Measured Progress: Bike Lanes on Broad Ripple Ave

Last week, guide lines went down on Broad Ripple Ave between the village and Keystone Avenue. I knew that the thermostriped permanent ones would not be far behind.

Broad Ripple Ave Bike Lane (image credit: Curt Ailes)
Broad Ripple Ave Bike Lane (image credit: Curt Ailes)

Well, the new lines are down and my initial expectations for what the corridor would look like have been exceeded.  The new design has caused a small stir in the twittersphere as I noticed some people wondering what the city was thinking of when they designed this. I even received a call from Fox 59 seeking comment on camera. I accepted, but the story was changed and I never got the opportunity to talk about it. Regardless, this tells me that there is some backing to what could potentially become some of the most controversial lanes in Indy.

Broad Ripple Ave Bike Lane (image credit: Curt Ailes)
Broad Ripple Ave Bike Lane (image credit: Curt Ailes)

What was once a 4 lane auto-only corridor (with 2 travel lanes in each direction) has been tranformed into a 1 auto lane each direction design with a center turn lane, and bike lanes on each curb. Coupled with the rebuilt & new sidewalks along the same stretch that were completed last year, I would give this project nearly as high a grade as I gave for the 46th Street project which was comprised of nearly the same elements, albeit in a much lighter auto-trafficed corridor. It should be noted that there has not  been any sort of outcry by the local media about the changes made on 46th street. There are some jogs in the bike lanes on Broad Ripple Ave near traffic lights at Evanston and Primrose, and I will admit that this could present some issues while normal drivers of this stretch get used to the new design. The project itself is not yet complete with some cross-walk striping yet to be laid down as well as the cycle icons in the lanes themselves and some light timing adjustments to be made according to Jamison Hutchins from the Office of Sustainability.

Broad Ripple Ave Bike Lane (image credit: Curt Ailes)
Broad Ripple Ave Bike Lane (image credit: Curt Ailes)

Whatever the case, the significance of this corridor’s transformation cannot be underscored. Broad Ripple Ave is a fairly busy auto corridor; especially when the weather is nice and people are out cruising in their cars. The fact that the city had the bold audacity to remove an auto travel lane speaks volumes about the City’s will, as well as the Mayor’s office, to prioritize bicycling facility improvements. Paul Ogden, a frequent reader and local political blogger, recently added some criticism to the blogosphere with his critique of the design.

Broad Ripple Ave & Evanston (image credit: Curt Ailes)
Broad Ripple Ave & Evanston (image credit: Curt Ailes)


While there is some validity to Paul’s message, I still think that overall, this project will raise awareness of cyclists on our streets. Additionally, one less auto lane for cars to drive in could effectively slow down average automobile travel speeds on this stretch which are, in my informal opinion, excessive. If you have ever tried crossing 4 lanes of this stretch on foot, the cars come at you pretty quickly. I’ve heard some rumor here and there over the past few days that people are complaining about the added congestion. I have seen the congestion and it is real but we are not talking about 4 light cycle backups; more like an extra minute or two to travel destinations in the village or to get out.

Sharrow on Broad Ripple Ave in the Village (image credit: Curt Ailes)
Sharrow on Broad Ripple Ave in the Village (image credit: Curt Ailes)

Is the added congestion worth the new-found safety for cyclist and slower automobile traffic speeds? In my humble opinion, the answer is a resounding yes. This is my official kudos to the City.

Comments 68

  • A slowed-down Broad Ripple Avenue could also be more attractive to they type of street-facing building development that this blog advocates. The city would likely need to add parallel parking along that stretch as well, though, to help complete the street and minimize the outlot-type of development that is common along this stretch of BR Ave.

    You are certainly correct about crossing the street on foot, which should be much easier now than it used to be. I have yet to see these lanes for myself, so I can not say for sure how I feel about them, but I have a feeling the traffic will adjust, just as it did in Broad Ripple proper.

  • Before anyone gets the chance to chime in about how they hate bike lanes, I will add my general approval as well. I have not had the chance to ride these yet so my official opinion cannot be placed. The concept is as great as Curt mentions. Road diets are going to be much mroe common as we go along, unless you enjoy punching yourself in the face. I can say with confidence that bike lanes don’t actually provide a barrier from traffic. Any idiot knows that and it isn’t the design goal. Bike lanes show motorists that bikes are present and have a dedicated space to travel. There are issues with the instant jump outs where cars cross through the green areas to turn and the bike lane jumps out into the travel lane. I believe some advanced signage would solve some of the issue, but it comes down to drivers and cyclists obeying the law like it always does.

    In Channel 8’s report on this addition, they interviewed an angry driver, two angry business owners served primarily by car, had the reporter drive by the bike lanes and describe them from a vehicles perspective and tossed in a small clip of a cyclists approval. I guess in a city with a modal split of 99.8% to .2% car vs. bike it shouldn’t be any surprise. I thought deeper about the complaints of cengestion and wondered why a business, who ultimately locates near BR AVE for visibility would complain about motorists actually slowing down and viewing the store. It is like window shopping from the street. Pedestrians will feel safer and cycling is very much on the rise. I for one won’t go to a place that is hostile to get there by bike to begin with, but then fails to provide bike facilities for travel and parking.

    Yes, this is a change and that is the second scariest word for Hoosiers after density, but it is important and positive. I know many people still don’t understand the markings, which education will work on.

    Go by Bike!

    • These bike lanes are the worst. Thats what the right lane of traffic is for. Put the bike lanes in less congested areas of town. Believe it or not but traffic and back ups cause more accidents than not with pedestrians, bikes, and auto’s.

  • I concur. I’m excited this stretch of road finally got striped after about a year and a half’s wait while the checks and balances and hoops were managed. It’s not the easiest stretch of road to design flawless bike lanes, but from what I’ve gathered, they did a good job with what they had. I think I’m going to ride them today on my way home, just to get an in the trenches view of it.

    What I find the hardest to handle in reading the majority of dissenter comments is a good portion of the people complaining don’t actually live in the area. They’re complaining about it being harder to pass through the area to get where they reside.

    Also, Curt, I think these lanes more than perhaps any other in the city are going to inflame the philosophical debate you mentioned in your previous post, because these lanes more than any other really highlight the shift from car-centric to multi-modal urban planning that is happening in Indy.

    • Actually I live in the area and myself and my neighbors agree these bike lanes are horrible.

      • Josh,

        I dare say that the opinion of the neighborhood will have little voice in this proposition. I am blown away by the amount of people flying from stop sign to stop sign on 61st and have asked for additional police enforcement due to the idiocy. I am also floored that in my walks to and from Hedlund’s/Marsh and the village that there are no bikers riding in this new space.

        Curt-when you ride by please shout “hello” so I know its you!

        • It sounds like the issue isn’t bike lanes, but law breaking motorists. The reason you may not see bikers right now could be due to the season, daylight savings or the fact that very few connections exist for bike lanes yet. No body drove on streets until they existed…….it sounds obvious and dumb, but think about it.

        • crownhilldigger and Josh, please chime in on the discussion at SSC. I think many people there would appreciate your firsthand perspective. Link below:

  • Actually most of the people complaining are those who work and live in the area. Most of the people applauding it live outside of Broad Ripple ahd don’t have to put up with the traffic. There will be lucky to have 10 bicyclists on those dangerous bike lanes in the course of a day. Is it really worth it?

  • Very much so.

  • I think you are grossly underestimating how much use those lanes are going to get.

  • I think there will be a slight adjustment pattern after the road diet where people get used to the new lanes, but previous in-depth studies have shown no statistical difference between a 4 lane (2+2) vs a 3 lane (1+CTL+1) road in terms of traffic carrying capacity. In fact, they offer a great solution where the average speed stays similar but the fastest drivers must slow down and so increase the safety quite measurably. Once striping is complete this will be a good model to use throughout the city.

  • As someone who regularly drives and walks in Broad Ripple, I am happy to see the new bike lanes. Graeme’s points above offer sound logical and research-based supports. Personally, though, with a school and a park near and/or on this stretch of road, I have a hard time understanding how people think that slowing down traffic (which regularly went 5 to 10 miles per hour OVER the speed limit) is a bad thing.

    People spend so much time in this city alone in cars that I’m convinced they’ve forgotten that others might be using spaces in ways that differ from – and, often, conflict with – their specific short-term travel goals.

  • As a resident of BR, I am happy with this change. There was some congestion on that stretch when we had 4 lanes, and there will be some congestion (during certain hours) now that we have 2 lanes. So, no big deal. I typically ride my bike to LA Fitness, so I am looking forward to use the bike lanes.
    I wish the entire BR avenue looked more like the stretch from College to Westfield (with densely packed street facing shops & restaurants) . There is some proposed office space to be developed on Westfield and BR avenue. My hope is that someone redevelops the abandoned gas station on Keystone & BR avenue.

    • This initiative was promoted by citizen activists in the Broad Ripple community who have been working diligently to apply Complete Streets principles to the Village. The goal with these lanes is to strengthen the connection between BR Park and BR proper, to increase bicycle infrastructure, promote alternatives to the single occupant motor vehicle, to slow down automobile traffic and to demonstrate there’s more to Broad Ripple than bars and cars! It was heartening to see the lanes in use this past weekend by families, people pulling trailers full of goodies from the Farmers Market and other riders who made very good time. FYI: Broad Ripple Village Association has letters of support on file from pro-bike groups like Hoosier Rails-to-Trails Council, Green Broad Ripple & IndyCog as well as endorsements for the lanes from neighborhood groups like Town of Meridian Hills town council, Meridian Street Foundation, Forest Hills Neighborhood Association, Meridian Kessler Neighborhood Assn, Arden Neighborhood Assn, Warfleigh Neighborhood Assn and other business/residents. It took 2 years of diligent lobbying to get BR Ave. included on the list of potential bike lanes and another 2 to see it accomplished.

  • Interesting that (and not to bring the south side in this again) that I’ve heard of no complaints about Shelby Street being repurposed from a four lane road to a three lane road with bike lanes along side of it, and even further north around Fountain Square where the road is now two lanes with turning lanes mixed in. Perhaps the traffic just isn’t that much of a factor in the first place and eliminating that additional travel lane in each direction turned out to be a non-factor. It’s the central section of that street that I’ve heard the most complaints about, since it retains the same lane structure that it had before with the seldom-used parking lane on both sides and a travel lane/sharrow in the center lane for both sides. But in general, it’s the people here in Indy, they believe that them and their “great” driving should get the first priority and that they should not be inconvienced…ever.

    • We will eventually cover the Shelby Street/Madison Ave project. I managed to visit a lot when the track was under construction but since I live on the north side, I don’t get down there are often as I like. With day light dwindling, it could be a little bit but I am anxious to levy some thoughts about that project

      • I rode down shelby to the current south end of the bike lanes a few weekends ago. The cycle track is great, but cars still look beyond the bike path to the road when exiting or entering a parking lot or street. The portions that are bike lanes are alright, just like the rest of the city. I had concerns about the middle lane sharrows. It was very awkward and as a meaningless cyclist who is hated by all, I wasn’t going to put up the fight to ride in the left lane either way. It would be very awkward to force people in cars to switch to the right lane “slow lane in their minds” to pass a cyclist. I saw perhaps 3 cars parked along the street, but other than those I rode to the right.

    • There was some push back regarding the Shelby path, but you’re right: the primary concern for that seemed to be more about losing parking spaces rather than traffic congestion.

  • Report from the field:

    On my ride home from work tonight, I just rode the entire length, both ways, of the lanes in question. I found it very similar in feel to the Michigan/New York St. bike lanes (which I know doesn’t lessen Ogden’s concerns at all, given his vehemence regarding safety & design issues with those lanes).

    I felt very comfortable in the lanes, and while I’ll agree that the lanes shifting to make way for the right turn lanes at a couple of the major intersections was a little awkward, the car traffic present gave me good, wide berth in passing, and the lanes themselves felt comfortable and even over-wide in some spots.

    Cars only encroached upon the lanes 3 times, 2 of which were minor encroachments at the lane-shifts, and 1 of which was a blatant encroachment with a car behind me using the west-bound bike lane as a right-turn lane into the FedEx/Applebee’s lot. But, said vehicle kept a good distance behind me while waiting for its turn into the lot (i.e. I felt no “pressure” from the car to speed up or get out of the way by them driving close to my rear wheel or honking).

    Also worthwhile to note, at one of the intersections with the lane switch, a car behind me kept a comfortable, safe distance from my rear wheel while waiting to make its way into the right turn lane.

    Also, I was the only cyclist I saw using the lanes today.

    Lastly, I noticed very little traffic congestion (this being at approximately 4:45pm, which I would classify as height-of-rush-hour traffic), with only 3-4 cars stopped at each traffic light, all of which were able to proceed through the light on a single green light. The only exception was the intersection of Westfield/BR Ave./Monon, which was a bit more heavily congested: perhaps a few cars more than I’ve normally seen backed up at this stop light, likely due to the right turn lane being removed until AFTER the westbound traffic has passed the Monon (something I’ve noted as a safety concern for Monon users, which in my mind has now been addressed at the cost of a bit more west-bound traffic congestion at this intersection).

    If you’d like, Curt, I’d be glad to make this trip along these lanes a few more times over the course of the next couple weeks and do a guest post regarding my findings. Let me know. You have my email.

  • Report from the field: I have driven the route about 6 times in both directions since the new striping went in. I have seen one cyclist traveling west near the park. Also saw a cyclist in front of a car in the left hand turn lane (heading east) on Winthrop, wildly gesticulating back at her. I had the green so I really couldn’t stop and watch.
    Friday night a taxi passed me in the cycle lane at Kinko’s (heading west). People are still figuring this out – some aren’t trying – most are. A period of adjustment follows….

  • Shelby Street: On the contrary, people have been griping about it being backed up now that it is one lane each way. I had the chance to see this ‘back up’ first hand today as I rolled through there just before 5:30pm.

    Traffic was very sparse, nowhere near capacity and moving nicely despite being rush hour. What I do see is the traffic seems to maintain near the speed limit instead of 5, 10 MPH over. I see that as a good thing for everyone, especially the cyclists.

    Now if the moped riders would figure out they are not bicycles. I had a guy cussing and screaming at me the other day – ‘Wassamatter, you blind?’ – as he gestured at the green light (I was crossing west to east and had a red light! I tried several times to get him to understand he was not on a bicycle and was supposed to over be in the driving lane, to no avail. I have seen several mopeds zooming down the cycle track section since it was finished.

  • John, were you crossing against the light? Last time I checked, a bicycle on the street (or an unplated <50cc scooter) still had to follow the rules.

    I'm worried about safety in the new bike lanes; in the previous configuration, I have ridden that stretch in <50cc scooter, a "big" one (150cc) and a small motorcycle. Even the little job will reach the speed speed limit, albeit slowly — but it was not safe; drivers were oblivious to non-car vehicles and frequently turned in front of me and made lane changes without noticing. Even with bike lanes, I'm very leery of taking my human-powered bike on that street. The cage-dwellers don't see us until it is too late.

    Cruel though it is, I'll leave beta-testing to the willing. Maybe the drivers who use the route all the time will learn, but it won't happen quickly.

  • I need a translation Roberta. Not sure what you are trying to say in your post above.

  • No Roberta, as I said, I was waiting for the green before crossing Shelby, which IS the ‘rule’. The moped rider was furious about a bicycle being in the bicycle lane while he illegally rode his motorized scooter there instead of the driving lane.

  • There is also a multiuse path that is planned for next year on the south side of 62nd street from Keystone east to Allisonville. This will be a great connector in the network!

  • i cycle often. i cycle often in my neighborhood…which happens to be in the affected area. i appreciate the new bike lanes. however, the additional congestion restricts my ability to get in and out of my neighborhood when i am not cycling. it takes several MINUTES for me to turn right (in a car) onto 62nd Street out of my neighborhood (i live north of 62nd on Burlington). previously, it took seconds to turn either direction (i.e. significant idle time).

    during busy times of the day, traffic easily backs up from Primrose well past Keystone (compared to previous traffic patterns, IMHO). i have witnessed it frequently. as a cyclist, i don’t want to ride through the exhaust of idle cars. if there was communication to my neighborhood, i don’t recall it. i am not as connected as many readers of this blog, so i concede my lack of knowledge on this issue (although i do read every post on this blog).

    Christopher mentioned 4:45pm as the ‘height of rush hour’, which i contend is only the infancy of the rush hour in my neighborhood now. traffic has increased significantly in our neighborhood between 5pm and 7pm. those who do not live here might not agree, but i see it on a daily basis. one jaunt through my neighborhood might have a different experience compared to the daily resident’s experience.

    i will extend this offer to any reader or moderator on this blog: please help me develop a way to prove what ‘measured progress’ means as a result the new bikes lanes in my neighborhood. i will open my home as a location to meet, coordinate, and converse after the fact. i have noticed an increase in traffic congestion between 5pm and 7pm, but i cannot quantify what it means. please help me PROVE that the bike lanes are good for my neighborhood. i cannot see it right now. i’ll spend the time, if you will, to support this. i want only to see the evidence that this is good for my community.

    • Hi Mike. A few points I would like to make:

      -We believe (and the data backs this up) that traffic is malleable. People who have the option will begin to use Kessler Boulevard more often if the traffic is intolerable on Broad Ripple Avenue

      -Traffic is only 2 lanes on Kessler and Broad Ripple to the west of the Monon Trail. Neither of these streets have massive traffic backups, although they may have issues from time to time.

      -The bike lanes will encourage multimodal transportation options, and narrowing the driving lanes will make the street safer for pedestrians.

      -I also would support the construction of a street car or a narrowing of College Avenue, which would probably add time to car trips that I would make.

      -Projects that slow down automobiles is something that occurring in cities around the world. We are so used to ever widening roads in Indy, that this is naturally a bit of a shock here, but I believe we will adjust.

      -Bike lanes will be an attractive benefit for younger people who are wishing to locate in your neighborhood, which should help to raise property values.

      I hope this is sufficient. Let’s have a beer soon!

      • “Traffic is only 2 lanes on Kessler and Broad Ripple to the west of the Monon Trail. Neither of these streets have massive traffic backups, although they may have issues from time to time”
        You are kidding, right? Kessler backs up at the lights at Westfield, Central, College, and Winthrop and has for years. The westbound Winthrop backup is usually past Compton at rush hours. The eastbound Central backup often extends to Delaware. (I lived within a block of that section of Kessler for 20 years, and in Canterbury and Broad Ripple Village for a couple of years before that, and drove to work every direction through there over the years.)
        Broad Ripple/Westfield also backed up, very significantly at College and through the village to BRHS, in its old configuration.
        Unbalancing one part of the system (removing capacity from arterials) puts additional stress on the secondaries; in this part of town it just means more traffic on neighborhood streets. It won’t cut out trips in the short run, just alter them in ways that affect the neighborhood negatively. Think more broadly about the Northside and where the river crossings allow longer-distance through trips to major employment centers (DFAS Ft. Ben, St. V’s, Park 100, Keystone Crossing). Kessler, Westfield, and Broad Ripple/62nd are fairly important crosstowns.
        Neighbors already know to avoid Kessler between Delaware and the Monon on local trips at rush hour. Take a look at cut-through traffic on the parallel streets (57th, 58th, 60th, and 61st) some time. (Yes, that’s the advantage of the grid.) 58th especially seems to get a fair amount of MK-to-Broad Ripple traffic, via Forest Hills, since there’s a light at Kessler and Winthrop and stop-and-go signs everywhere else.
        Kessler in particular is pretty hazardous already because of all the left-turning into cross streets between the Monon and Keystone, and moving more local-resident trips off BR and onto Kessler will just make it worse. (One son and I each totalled a vehicle in the past 8 years on Kessler in a left-turning incident, the only accident either of us had in that time.)
        Certainly removing any more lane capacity would be a bad thing, and it’s probably why no bike lanes have ever been proposed for Kessler. Jury’s out on whether the BR Ave change is good for anyone other than cyclists.

        • -Ok, so I was being a bit dismissive of the traffic issues on Kessler Boulevard. That is because I know how to avoid it Yes, that is the advantage of the grid alright.

          -I don’t understand how we can advocate for safer and more dynamic streets without somewhat disciplining the car. This isn’t the end of the world, or the end of driving, or the end of anything. It’s the beginning of a new city, and there will be some bumps along the way. It’s an inevitable shift, though, and I’d rather see Indy get ahead of the game instead of being left behind more progressive cities.

          -You may be right about the current dangerousness of Kessler Blvd, but wouldn’t that be because traffic moves too fast through there? Wouldn’t slowing traffic down at least decrease the severity of accidents?

          -This is off topic, but what is the solution for the traffic backups on the western part of Kessler? Widening the entire street to 4 lanes? How often does that actually solve congestion? Instead, let’s beef up our bus system.

          • I will respond immediately by saying widening roads has a proportionate increase in traffic. The people that would seek an alternative rout will now be drawn to the wider street with the promise of increased capacity and better traffic flow until enough traffic is induced that people again seek an alternate route and we are left with a highway.

          • In this specific case, east from Westfield, Kessler narrows to 3 wide lanes at Washington/New Jersey and then it drops to 3 narrow lanes (one each way plus boxed turn lanes) Central to Winthrop.
            Possibly an additional eastbound lane from Central to College, and an additional westbound lane from College to Monon would knock the bottlenecks. Slowing Kessler to a posted 30/actual 35 would be good, but it would probably require another light at either Primrose or Crestview. But the College intersection is problematic with Fox Stained Glass and Binkley’s pushed pretty close and west of there the houses fronting Kessler are pretty close to the street already, so wider pavement is probably not feasible.
            Is this where I point out that Kessler Boulevard was designed as the Northside’s second express ring road? 🙂 (38th/Maple Road was the first, designed by old George himself.)

        • In terms of a big picture….it seems that most people concerned with the negative effects of suburban sprawl want to see an increase in Indy’s density. So, how do you accommodate higher density? In reality, even if you thought building a new road or adding a lane was a good idea, this would not be feasible in the old neighborhoods like BR or Meridian/Kessler. By taking the 2 lanes away, I agree (although unscientifically since I have no real knowledge on this), you’re making the problem worse. But you would get there sooner or later due to the increase in density (e.g. they are planning 150 new apartments on 61st & Monon) . And the logical next step is to improve mass transit.
          So, to make a long story short, I see getting rid of 2 lanes as a positive because it will improve the block appeal, it will benefit the cyclists, and and it will get us to think about the mass transit sooner than later.

  • It concerns me that most of the negative comments on here seem to be from the standpoint that Indy will always be focused around the car only, period! This situation is like living in a room as a kid, then having to share it with a brother because your parents downsized to save money. You may fight at times and think it is the worst thing in the world, but in the end you each love one another. I have ridden for years with certain death in tow because of this city’s 100% allocation to the car. While it may seem like this change only benefits the cyclist, people will find it means more in the long run to transportation and how we think of it. Even if it did only benefit cyclists………….it’s about damn time.

    • It’s nearly impossible to live and work in Indy without a car. I realize that this is a chicken-or-egg, circular argument. But Indy (at least the part in question, BR Ave east of the Monon) was built around the car. A certain base amount of road capacity is needed, a higher level has come to be expected and planned around.
      Should we make a handful of bike commuters (who, after all, can always pull a Paul Ogden and “wide ride” in car lanes) more “safe” in dedicated lanes, at the expense of reducing safety a little for everyone who lives in an adjacent neighborhood and drives or walks? That latter group is probably “the 99%”. Should we slow down buses in traffic, wasting passengers’ time and diesel fuel?
      I specifically focused my argument on neighborhood and driver safety, as well as congestion…which increases noise, pollution, and wrecks in a concentrated area.
      These are hard tradeoffs, and they rub one set of urban-liberal issues (multimodal access, complete streets and traffic-choking) up against others (pollution, mass transit improvements, pedestrian and driver safety). This might be a case of one person’s karma running over another’s dogma. 🙂
      I’m not saying all bike lanes are a problem, or even many of them. Only a few. And it sure looks as if there’s a good argument that THESE bike lanes might be a problem. That definitely does not make me anti-bike, anti-urban, pro-car. Just realistic and pragmatic, open to debate.

      • It seems that the main issue is congestion at peak hours. This means there is a large quantity of people traveling around the same time going in similar directions. It is as easy as altering your schedule or route………it also sounds like the perfect scenario for increased transit presence. It also seems that these should be top issues for conservatives as well, increasing safety of residents, allowing freedom of choice and mobility and providing a more fiscally constrained model for transportation………

      • there is no such thing as a “car lane”

        • Can a car legally drive on a sidewalk or bike lane where all three exist on the same ROW?
          If not, I’d say that it’s fair to characterize the only lanes where automobiles can drive on BR Ave as the car lanes.

  • Show me the data then and how it applies to my neighborhood.

    I can alter my routes (and I have) but I have fewer choices now due to the location of my house. This route was a main thoroughfare for many people. They are not adjusting well…hence the prime time traffic.

    How was this marketed or advertised? To me it was changed overnight. I don’t recall any campaigns about the change.

    • See earlier post from Tom — Broad Ripple Village Association seemed to be involved quite a bit in the whole project. City doesn’t have money for IndyGo, let alone to advertise (except for those “Rebuild Indy” boards conveniently placed before election). I think in this case it’s up to residents to build their awareness through community involvement.

      • BRVA being involved doesn’t really help me a whole lot. They’ve got a good public image, but on many issues, they seem more interested in representing the business side of Broad Ripple rather than the residents.

        Not that the businesses shouldn’t have representation, but let’s not misconstrue them as some neighborhood association. They’re more akin to a mini-Chamber of Commerce.

        • Rather than submit individual responses to multiple comments (and unfairly bump up the number of comments for this post) I’ll start with Matt’s comment re: BRVA and expand on other comments, too. Matt: BRVA’s membership is pretty evenly divided between commercial & residential members. Same with the board (we actually have more residential board members than commercial, tho, some of the residential members also own businesses.) During Envision Broad Ripple, we quickly determined that Broad Ripple is predominantly a residential neighborhood with a commercial core (albeit, a core that is expanding north of the Canal.) BRVA worked collaboratively with the City to improve the BR Ave. repaving project to include Complete Streets components that had been excluded from the plan in a process called “value engineering.” (I joke that it means “take out all the cool stuff!.”) Those components included bump outs at main intersections, crosswalk enhancements, Sharrows & bike parking. A combination of groups has been advocating for more bike infrastructure in the Village for decades! The Monon Trail being one example since it not only stimulated economic development but also served as a catalyst for additional bike/ped infrastructure in Marion & Hamilton counties (see Pennsy Trail & Carmel Arts & Design District.) To the more general comments I’d like to point out that bike/ped infrastructure improvements in Indy are a long time coming! Dick Lugar created the Mayor’s Bicycle Task Force in the early ’70s to bring together City department heads with citizen activists to coordinate projects. Perhaps you take for granted the fact Indy now has a full-time bicycle co-ordinator, Cops on Bikes, bike racks on buses, bike lanes on Michigan & NY & a downtown commuter hub but I can tell you that each of those projects has been articulated in one form or another for 4 decades. Change certainly can happen all at once but in the realm of public policy it is incremental. Addiing bits and pieces to the bike infrastructure over time has a cumulative effect. Please don’t underestimate the value of such incremental modifications to our auto-centric community and try to look at the long-term positive benefits (can I use the term “synergy” w/o derision?). There wouldn’t be a Cultural Trail w/o the Monon and the Indy Greenways network wouldn’t exist w/o citizens actively, persistently lobbying the City to take action. Finally, I see this discussion as typifying what is referred to as a “Teachable Moment.” That means speaking with the possibility of being heard and listening with the possibility of being changed. Indy is on the verge of dramatic changes in neighborhood development throughout the metro area and in all sectors bike/pedestrian/green infrastructure is a key element. This is a mighty long time coming! This blog serves as one of the vibrant contributors to the palpable sense of enthusiasm and commitment to infusing coming projects with vital components designed to created a more bike/ped local business-friendly community.

    • Mike, I’m going to copy a reply I got from coblogger Graeme Sharpe:

      Sure, here is a paper discussing something very similar to what we have here:

      Slightly more in-depth white paper:

      But literature sources are full of these types of studies. Every DOT
      has to investigate these options before carrying them out, and they
      all find a minimal change to traffic carrying capacity. There is
      always the probability that Indianapolis streets are different than
      everywhere else the issue has been studied, but that is unlikely.

      In any case, I think slow congested streets are going to pump up
      business for this area. The east end of broadripple could get a new
      pizzeria/brewery out of this deal 🙂

  • The blog post (1st link) makes clear that the safety gain was from the combination of center left turn and bike lanes. The second, in-depth paper, is about the traffic impacts and safety improvements of 3-lane center left turn replacing 4-lane operation on “minor urban arterials”. Bike lanes aren’t part of the picture in that study.
    The academic paper mainly claims increased safety and concedes increased congestion: “Vehicle speeds along the converted roadway appeared to decrease somewhat and total delay slightly increased, but the total crash numbers as measured by beforeand-after studies usually showed improvement.”
    By MPO’s counts, BR Ave carries more traffic than Kessler per day (up to 24,000 past BRHS) and is higher than the high end of the White Paper’s study range and the paper itself says this will bring unacceptable results: “A combination of the results described above suggest that the operational impacts of a conversion may be minimal at volumes less 750 vphpd, that this impact should be more closely considered between 750 to 875 vphpd, and that volumes above 875 to 1,000 vphpd may introduce operational changes and concerns that are unacceptable to the community (1, 2, 3). Assuming a 50 percent directional split and a 10 percent peak hour factor these volumes are equivalent to 15,000 vpd, 17,500 vpd, and 20,000 vpd.”

  • If the literature really is full of studies like this one, I’d say it supports a tentative conclusion that the 3-lane conversion is of questionable value and likely to be opposed by many affected community members for good reason.

    • Good reason being defined as, “I had to wait a couple minutes longer or alter my automobiel commute”?
      My biggest problem devoid of any studies is that we are arguing for the car to continue to dominate our roadway design. I could give a crap about the amount of cars that travel on this stretch whether its 50 a day or 50,000 a day. Creating facilities that dictate equal transportation design for all modes is what is important here. The fact that someone has to wait an additional minute or two shouldn’t even be a key arguing point.
      Frankly, if your life has been turned upside down because of an extra 2 minutes added to your travel time, then people, your issues are unrelated to the transportation network

      • Curt, a good reason is whatever a voter/taxpayer says it is. PO’d voters get mayors and councilors unelected.
        I don’t have a dog in this hunt today. I don’t live or work nearby and only occasionally visit. But I do have a long familiarity with the road in question as an adult driver, runner and walker…probably longer than any of the bloggers, going back to the early 1980s. Because the arguments in favor just didn’t ring true, and the arguments against did, I looked up the study Graeme cited and repeated its findings and conclusion without twist or spin. It just doesn’t support the change.
        If I were still a BR Ave business owner dependent on car traffic from nearby residents, I’d react far more emotionally and forcefully. A minute or two added on to a three or four minute drive is a 50% increase in travel time. It’s not the minutes, it’s the 50% delta and aggravation of fighting the turn that will make a customer think about altering behavior.
        In two more minutes, a customer living on (let’s say) Evanston Ave. could go the other way and could get to my theoretical competitor on Keystone Ave. instead of coming into the Village. I’d suggest that this could have a negative effect on the remaining neighborhood retail in the village, shops that serve everyday needs. Bars, restaurants, etc., probably not so much. When it gets embedded in the public dialog that “it’s SUCH a pain in the ass to get there”, that’s bad for business.
        It’s still a car-based world outside the Mile Square. Applying concepts to outlying neighborhood districts that should (and do) work downtown on Mass Ave or Alabama St. is potentially bad medicine. Such changes need to be well considered. I repeat: in this specific instance, the study and the local anecdotes probably support a conclusion that this change wasn’t the best choice for this street between BRHS and Glendale. I’d probably concede the village, as it really did need the center left turn lane and was already pretty congested and slow.

        • I think the best that could be said about your logic is that you have different priorities than the authors of this website. Saying that the conversion has “questionable value” is reckless. The best choice for any street is one which benefits both local users and through users, and offers a balance of safety and speed for any chosen mode of travel. It’s clear that they made the right decision in this case.

        • You make a good counterpoint available to your arguement here. You cite a minute or two increase is a lot for a 3-4 minute drive. The distance covered in this period is probably around 2 miles. I believe studies show something like 50% of all trips are 2 miles or less…….a perfect distance for biking. The issue isn’t that a car has trouble driving for 4 minutes, it’s that people can’t safely get where they need to go without the use of a car. If people in the area ditched the car for these trips, there would be much less congestion.

          Speaking to business, as one who commutes by bike, I will not go to an area or a business that does not have an atmosphere conducive to all modes of travel and certainly not a place that doesn’t provide bike parking as well. These business owners you speak of who might get upset about additional vehicle travel time, will see an increase in customers on bike. Unless they dedicated their business soley to the car……which would be a bad business model. A diversified portfolio is a strong portfolio, and the city is making the right changes.

          Castleton and Keystone have some of the worst traffic in the city, and they are premiere shopping destinations. Traffic is good for business and it proves if you have a desireable product, poeple will get there.

          • “The issue isn’t that a car has trouble driving for 4 minutes, it’s that people can’t safely get where they need to go without the use of a car. If people in the area ditched the car for these trips, there would be much less congestion.”

            While I agree with you, isn’t the Broad Ripple area already pretty bike friendly? There are several neighborhood side streets to use so that crossing or riding on major roads (BR AVe outside of the Village, Kessler, College) should be minimal, Westfield is pretty bike friendly and has the Towpath up till you hit Westfield/College, and you have the Monon for those who want to go to the northern part of the village or beyond.

            Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think cyclists whose average trips are 3-4 miles are going to hop on BR Ave or Kessler to bike torwards Keystone.

          • Matt, I see your comments but all I hear is, “The drive through for ME in MY car is going to be slower and therefore, everyone’s drive through will be, so these changes are not that positive. ”
            You forget, that there will be a new path from Keystone to Allisonville along 62nd that should be done by this time next year. Conceivably, when the NE Corridor is done, one could ride from a station there, all the way to Broad Ripple on a protected bike path or an on street bike lane. This is good long term planning for such a scenario. Additionally, your agument holds little water. Because people dont use Broad Ripple ave now (or previously) for cycling is akin to people saying there is no demand on highways for bike lanes, because nobody rides there.
            These changes create equality for all modes, slow down traffic and make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians and if some traffic makes it to the side streets, there are plenty of stop signs, narrow streets with parked cars and such to slow them down as well.

      • “Creating facilities that dictate equal transportation design for all modes is what is important here.”

        Since this seems to be the central argument for many of your comments here, I wonder if it is the one that really needs to be discussed and studied in greater depth? Do people believe that the goal should be creating equal transportation design for all transportation modes?

        It’s one thing to rail against the car-dominated mindset and champion making neighborhoods more bike and pedestrian friendly. Suggesting all transportation modes deserve equal treatment (and resources I assume?) seems to be a very different point.

        • The main article is not an argument for equal funding, it’s an argument for transportation equity. This includes the issues of accessibility, funding, safety, and freedom of choice. These are basic guidelines of design that have to be interpreted for local needs of course, but in general we need to do a much better job than we have done the past 30-40 years of infrastructure investment.
          Transportation engineers and public officials have an ethical duty to protect the public health and welfare, and they can’t abandon the principles of equal transportation design any more than a doctor can refuse to treat a sick person. This is a requirement of their position, and it is beyond a debate of what people want. If professionals did not have this ethical duty, you would be living in a much different world.

  • As a resident of the neighborhood I can say that what we have seen is a heavy increase of vehicular traffic on 61st and 60th to and from BR. These streets are very narrow and w/resident parking on either side do not allow for cars to pass w/out some give and take by the vehicle operators. Retrospectively I would have preferred that 61st or 60th we dedicated to the biking public as it would have been infinitely safer for all. Dumping the overflow into the neighborhoods will undoubtedly not be good long term.

    • Interestingly enough, Storrow and Kinsella proposed using 61st (I think; might have been 60th) for an enhanced bike-ped corridor a decade or so ago.

  • Didn’t really mention cars, Curt. You sure you responded to the right guy?

    I really like the narrowing of the roads and expanding the sidewalks (while painting and making the crosswalks more visible and colorful) within the main part of the Village. Not sure how much of the area outside of Broad Ripple really has the demand to become more walkable.

  • It appears someone may have crashed into a section of the bike track on Shelby. A 10 foot section of posts are gone and there is what appears to be the start of repairs to rebuild the barrier.

    Anybody know what’s up with that?

  • My first comment ever: I’ve been reading this blog for most of this year, I found it very interesting. The comments of its authors over the recent months, though, are increasingly disappointing. I was very drawn to the thoughtful debate, the give and take, the real discussion of the REASONS for bringing about change. That tone has apparently dissipated, and people with dissenting viewpoints are now getting railroaded and mocked. Incredibly sad, and mostly ironic because ultimately I agree with the authors’ overall goals. There is and always will be room to hash things out, though. The heavy handedness is about to lose you one previously interested reader. You can run your blog the way you’d like, just making you aware it’s turning off people who like rational debate. People who are utterly and unassailably convinced of their complete “rightness” gets very dull, I’m tired of seeing it pop up with such regularity.

    • I’m sorry that you feel that way but it’s funny that you think we are railroading people. I cannot speak for all the writers but I can say this.
      Every writer here is doing something in this community to make a positive change. People trying to make a
      Positive change have been railroaded for years by city, state and federal agencies. Crummy policy has been written and got us where we are today and frankly one of the biggest reasons Urban Indy exists. Remember we are all citizens too.
      In the case of Broad Ripple Ave and the bike lanes I constantly remind myself that web decision makers buckled to the neighborhood, business owners and such, the poor and dangerous Madison Ave bike lane debacle resulted. I will not stand for that as long as I have a voice.
      Point blank, the new bike lanes slow down traffic on Broad Ripple Ave and level the playing field for all users if the corridor. And before anyone asks, yes I live close to them and I can tell you that the new lanes have already created a better environment for my family and I to travel and do business along this stretch.

  • At the risk of making this discussion less friendly, I am a non-BR resident that infrequently drives Broad Ripple Avenue as a through street to the north east side. This weekend was the first time that I drove with the new bike lanes. My biggest problem driving through this area was frequent, sudden, unexpected stops behind cars (sometimes 4 or more cars ahead) turning left from a through lane. This didn’t happen. I have also felt that speeds in this area were extremely high for the width and condition of the lanes. I felt the slightly lower speeds gave me more reaction time for cyclist and pedestrians. Finally, there was no loss of time due to slower speeds as the traffic was flowing more smoothly. I am sure that local residents might have a different experience but for me, even as a driver the change was an improvement.

    • Thanks for commenting Bonnie! It’s nice to see a motorist who travels through this area offering a positive spin on the changes and how they affected your experience. If you aren’t a normal reader, stick around for a little bit!

  • I have driven down br avenue a few times since the bike lanes were put in and I didn’t notice traffic problems. Maybe it is bad during rush hour. Honestly, I don’t mind the one lane street, people go too fast by the park anyway (heck, did you see graemes last post about a family with a stroller almost getting run over? Scary.) I would have preferred in the town some green stuff between the road and the sidewalk though… trees would spruce up the esthetics of the strip and would make it safer to walk there too.

    • Very true. Trees and other landscaping would help soften the edge and provide a safer experience for pedestrians. One of the issues with complete streets is that some places may be too narrow to provide all aspects of a complete street. When you begin to talk about travel lanes for cars, transit and bikes as well as sidewalks and landscaping, you begin to really ask for a fairly wide Right of way. The project here is great because it didn’t require expansion, just reorganized what was already there to accomodate multiple modes. I think trees are a part of the BR future plans.

  • I have read through this several times, and I really have tried to see every side of the discussion, but it comes down to this: Noble Idea, Failed Execution. Hear me out.

    My whole life revolves around Broad Ripple. What they have done is wrong. I own bikes, I ride bikes, I like people who ride bikes, I wish more people rode bikes and more people didn’t drive “one person in a car” trips. But it ain’t gonna happen in Broad Ripple, on the Northside, or in Indianapolis. We are not that kind of city, we were not designed that way, and you can spend all the money in the city budget trying to work around that fact, but it just isn’t going to happen.

    While I applaud many of your positions on biking, you are not grounded in reality. Your POV is based on everyone having a commuting existence where you can wear casual clothes, can be late for work, don’t have any stops to the grocery, dry cleaner, office supply store, hair salon, after work responsibilities, children, meetings that might run late, appointments out of the office, or God forbid – children and school! At the risk of sounding like a jerk, are you all really people who can ride your bikes to work everyday? You can get rained on, snowed on, sweaty, dirty, and smelly and show up for work? Ever try to ride a bike in a suit? How about haling a 10 year old and a 12 year old around in a buggy on the way to school? How about loading up 2 pounds of chicked, some milk a gallon of juice and some cereal and a loaf of bread while you have those kids in your buggy and a suit on? See how ridiculous this is? the people that fall into your category of “truly potential users” is a fragment of the travellers who pay for, use and depend on that stretch of road. Daily. And to insiuate that I have something wrong with me because I cannot twiddle my thumbs and wait in line for the lights to cycle 4-6 times, is condescending and arrogant and foolish. Really?

    Next point: Your rights end where mine begin. Admittedly, only a very very select few in the population will ever use those bike lanes. What, ultimeatly on a nice sping day maybe 15-20 an hour during rush hour, right? Now stack that up against how many cars and trucks use those lanes. Doesn’t seem proportionate that you took 2 lanes out to facilitate a relative handful of birkenstock wearing bikers pedalling their way to the esoterica of the desigh studio, or wherever you folks work. From many people’s POV, you have trespassed against me by taking away my roadway. A roadway that was already too busy, already too unsafe, already too accident prone and yet you made it worse. All for the joy of a handful of freewheelers who will whistle some old REM songs while envisioning some neighborhood they saw on a trip to Boulder or maybe Seattle. The cold hard facts are that you guys just made a bunch of enemies, in your rush to insert your idea of how I should commute/run my life. Everyday I drive through there, which is generally several times a day, I think of you guys, the idiotic Ballard regime, and the bike nazis everywhere. (No hate, just can’t believe this made it off any sane traqffic engineers desk). Outside of this blog and a bike dealer I know, nobody wants this thing, nobody asked for it, and you have made every merchant but the cupcake girls your enemies. Even the kind stoner kid who works at Marsh thinks this was the dumbest idea known to man. Just sayin.

    And safety…don’t get me started there. Oh well, you just did. I talked to the engineers at DPW when this thing went down. Nice fellas. I have a soft spot for government employees. I was one once. I understand you get beat up from all sides. Daily. But their answer as to how Cousin Stupid, Aunt Gertrude and Neighbor Blind as a Bat are going to get educated as to how to drive these lanes and play nice with the bicycling commuters is laughable. “We need to educate people, but we don’t have any money.” Really? that’s it? You put a lot of faith in the morons who drive around Indy. You never know who is going to be sitting beside you, behind you or plow into you on these streets. I pray to God no one gets killed on that thing, but I don’t see how we escape a tragedy with this tragic design. It scares the shit out of me. i’ll ride slowly on the sidewalk, or take 61st or whatever – way before I navigate that gauntlet.

    Now, as my momma used to say, don’t whine unless you have a solution. I do. Previosuly mentioned, and in my own neighborhood I rallied for and still can’t wait to see, the 62nd Street MultiModal Pathway. That’s right. The difference in the projects is this: One worked with the existing streets, and designed a seperate wide pathway, for use with bikes, runners, etc. You all had PLENTY of rightaway to work with on 62nd/BR Ave from Keystone to the BRHS. So why didn’t you use THAT DESIGN? I really wish someone would answer that. And why didn’t you use 61st or 65th or anything else but the busiest E-W connector in the BR area?

    Again – Noble Idea, Failed Execution.
    but this is what i have come to expect from my city of low expectations.

  • I am going do something I’ve never done, and lock comments on this post, as I fear is it is getting too personal. Soon there will be a guest post from Tom Healy of the BRVA, who will give a behind-the-scenes synopsis of how these lanes came about. Hopefully that can give some more background on the situation.