries 10-12,000 cars per day. There are two southbound choices already (Central/East and Alabama) and they carry lower volumes. Two lanes northbound, with left-turn boxes, are just as necessary for this stretch of College as further north.
    Curt, this stretch of College is multimodal already, and the Lockerbie area generally is very pedestrian-friendly. It will be easy for residents to get to this new development; the Trail and sidewalks are two-way already.
    You’re actually talking about making this stretch more CAR-friendly to serve the proposed retail in the new development, and it’s not necessary. Southbound access is already available: East or Alabama to North, then east to Cincinnati and south into the development. Or, off the I-65 ramp, west onto North, and across College to Cincinnati.

    • We’re talking about making it more car, bike, and bus friendly, and hopefully more pedestrian friendly to boot. Simple as that. Add a frequent College Avenue bus service to the area, and maybe the street wouldn’t need to carry that many cars. I know I’m talking fantasy-land here with the slash-and-burn crowd in charge in Congress and the State House, but I digress.

      • Kevin, bottlenecked lines of traffic are NOT bus-friendly, nor people-friendly, nor bike friendly, especially to those breathing concentrated exhaust fumes while waiting their turn at the light.
        This doesn’t have anything to do with Congress or the State House, and the issue isn’t political. It’s practical and pragmatic.
        During Trail construction, there were bottlenecks and backups at that site when the right-hand lane was still “right turn only” and all traffic funneled down to one lane northbound. When DPW removed that restriction at the request of the Cultural Trail staff and reconfigured to allow two lanes through, it was safer for everyone.

        • A few things here:

          -My barb at politics was directed about the funding for transit and nothing more.

          -Please know that this blog will continue push for greater diversification of transportation options for the city. The one-way network is great for moving cars and traffic, for sure. But it is not great for building memorable neighborhood streets.

          -Maybe we should go with your engineering compromise and take a lane from the parking lots east of the Beilouny building. I can see going for that.

          -I’m guessing there was an outcry back in the 70’s when the city converted the circle from asphalt back to brick and slowed down vehicles. Now it is a great public space. We should be looking to create more of them, and in order to do that we first have to tame our vehicle conduits. It might be painful at first, but I believe it will be beneficial in the long run.

    • Chris, I dont understand your point of view. Making it two way does make it more accessible but I argue that the safety of the street would increase 10 fold compared to what it is now. Id rather have more cars, that move slow and have them controlled thereby making it a much more safe experience for pedestrians vs a 3 lane mini-highway.
      I feel like you understand what needs to happen to grow the pedestrian experience but are unwilling to take the steps required to do it. You cannot argue with me that converting this to a two way street would make for a safer pedestrian experience.

      • I’m not really sure where you’re going with the “pedestrian experience” comment or how it has anything to do with changing College to two-way traffic.
        Contrary to urbanist wisdom, the pedestrian experience along a busy one-way street is going to be safer than along a busy two way: turns into curb cuts, alleys and side streets can only come from one direction so there’s less to watch for. Plus crossing a one-way without benefit of a signal is much easier. If you don’t believe that last sentence, try this: walk from George Kessler Park at 25th and Meridian to Barton Park at Capitol & FCP S. Dr. and tell me which of the three arterial crossings is hardest and least safe. I’ll spoil the fun: It’s Meridian, the two-way street.
        I definitely don’t understand your point of view; I don’t think “pedestrian experience” enters into this particular discussion at all. You’re not really solving any existing pedestrian problem by making College two-way at this site. Parking is allowed on both sides of College between Michigan and North, and so pedestrians have that additional layer of comfort. There’s a bike lane on Michigan, so there’s some separation between vehicles and pedestrians there.
        All you’re really talking about is accommodating some southbound drivers at a relatively high cost to northbound drivers on College, and I’m saying the tradeoff isn’t worth it because the southbound motorist has alternatives and the northbound one doesn’t. I’m not in favor of making traffic system changes like this in isolation, and in this particular case, it would unnecessarily create a problem for a significant number of people who rely on that route. It will not help Center Township revitalization or Center Township residents if we choke necessary arterials and turn them into congested neighborhood streets.
        The “engineering solution” to this problem is to de-bottleneck by stealing 10 feet or so from the parking lots on the east side of College south of St. Clair, and to move/rebuild the trail landing at the SE corner of College & St. Clair. That would make two-way traffic on College doable, especially given the pavement alignment shift on College north of there.

        • I consider the pedestrian experience as one that doesnt have to put up with the worry about cars zooming past when I have my toddler son in tow. Cars that are doing 50mph create a lot more road noise vs ones that are doing 25 or 30. Excessive road noise really kills the pedestrian experience. I think its for the same reasons that I never understood why campgrounds located next to freeways…
          And maybe the people of lockerbie DO have a good experience. If I lived there though, I can tell you Id spend a LOT more time walking on the interior streets vs College Ave. Ive spent a lot of time driving up College and RARELY do I see a glut of people walking. It isnt for lack of business along there either, I simply feel that College in this area compares to Keystone. 3 lanes, wide, and with traffic lights timed to allow people to go fast through there. And given the option of quiet streets in the neighborhood, 90 times out of 10 I’d also pick those too.
          Maybe that describes my pedestrian experience to you. Activating the street to make it more welcome for people should really be something that you, as a business owner, would understand. Perhaps you have simply lived in Indy for too long Chris and see the town through the car lens that most business owners do. Just try thinking about it that way for a minute and give it some thought before you poke 80 holes in it. Ive given your thoughts consideration and given credit where do. You seem unwilling to budge AT ALL on your point of view. As I said in my last reply, doing the hard work of pushing people to get out of their cars means making hard decisions like this that get people to consider other ways. Some might call that social engineering, but Im damn tired of being socially engineered into submitting to a car on the vast majority of ROW in this city. It has to start somewhere, why not here?

          • This isn’t a philosophical debate about increasing alternative transportation mode usage. Nor is it personal. It’s a very specific debate about converting a very specific stretch of a single street from one-way to two-way for cars with no other change to the pedestrian, bike, or bus systems. And in this specific case, I believe I’ve taken a realistic look at the “ground truth” and demonstrated specific costs that outweigh potential or imagined benefits…to which you and others have replied with generalities. I believe the proposed change benefits some drivers at too high a cost to others, with no benefit to bikers or pedestrians or transit riders.
            I’m trying to limit the debate to specifics, and you keep implying that I have some car-favoring agenda and an aversion to bikes, walking, sidewalks, or what have you. I don’t. I live and work in Center Township. I work and volunteer in neighborhood economic development. I probably drive less and walk more than most people in Indianapolis, and make a conscious effort to do both. I support pedestrian-friendly redevelopment plans and write letters of support and testify at zoning hearings in favor of variances for reduced parking requirements. I work actively for expansion of the trail system and pedestrian-friendly sidewalks. All that speaks to attitude and intention.
            I don’t think you change people’s minds by forcing them to do anything. I think you change people’s minds by presenting a good argument for an alternative. Again: in this specific case, I just don’t see actual or prospective benefits that outweigh the obvious costs.

          • Chris, you indicate that a two-way College would provide no benefit to bikers. What about the convenience of being able to ride a bike southbound on College? Bikes are to be rode in the street, but you can’t really do that against one-way traffic. And the sidewalks here certainly aren’t wide enough to safely allow bikers to ride past pedestrians.

  • I agree with some of what Chris says about crossing one-way streets as a pedestrian, but I think Chris fails to consider the vehicle speed differential that is typical between a one-way or two-way configuration, all other street design factors being equal, and the impact of the higher traffic speeds on “quality of life” and the “pedestrian experience” in the area. A two-way College with fairly narrow lanes would have considerably slower travel speeds (without necessarily significantly increasing congestion and travel time) than the current one-way College does, and I believe that makes a big difference.

    Of course, a significant decrease in travel speeds for most drivers could be effectuated by re-timing of the traffic signals along College to time the lights for a travel speed of say 27 MPH, instead of the 40MPH or so, for which the lights are currently set. This is ridiculous and is common on Indy’s one-way streets, including New York, Central, etc.

    • I make a distinction between traffic calming and traffic choking. Reducing average speed does not require introduction of bottlenecks that choke traffic, and I agree that it’s generally good in many places. All it requires is slightly narrower lanes and lights timed slower. Traffic still flows instead of backing up, even at lower speed.
      For example, adding the bike lanes on New York and Michigan and parking on both sides through most of the near east side has slowed average traffic speed there. I suspect that light timing may also have been altered. (I know because I am a daily commuter on those streets.) I find that to be a “happy medium”. Lots of people walk and bike along both streets.
      Reducing both New York and Michigan to one lane each direction would fall into my category of “traffic choking”. It would burn more fuel, create more localized emissions, cause more delays and aggravation, and degrade the quality of life for people who have no choice but to use those streets to get to and from home by car, by bus, or on foot. A line of idling cars, trucks, and buses stuck in traffic is NOT a contributor to positive quality of life in any neighborhood, to residents, pedestrians, or bicyclists.

  • As someone who also uses New York & Michigan frequently, I can attest that the traffic signals have not been adjusted for slower travel speeds and while vehicle speeds have probably decreased slightly, the average speed is probably still 40+ in many areas, in large part because the lanes remain too wide (12-13′) in most areas because the City decided to make the bike lane and parking lanes a uniform 5′ and 7′ respectively and then just give everything that was leftover to the travel lanes. I suggested that they reduce the travel lanes to 10′, but they they indicated that they were worried that wider parking lanes would result in people driving in them if cars weren’t parked there.

    I don’t for a second believe that converting New York & Michigan to two-way would have any significant negative impact on anyone. Washington street basically flows freely all day long, which means it has excess capacity. Nobody is forced to use New York or Michigan. I would bet that 90% of the people who live on or near New York or Michigan would sacrifice a few seconds of travel time in exchange for the convenience (accessibility) and quality of life (calmed traffic) benefits that a well-designed two-way conversion would bring.

    And, when the Pogues Run sewer project was going on, both New York and Michigan were reduced to one lane (remember that’s one lane in one direction, while a conversion of both streets to two-way would maintain a minimum of two lanes in each direction) for months without any significant traffic delays on these streets or on the alternate routes of 10th or Washington.

  • Well, we all know where each other stands no regarding the conversaion of one way streets to 2 way streets. I firmly believe that the conversion, in conjunction with any transit improvements that result from the upcoming Indyconnect plan, would drive more people to buses, bikes or hopefully trains.

    • Curt, now you’ve pissed me off because you are mis-stating my clear words, and adding things I didn’t write: I never wrote that we shouldn’t convert any one-ways to two way operation.
      I said that choking College at Massachusetts would have higher costs than benefits, and that if a conversion is done, it should be done in a way that maintains two lanes northbound. I also said on this thread that College south of Washington should be converted. In the past I’ve advocated for a two-way Central north of 16th, maybe even 10th. I’m pretty sure that Alabama and New Jersey could be converted to two-way north of Washington also.
      As an aside I also believe the aggregate real costs (time loss and pollution increase) of converting Michigan and New York would be higher than any benefits, especially the effect on the high-ridership #3 busline. And real BRT on the east side (dedicated lane) would be more feasible on the Mich/NY pair as configured now (far more feasible than on Washington) but not if configured as one lane each way. Or, if Washington gets dedicated busways, we’ll still need the free-flowing Michigan/NY pair.
      Don’t overlook environmental costs. Adding just one extra minute to the seven or eight minutes it takes to drive between Emerson and the CSX tracks adds 12-14% to all the vehicle emissions in the neighborhood. That’s a lot, and not good for anyone. Choking and bottlenecking further localizes pollution concentrations, and increases the stops and starts even more, further reducing gas mileage and increasing emissions. In progressive terms, that’s “environmental injustice”, imposing disproportionate environmental impacts on poorer people less able to move away.
      Finally, even if a miracle happens with IndyConnect and Indianapolis approaches Chicago levels of transit service and ridership in our lifetime, that only takes maybe 10% of the cars off the street here. You may not like it, but that’s the delta. We’re not going to turn into DC, and 10% isn’t enough to knock arterials down one level of service…especially if we manage to re-populate Center Township. Sure, those roads look empty with only 110,000 people in Center. But if we get back up to 1950’s levels (200,000+), we’ll need some of those lanes for buses and cars that don’t get stuck in traffic.
      In short, I oppose dogmatic, simplistic and universal solutions like “change ALL the one-ways back to two-way”. I don’t oppose pragmatically and carefully changing some one-ways to two-way based on measurement, observation, data.

      • It’s good to see you getting emotional over the issue Chris. That means that you are involved and really care about the conversation.
        As far as your claims about slowing traffic down and adding pollution, I cannot refute that. When you add more stops & starts it will create more waste. I wonder if the compromise of converting to two way and the accompanying amount of “pass through” traffic that it COULD cut down, would offset any changes that more stop and go would bring with it.
        I was never aiming to piss you off. But you haven’t been a very good debater from your side. We have given credit to your notions but you have never once admitted that you in any way agree that a 2 way conversion would bring any benefits. Even when you said it was possible, you mentioned knocking out the parking lot and retaining the amount of possible roadway for cars. This is a notion that I do not agree with so I WILL debate you on that account.

        • We’ll just have to go get a beer and hash it out. 🙂 A good place for a debate about one-way streets would be Flat 12…right there on Dorman between NY and Michigan.

  • Chris, upon what info do you make your assumption that increasing travel time one minute between Emerson and the CSX tracks will lead to a 12-14% increase in vehicle emissions?

    Here’s an interesting piece related to traffic calming and emissions, specifically the last section with the heading “Traffic Calming”:

    • LOCALIZED vehicle emissions, i.e. in the defined area.
      Here’s the logic and math. It now takes about 7-8 minutes to drive that stretch at 33-35mph, 25-30 in the school zones. Typically a driver must stop only once, to get in synch with the lights.
      Adding just one minute of run-time means another minute of vehicle emissions, or a 12.5-14.3% increase. If a number of stop-start cycles are introduced, the average speed and fuel efficiency both go down, and the emissions go up even more.

  • I’m not involved in urban planning as many of you guys are … just a 20-year downtown resident who cares about the urban core. As someone who used to live in Lockerbie, there was/is little reason to walk on College. There’s nowhere there that a resident is like to be heading to or coming from except in a few cases, so most of the pedestrian life is already centered on the inner streets.

    As a pedestrian now in Cottage Home, I agree with Chris that I feel safe on a one-way street because my attention has to only manage one direction of traffic flow. I don’t have to look both ways repeatedly as one does crossing a two-way street. Now, is that louder for residents if the streets allow for faster traffic? No doubt.

    Seems like there are a multitude of possible design objectives in play here, some of which will have a negative impact on some of the others. It just depends on which objectives people most want to advance when priorities are competing as such.

  • Well, it’s time to turn both Central and College into 2 way streets for the downtown community. Of course most people who drive these streets on average of 2 times per day & 5 days a week wouldn’t be able to comprehend ‘downtown community’. The suburbanites can use Capital and Illinois as far as I’m concerned.

    • It’s easy to rail against suburbanites, but don’t forget that College and Central are significant commuting streets for those who live in Fall Creek Place, Meridian Park, Broad Ripple, Meridian-Kessler, etc.

      Also, why aren’t Capital and Illinois important to the downtown community?

    • The major institutions on Capitol (Methodist and Ivy Tech) and Illinois (The Children’s Museum and Ivy Tech) are all for traffic calming. Not necessarily two-way traffic, though, because all three have been built up oriented to one-way streets, especially their parking facilities.

  • All of downtown one way streets are important. But let us remember why they are one way streets. They benefit driver convenience much more than the neighborhood sense of community. Would you not agree? It’s just funny how downtown streets cater more to people who do not live downtown.

    • Well, it is downtown. It is in part a residential neighborhood, but by its very nature a downtown is a center of commerce, government, and entertainment that has to be designed, in part, to cater to people who don’t live there. If it weren’t for the flood of people from outside downtown who come downtown to work, eat, drink, play, etc., then downtown would have a mere fraction of the amenities that it has. I don’t say that to defend every car-friendly development in the city. I wouldn’t be posting here if I didn’t wish Indy were more urban, more dense, more pedestrian- and bike-friendly, and less car-oriented. Still, in the year 2011, the vast majority of people who come downtown are going to travel by car. That’s not to say that cars should be the first or only consideration, but they have to be a major consideration.

  • Of course John. But what year will Indianapolis turn the corner for Downtown residents rather than people who live on the outskirts? I’m just curious. I assume it will be a while with our conservative ways. The Cultural Trail is really the one development that may promote better development standards for this city. But there needs to be other basic things addressed for a more livable downtown. I would say turning a few one way streets to two way–while it would have a huge impact for downtown residents–would not totally screw over the daily commuters.

    • Who knows? Maybe never. Currently, about 120,000 people work in the regional center, with a residential population of, generously, 25,000, about 12,000 of whom live in the area bounded by 65/70 and White River. Downtown is always going to be the seat of city, county, and state government, will provide most of the region’s destination sports/entertainment venues for the foreseeable future, and hopefully will remain a center of commerce. It’s not as if truly livable cities such as New York, Boston, and San Francisco don’t have a ton of people commuting in as well.

      I’m not even necessarily opposed to turning some or most of the one-ways into two-ways. Where I disagree is with the notion that the only people with a stake downtown are those who live downtown.

  • What I find interesting about this whole debate is that we are focused on downtown livability and one-way streets, as opposed to one-ways impact on livability in the neighborhoods outside downtown. The need for one-way streets is perhaps slightly greater downtown due to the density of travelers leaving major events to prevent gridlock (although some might argue that a little gridlock after an occasional major event isn’t something you should design your public realm to prevent), than it is on the near North and East sides. And I can’t imagine anyone would argue that livability (judged by residential property values / rents?) isn’t extraordinarily higher downtown than at 21st & Capitol, 30th & Central, New York & State, Michigan & Arsenal, or even 25th & Delaware.

    I get that the debate started because of the proposed development hinting at converting College, from Mass to Market, but let’s focus our energy where it is most needed and where it will have the most significant impact on improving the City and its tax base. Is that not in stabilizing and gentrifying the long decayed neighborhoods that surround downtown? If converting one-ways to two-ways will have an incredible impact on quality of life and attracting residents and investment, shouldn’t we be looking at how to make these corridors more “livable” outside of downtown?

  • I’d answer Paul’s question with a resounding yes, IF (and it could be a large IF), converting one-ways to two-ways would have an incredible impact on the quality of life …

    I’m not totally convinced it will, where it will, and how we way that with other considerations that are also a part of quality of life considerations.

  • Let’s do a little thought experiment. On the near east side, do Michigan and New York look or perform substantially different from the two major north-south arteries (Sherman and Rural)?
    My answer is “no” to “look different” and “yes” to perform different. There is disinvestment, abandonment, and blight on all of them in similar proportions. Some retail and commercial spaces are occupied and functioning on all of them. All have some boarded spaces also. They all look pretty much the same. But without question, Michigan and New York perform better, don’t bottleneck, and allow safe and quick passage through. It’s downright painful to drive north-south on Sherman or Rural between 10th and English…so bad that adjoining streets are often one-way to discourage people from cutting down parallel residential streets to avoid the traffic hassles.
    So to those who suggest that there would be some dramatic increase in quality of life simply from converting one-way streets to two-way, I say “probably not so”. Conversion is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition to improve a neighborhood. And one-way arterials are not a sufficient condition to prevent revitalization: see Fall Creek Place.
    On the other hand, the one-way arterials do enhance the quality of life for revitalized or never-blighted neighborhoods such as Herron Morton, Fall Creek Place, Historic Meridian Park, Watson McCord, Butler Tarkington, Broad Ripple and Meridian Kessler by providing relatively quick access to the Regional Center by car or bus. As John M points out so well, the concentration of jobs and activities in the Inner Loop of the city will always mean that non-residents are arriving by car to work or to play.
    IMO, if we can move a bunch of those people in and out on our “low-speed expressways” (one-way pairs), that’s an overall quality of life advantage over our competitors Columbus and Minneapolis, which are webbed with many more uptown, downtown, and crosstown high-speed expressways. Look critically at Columbus: a full inner loop, two crosstowns, an extra uptown, and a total of SEVEN expressway segments radiating out from downtown to the outer belt. That’s about twice as much expressway as Indy inside the loop, in a smaller city/metro. It just promotes more sprawl.

  • I agree College avenue should have more capacity to help drain some of it off Meridian Also Meridian should have a center turnlane to keep left turning people from blocking traffic with Indygo Buses.
    Also incase anyone was curious well find out if i run for Mayor of Indy in 2015 or later. If Mayor Greg Ballard LOSES this election and the Communist Kennedy takes office i will challenge her in 2015. If Ballard wins ill wait until he is defeated.

  • Chris, I’m not sure when you are encountering your “painful experiences” from traffic congestion on Rural or Sherman. The only painful experiences I have when driving on those streets is feeling disappointed about how woefully designed these corridors are, and how, in many cases, a pedestrian is just one misstep from being run over. E.g. Rural, between Michigan and 10th has 50 feet of right-of-way, yet only about 40′ of it is used. Roughly 30 feet of street pavement, with 5-foot sidewalks next to each curb. With parking only permitted on the west side, the east sidewalk is directly adjacent to northbound traffic. What a travesty of poor public design! The curb-adjacent sidewalks, with no tree lawn and no on-street parking is common for both of these north-south corridors although there is dedicated public right-of-way available in almost all locations.

    And look at the intersection of Michigan and Rural. The crosswalk on the north side of the intersection is 80′ long. This is to cross a two-lane street (one lane each direction) with a southbound right turn lane. With 10′ wide lanes the norm on Rural, this should be a 35-40′ long crosswalk. What in the world is the City doing wasting all this extra asphalt, other than discouraging pedestrians? One-way or two-way traffic certainly isn’t the only element of street design that affects quality of life.

    • “One-way or two-way traffic certainly isn’t the only element of street design that affects quality of life.”
      Amen. My point exactly: changing one-ways into two-ways simply won’t fix what ails our streets in Indy.
      Part of the “painful” experience of Sherman, Rural, and Emerson (all three arterials are one lane each way between English and 10th save for a four-lane segment of Sherman between English and Pleasant Run Trail, a particularly harrowing crossing) is the pedestrian experience. And they’re unsafe for bikes.
      Those two streets have lots of stop and start, lane shifts, odd configurations, such as a dedicated RIGHT turn lane from southbound Sherman to one-way Michigan, but no dedicated left-turn box two blocks south at New York. (I’d have to look it up, but I don’t think the ROW of both is uniform from 10th to English.) It takes 4-5 minutes to go from 10th to Washington on Sherman or Rural regardless of time of day or day of week. That means it can be faster to skip down a residential side street where one can do a touch-and-go stop at the arterials instead of a full-stop wait at a signal…which has led to adjacent streets being one-way as a countermeasure. (Those are artifacts from the days of massive employment at RCA and Mallory, in part.)
      My overarching point: street rights of way must serve cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians well and safely. Too many Indianapolis streets don’t: lack of parking lanes or tree lawns and long crossing make walking an unnecessary adventure. Unpredictable ROW shifts make bicycling and driving less safe. Wide turning radii, while accommodating school and IndyGo buses, make for very long pedestrian crossings. And is is not a solution to simply choke traffic, because even in an “ideal” (alternative transit mode) world, 80-90% of trips in Indy will be by car. Choking arterials increases travel time and pollution and noise from increased stops and starts, decreasing the quality of life overall.

  • I totally agree with you, Paul. But it’s obvious what this town’s focus is with their poor street ‘designs’. Let’s just leave it at this: Turn College into 2 way…it would be a huge start for downtown Indianapolis.

  • I drove up College last night from Washington St and I am a firm believer more than ever that this could happen. Make College 1 travel lane north and south, and a middle turn lane. Could be some potential congestion to turning at side streets, but perhaps a compromise that during rush hour no turns are permited onto secondary streets. 7-8:30 and 3:30-6 or something…… just brainstorming.

    • Curt let’s do the math. 12,000 cars per day on that segment from Michigan to Mass Ave. aren’t evenly distributed over the day. Let’s imagine that they are evenly distributed from 7am to 7pm, which probably understates PM rush hour and overstates every other hour.
      1,000 cars per hour is 17 cars per minute. The light cycle at Mass Ave. is between one and two minutes long. That means when the light turns red, 17-22 cars would stop in the single lane northbound. (Which is a reasonable approximation, because at morning rush it typically backs up about 5-8 cars across two through lanes, and 3-5 at the left-turn box. During Cultural Trail construction, if one NB lane was closed, the backup typically stretched south to North St. or beyond.
      I stick by the statement that if this segment of College is changed to two-way, it must be done in a way to preserve both NB through lanes. Especially if a non-downtown busline (similar to the Keystone line) is to run up and down that stretch.

  • Chris, I think what you don’t consider, is that every car using College Avenue has several other options. There is excess capacity all over, at all times of day. If College is overly congested betwen 4:30-5:30 p.m. M-F, the necessary number of commuters will choose an alternate route. Absent a true overall congestion problem in Indy, it wouldn’t be absolutely necessary to maintain the two northbound lanes. Traffic, like water, will adjust to find the path of least resistance.

    • I agree with what you said Chris. But I also agree with Paul as well.
      Btw, a debate over beers something would be nice 😉

      • I think we should meet at Napolese. That would be this blog’s home turf, as Chris was opposed to it :p

        • That place is great too! Local beer. Local pizza.
          Plus, I have not heard about any negative press regarding their new restaurant.

          • Curt, we’ll create some negative press for ’em if we’re hanging out on the deck drinking beer and arguing one-way streets. 🙂

            and Kevin…I’d never find a parking space. 🙂 Last time I was in the ‘hood for lunch I had to park at 49th & Washington.

    • Paul, that’s been my whole point: there is NOT another northbound arterial between Delaware and Rural. It’s already the relief. That’s why 12,000 cars a day use it now.
      Delaware lost a rush hour lane when Fall Creek Place was built and now has parking on both sides with three through lanes to Fall Creek Parkway. Rural is only one through lane from Washington to Mass Ave. And the only way to get to the northbound 2-lane segment of Rural from downtown? Right through the intersection of College/Mass/St. Clair.

  • Every time I’m driving south on College and have to turn right onto Mass Ave I think…”huh…this is stupid” A two-way College Ave would be awesome.

  • I’m still confused why downtown should rely on just a couple of streets for northbound traffic flow during 3-4 hours a day? It’s like saying Marion Conty should support LRT for Hamilton County residents…at the expense of Marion County. I mean I get. But I don’t…if Indy wants to move forward as a place for people to invest and live. All I’m saying is we shouldn’t have to wait 20 years to makke some fairly basic changes for the downtown community.

  • Traffic is a complex topic and everyone has good points. I agree with others that streets need to be made for both movement and be cognizant of the role they play in the neighborhoods that they run.

    Also, traffic counts don’t tell the whole story. If you ask many honest transportation engineers in the city, the road capacity we have in many segments will more than handle 30 year traffic growth projections. If a city ever can handle rush hours and Super Bowls without congestion, I think you really need to do some soul searching as to whether life is worth living any more 🙂

    You have to factor in curb cuts, bus routes, historical precedent of street width and to me, one of the most important things is commuter expectations. You have to wean people off of and into other routes to avoid considerable backlash.

    Given all of this, I think all of our streets can function better. I do believe over time, it is better to have a balanced traffic system

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