Cultural Trail: A $60 million parking lot?

Last night, I rode my bicycle to IUPUI. It has been unseasonably warm here in Indy for the week of the Super Bowl and I decided that it was time to take advantage of one of my favorite modes of transportation, the bike. I always attempt to take advantage of all the wonderful pieces of cycling infrastructure that our city is providing these days and yesterday was no difference. As often as I take pride in these structures though, it comes with an equal amount of disdain for people who have an utter disrespect for the same valuable pieces of infrastructure.

Cultural Trail at West St & St. Clair (image credit: Curt Ailes)
Cultural Trail at West St & St. Clair (image credit: Curt Ailes)

Case in point, the above picture. This was the west side of West Street at the St. Clair street crossing. The officer, with IMPD, was parked here on my way to class as well as on my way out of campus 2 hours later. Car blocking up the trail and all. On my way back home, I got a red light at this intersection and I decided to engage the officer. The conversation went like this:

Me: Does IMPD have a permit to park on the trail like this? 

Officer: I do not know. (shrug)

Me: Because it’s illegal for the rest of us. 

Officer: (shrug)

While the officer was not totally blocking the trail, there are PLENTY of side streets in this area where she could have parked her car and walked over to, I assume, provide traffic control for the busy afternoon commute as she had been positioned at the traffic light control panel.

What bothers me about this is the double standard. If bikes were parked in the middle of West Street, the police would surely show up and make sure that they were moved. However, in this case, the police themselves were the offenders blocking up one of the city’s key pieces of new cycling infrastructure.

It’s time to stop this sort of behavior Indianapolis.

Comments 10

  • Seriously? This really bothered you? Its a police officer controlling a traffic signal. Police officers can do a lot of things you and I can’t. If you wanna complain about “cultural trail as parking lot”, try to ride your bike in front of Conrad on a busy afternoon or evening. Now there is something worth complaining about.

    • Scroll through our history. We have made plenty of noise about the Conrad. I had a generous quote in the IBJ about it. This is just another abuse and yes, this seriously bothers me.

  • Josh,

    We all understand that the police are doing a job. The issue is that they are sacrificing a basic need for a choice. In order to, I guess control vehicle traffic, they have removed a large section of a vital pedestrian artery.

    • Yeah, just look at all those pedestrians and bicyclists on the trail on an evening with beautiful weather. It would be impossible to pass by that police car. This is an outrageous disruption!
      [Sarcasm off.]
      This is the essence of “choose your battles”, guys. If the post included a picture and complaint about a car parked on the Cultural Trail or Georgia Street in the middle of 50,000 people last night, that would make sense.
      Guess what? There were no police cars parked on the Cultural Trail along Washington last night at the same time this photo was taken. I walked the length of the Trail from Government Center to Meridian at about 7pm. I didn’t see any on Georgia, either. The ones I saw were blocking traffic lanes to keep cars off pedestrian ways.

      • Hey Chris,

        I count 5…….about the same number of vehicles in the photo in a city you claim must live by the car. So by your logic, the police car could be on the street……and cars could easily get around?

  • In Broad Ripple, people regularly drive in bike lanes on the Avenue.

  • “It’s time to stop this sort of behavior Indianapolis.”

    I seriously recommend starting with civilians. At any point in time, you are probably doing at least one illegal thing and don’t even know it. If you decide to “engage” a police officers over things like this, before long one of them will cite you.

  • I was waiting at the light @ Shelby and Hanna the day before yesterday. Somebody in a silver Mazda rolled up behind me in the bike lane. They had to wait for a line of around 8 cars to clear so they could get back into the car lane while I stood there trying to draw there attention to the lane markings.

    Sadly, I don’t think they ‘got it’, even after all that.

  • Sorry, I originally left this response under the wrong article:

    I think I have to fall on the side of those saying “choose your battles.” The Conrad valet parking abuse, the trail tiles broken by cars parking on them downtown, and people cutting off bicyclists in bike lanes are far more serious concerns in my opinion.

    And yes, IMPD may very well have the authority to park on the Trail while engaged in official duties. I have been to several cities and seen officers parked in places that are not open to regular traffic. E.g. In San Francisco (a much more transit and pedestrian-oriented city than Indianapolis), officers drive up onto the Civic Center plaza in front of City Hall, and this is definitely illegal for other vehicles.

    If the officer were preventing people from using the Trail (not just partially blocking it) or damaging it, then I would agree it would be worth getting upset about. But, I just think there are bigger battles to fight. And, if this incident really bothers you, don’t waste the space blogging about it here, instead file a complaint with IMPD by calling or writing the Chief of Police. You may not get the result you want, but at least they will have to address your concern.

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