The Broad Ripple bike lanes are the most contentious project that Urban Indy has ever covered.Â The article posted by Curt Ailes turned out to be the most commented on the site, but it was getting so heated that I decided to shut down the discussion for the time.Â We have reached out to one of the major players in the process, Tom Healy, member of the Broad Ripple Village Association Board, in the hopes of adding some additional background information about how the bike lanes came in to existence.Â Â I hope this article can shed a bit of light on the situation (the original article with images can be viewed here via pdf).
Aspirations for bike lanes on Broad Ripple Avenue date back to the mid-1980s when the Mayor’s Bicycle Task Force worked with the City to establish the Tour of the Parks Bike Route a marked bike route that connected all of the major city parks. (Full disclosure, at that time I was the volunteer chair of that group which was created in the early 1970s by Mayor Richard Lugar as a way to bring members of the bicycling community together with City staff to improve bicycle infrastructure.) Broad Ripple Ave. was the signed segment in the Village.
After a series of public meetings and surveys, the City adopted the Broad Ripple Village Plan. It articulated goals that have been dominant themes of subsequent Village planning efforts: improve conditions for bikes and pedestrians and strengthen the connection between Broad Ripple Park and the Village.
Since Earth Day, 2008, the Broad Ripple VIllage Association (BRVA) has partnered with Green Broad Ripple and the Historic Midtown Neighborhood Initiative (originally known as HARMONI, now, simply, Midtown, Inc.) to work with Department of Metropolitan Development planners to upgrade the 1997 Village Master Plan Update.Â At the inaugural session of what has come to be called Envision Broad Ripple (EBR), my presentation alerted the public to major community projects including Central Canal upgrades to create a more park-like atmosphere and the planned Broad Ripple Avenue repaving project.Â At the time I noted community aspirations for more bike/pedestrian infrastructure and
urged advocacy for bike/ped amenities.
The Goldsmith administration solicited and received approval for 80% Federal funding of the repaving project with the stipulation that funds were to be used within a decade. Planning was underway when the Peterson administration assumed management of City affairs but it never allocated the necessary 20% local matching funds.Â When the Ballard Administration took office, it inherited the project and faced a deadline to either use Federal funds in 2009 or lose them – something that would not serve the long-term interests of the City.
Broad Ripple and its allies saw this deadline as an opportunity to upgrade the project to include Complete Streets elements to make it safe and comfortable for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities.As part of our research into urban planning and transportation planning best practices, we learned of the Federal Highway Administration’s strong support for including bike/pedestrian infrastructure in all street improvement projects
Mayor Ballard announces plans to create more than 200 miles of bike lanes in Marion County by 2023. Green Broad Ripple launches a petition drive to encourage the City to consider incorporating bike lanes in the project.Â Within a month 855 signatures (both online & on paper) were compiled and sent to Ballard.Â http://www.thepetitionsite.com/2/bike-lanes-for-broad-rippleavenue-indianapolis-in
BRVA business Division monthly meeting focuses on the BR Ave. project and members advocate for bike/pedestrian improvements to Department of Public Works staff in attendance. EBR 7 devotes an entire 2.5 hour public session to brainstorming bike/pedestrian enhancements to make the Avenue a Complete Street.Â A group of urban planning firms donate renderings to stimulate the conversation.An image by Storrow Kinsella appears on the front page of the Broad Ripple Gazette’s Vol 5. No 26 issue (view at http://www.broadripplegazette.com/frontpages.htm).
At a meeting with key City officials and at the urging of Congressman AndrÃ© Carson’s office, the Broad Ripple Village team proposes adding BR Ave. to the SustainIndy map of proposed bike lanes.Â By Christmas, City officials agree to consider
enhancements as long as they would not jeopardize Federal funds.
At the dawn of the biggest financial crisis our country has faced since the Great Depression, Broad Ripple allies launch Fortune Favors the BRAVE to generate funds to upgrade the Avenue.Â At the inaugural meeting on a frigid January night we receive $20K in pledges.
Indy Star headline:â€œIt’s too late to add to project – Groups want bike lanes, median in Broad Ripple.â€ City officials
alert us that if an enhanced plan isn’t approved soon, we would not have access to Federal and State funds for another 20 years, at least.Â We feel it essential to act now.
DPW holds a pre-construction public Open House at the BR Park Family Center.An overflow crowd views the City’s plans as well as BRVA’s drawings of proposed upgrades for the Village’s commercial core and hears about plans for bike lanes on the Avenue between the Monon Trail & Keystone. By the end of the month, SustainIndy adds BR Avenue to its list of potential bike lanes in 0-2 years.
â€œIt’s a New Day in Broad Ripple Villageâ€ press conference held at Fire Station
32. Councilor Vaughn announces that the City will keep Station 32 open; KIB director David Forsell highlights upcoming Lilly Day of Service projects in Broad Ripple (and all of Midtown); Green Broad Ripple co-founder Brenda Rising-Moore describes commercial recycling initiatives in the Village and BRVA president Elizabeth Marshall announces a Central Indiana Community Foundation challenge grant for the Fortune Favors the BRAVE fund-raising effort. She also reads a letter from the City’s Office of Sustainability announcing plans to install 5â€™ bike lanes with pavement markings and signage from the Monon Trail east to Keystone Avenue to provide connectivity to multiple cultural, educational, and business districts.Â All major print and broadcast media outlets attend.
Community leaders & BRV allies meet with DPW, MPO, INDOT & FHWA.Â Crosswalks, bike racks, planters and other amenities can be added to the main Commercial corridor between College and Winthrop via a change order without jeopardizing Federal Funds.Â The City stipulates that in the event Federal funds remain available, the community may implement upgrades but only if the neighborhood raises the 20% matching funds.Â IndyGo agrees to place a bench and bike rack on BR Ave. at the bus stop in front of Ossip at no charge.
July – November 2009:
The community continues fund-raising. nails down costs for adding decorative crosswalks, bike parking, benches and
sharrows and finalizes agreements with the City. We learn that adding bike lane striping at this phase of the project
would necessitate a complete review by relevant state and federal agencies and therefore is unlikely.
However, the City agrees to temporarily stripe the Avenue east of the Monon with paint to meet Federal and State
requirements to close the project.Â The City agrees to restripe for bike lanes at some future date.
A series of public IndyConnect meetings give BRVA and its allies more opportunities to advocate for bike/pedestrian/transit infrastructure and funding.
By supporting a commuter rail stop at 62nd and Allisonville Road, the community enhances the value of a long-awaited
Midtown circulator through Glendale, Broad Ripple, 56th & Illinois, Butler University and The Indianapolis Museum of Art.
Village advocates also support the proposed separated bike/pedestrian trail on the south side of 62nd Street between Allisonville Road and Keystone that would improve connectivity to the BR Ave. path.
Repaving project completed. SustainIndy press release lauds the upgrades to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety: decorative crosswalks at intersections, bike racks and sharrows.
These additions are made possible by funds raised by the Fortune Favors the BRAVE initiative. Broad Ripple businesses, residents and supporters contribute more than $50,000 to the effort. A $10,000 challenge grant from the Central Indiana Community Foundation catalyzes fund-raising.
Additionally, the City receives a donation of a $25,000 decorative crosswalk at the intersection of the Monon Trail and BR Avenue from Globe Asphalt and StreetPrint.
December 2010 -July 2011:
BRVA undertakes an outreach effort informing
neighbors of four initiatives:
â€¢ Form-based Code proposal as a result of Envision Broad Ripple process
â€¢ Long-standing interest in Central Canal enhancements into a more park-like area
â€¢ Proposed mixed-use parking structure
â€¢ Bike lanes on BRAVE
Presentations were made to the boards of adjacent neighborhoods: Arden, Butler-Tarkington, Forest Hills, Meridian Hills Town Council, Meridian Kessler, Meridian Street Foundation, Oxbow, MIDTOWN, Inc.,Warfleigh.
â€œGreen” advocacy groups and service organizations also received presentations: Broad Ripple Bar and Restaurant Association, Green Broad Ripple, Hoosier Rails-to-Trails Council, IndyCog and Northside Optimists.
BRVA has letters of support on file from all groups (save BTNA) plus additional businesses and residents.
Mayor Ballard is briefed on Envision Broad Ripple progress and encouraged to continue investing City resources in Broad Ripple Village.
City makes good on its promise to restripe BR Ave. for bike lanes.
Urban Indy Addendum:Â The Indy Star has posted a nice balanced article with this reassuring sentenceÂ “But the backups should ease in coming weeks. The city is installing new sensors in the pavement at cross streets. Once activated, stoplight timing will improve.”Â I’m hopeful that these sensors can help mitigate some of the long backups at the cross streets.
Finally, Mr Healy wishes to post these additional comments:
1) I understand motorists are inconvenienced. I truly believe that once the elements are fully in place and once they get acclimated to the changes, it’ll be fine.