Sidewalks as Parking Lots

Here at Urban Indy, we have long been proponents of keeping our city sidewalks free of automobiles. Providing space for pedestrians to safely walk along a street is key in offering a premium urban environment which leads to many things such as sustained economic activity at the neighborhood level.

The City of Indianapolis also seems to value this. Last year, a Complete Streets ordinance was offered by the City Council and adopted in a unanimous vote. Earlier this week, Smart Growth America rewarded Indianapolis’ efforts by awarding us the #1 ranking for policies implemented in 2012. This is a big deal for a city seen primarily as an automobile centered town.

Last year, when the ordinance was adopted, Urban Indy covered the policy and we also asked some questions such as, “How strict will it be? Will it have teeth to hold developers to the flame?” Certainly, with the time span required for new developments, it will be quite some time before we see any real change in how our development patterns occur. However, it does not stop our city from taking the spirit of the policy and putting the best foot forward when it comes to policing current developments.

Mini Cooper in front of Alexander Hotel (image credit: Graeme Sharpe)
Mini Cooper in front of Alexander Hotel (image credit: Graeme Sharpe)

Case in point, the new Alexander Hotel located SE of downtown in the newly opened, and critically acclaimed, CityWay. The Alexander has opened with much fanfare about the service of it’s hotel as well as the fine dining options. Indeed, you might expect valet parking to accompany such an establishment and you would be correct.

However, the operations of said valet have attracted a number of complaints from neighboring property owners as well as patrons of surrounding establishments. The IBJ reported (sorry it is behind a paywall) on this recently and uncovered an IMPD memo offering a reminder of our city’s valet ordinance.

The valet issues may have been policed, however, it appears that the Alexander has taken their promotion of automobile related services to another level. See the photo attached. They have been allowing Mini Coopers to park on their sidewalk as part of a Dreyer & Reinbold promotion.

Cultural Trail fronting The Conrad (image credit: Curt Ailes)
Cultural Trail fronting The Conrad (image credit: Curt Ailes)

Why is this being allowed to stand? Is it not enough that the Conrad is already valet parking directly on the Cultural Trail at a detriment to pedestrians and cyclists? Indeed, a number of downtown hotels seem to offer little concern for pedestrians and cyclists by offering valet parking directly on sidewalks.

In conclusion, this is a side affect of being a heavily auto-centric city. However, if we wish to promote Complete Streets policies in our designs, should we not also be enforcing it through the actions of our downtown service providers?

Comments 25

  • I’m glad someone is covering this. The Conrad makes me absolutely sick. It completely obstructs anyone from using it on their bike. Just recently, I’ve started to notice the Alexander doing this, too, albeit the Alexander’s parking doesn’t directly block a world class urban trail. I still can not get over the fact that the city allowed the valet parking to stay for the Conrad. Does anyone know if there is som provision for that parking to expire?

  • This also happens every day at Deering Cleaners at North St. & Capitol Av. Apparently customers at the hotels and cleaners are too cheap to pay for parking like the rest of us.

    • I use Deering Cleaners at Senate and North often. They have 3 or 4 off street spaces in the lot immediately to the north. If customers are parking on the street, it is due to their laziness not Deering’s failure to provide off street parking.

  • I contacted Buckingham through their Facebook page alerting them to this. They responded by saying it is a promotion, but they have moved the vehicle pictured above so there is more room for humnas to pass by……..Humans? We don’t need no stinking humans!

  • I’d like to “accidentally” crash my bike into a vehicle parked in front of the Cultural Trail on the sidewalk and then sue them… might I have a case?

    • Nope… there are “Begin walk bike on sidewalk” and “End walk bike on sidewalk signs” They will probably point to those and tell you to get the hell out

  • I ride my bike between the cars parked at the Conrad, EVERY SINGLE TIME. I can usually see the valets having an aneurysm as I do so.

    I guess I didn’t see much of a problem with the cars at the Alexander because the sidewalks are pretty wide and I saw the cars as sort of an art exhibit or something (two were in the middle of a courtyard). The Conrad on the other hand is a blatant disregard for the urban environment and a chance for the to showcase other people’s property for their own benefit.

  • This is terrible. Don’t think it’s a good enough excuse to promote CARS on SIDEWALKS.

  • Several motorcyclists now park right on the Cultural Trail in front of the Dugout bar on Virginia Ave as well. I guess parking on a bicycle path is an “outlaw” biker’s last form of rebellion, since they haven’t really struck fear into the hearts of anyone for decades. 😉

  • Showcasing their automobiles on the communities sidewalk. Must make them feel special.

  • I don’t understand why the Conrad thinks having cars on the sidewalk looks good. I think it looks pretty trashy. If I had a nice car, I’d be pissed if they were keeping it on a sidewalk.

    • So, anybody care to have a good ole fashioned peaceful protest? We could all walk our bikes back and forth and carry signs asking that our Cultural Trail be liberated? We should probably schedule it for a time when there is some fairly large convention in town to maximize the audience.

  • In researching about the Cultural Trail last year for a school project, I was reading up on the Conrad’s website that they were promoting the fact that they were on the Cultural Trail, even offering bicycles for its guests to use. As long as you don’t ride them in front of the hotel of course.

  • Every morning, there’s a large pizza by the slice truck (sometimes two of them) parked on the sidewalk at 10th and Bosart (next door to the Emerson Theater). They completely obstruct the sidewalk as far as pedestrians go.

  • I’m one of those hyper-polite cyclists who stops at all intersections and makes a conscious effort to obey all of the traffic laws.
    That said, those “Walk your bike” signs outside of The Conrad make my blood boil, and I do my best scofflaw bike messenger impression every time I blow past them, the valets, and the cars that shouldn’t be parked there. If they have the balls to make a public fight over it, I welcome it. Most likely The Conrad is waiting until there is a less bike-friendly mayor in office before doing so.

  • I like the protest idea, although I think it should be in the street. Put cars on the sidewalk, OK, we will obstruct the street, how does that grab everyone? BTW Relevant and interesting episode of Backstory on how cars took over American streets and haven’t looked back.

  • Courteous Mass ought to organize its Friday Night rides to ALWAYS include passage through the Conrad’s ‘parking lot’. That would be a sight to behold!

  • I am in for a protest.

    You know, I thought that valet stand on Illinois when the trail was under construction worked really well and I was hoping it would remain that way.

    I’ve tweeted City-County Councillors with a link here so hopefully some of them will see that people are really unhappy about the situation. I would encourage others to do the same.

  • Thanks for writing this. This is a huge irritation of mine too. Every time I rode past the Conrad last summer, I had to swerve into oncoming traffic to get around the parked cars. Now to hear the Alexander is blocking the sidewalks too with vehicles … grr. Just had a Twitter convo with others who are bothered by it — we are not alone!

  • Hey guys not to be sarcastic about the conrad issue, But this hotel has put and made indy, a big shot town where many of the alete stay and the city knows this , and so it’s pretty much a hands off deal, and as far as they,er concerned they can ride around the parked cars , And yes thoes cars are of people that are putting big money into the city of indy.,So give the conrad a break please. and besides go to any other city big or good sized and ya,ll see the same thing, And besides unlike yesteryear many cities across america broke or not have gone out of their way to provide cool looking bike lanes for the bikers to enjoy , so chill out over a flaw here and thear, you know as well as i not all is perfict in this world of ours. tony jackson Indy.

    • Tony,

      I respectfully disagree with your point. It can be said that those who stay in the Conrad do posess a high level of income and probably a fair amount of political influence. That being said, these are generally people/corporations who receive the subsidies and tax breaks from the city.

      Additionally, the Cultural Trail is not a fun little pre-school ammenity. The CT is a “world-class” piece of infrastructure to allow a dedicated space for cyclists and pedestrians to commute, recreate and frequent the many businesses and institutions that front the trail. I would argue the investment by the people using the trail far exceeds the few who block the trail.

  • To say that because the Conrad brings in big money justifies their blatant disregard for the public realm is ludicrous. This is a world class amenity and should be treated with respect. That’s not to say that they couldn’t have valet parking. Indeed, Illinois street could accommodate it. I’m all in for a protest!

  • It appears that DCE is looking into it.

    Next step is to find email addresses for some Hilton execs and start sending them complaints.

    Finally, if you haven’t had a chance, be sure to look up the Conrad’s posting on Facebook about the Cultural Trail and be sure to call them out on their hypocrisy.

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