Remixing East 52nd Street

The running center turn lane on East 52nd Street (and many other streets around town) is a monument to traffic engineering winning over everything else:

Screen shot 2016-08-30 at 10.01.40 AM
Source: Google Maps

This configuration has bugged me for years. There is an unprotected bike lane, yes, but also a very narrow sidewalk with poles in the middle of it. I decided to see what else could be done with only 48 feet of right-of-way width, as shown below:

52nd cut

There’s a great tool for this task on the web called Streetmix. It enables citizens to imagine different street configurations. There were a number of constraints that I worked with:

  • 10 foot travel lane width in each direction. It allows you to go lower than that, but I doubt if Indy would build a street.
  • No Center turn lane! This frees up the space I need for other items.
  • Protecting the bike lanes with just a foot of buffer is better than nothing.
  • Trees and streetlights are needed
  • 6 foot sidewalks! Streetmix doesn’t recommend sidewalks smaller than that. Obviously the current 52nd Street sidewalk is closer to 3 feet.
  • What about buses? They currently mix with traffic and probably block the bike lanes when they stop. Now they’ll need to stay in the travel lane. Boarding situations will not be ideal with passengers crossing the bike lanes, but that’s likely already happening in some way.
  • Street mix also allows you to edit the buildings on the side. 4 story mixed use buildings are the default, but I put in more traditional single family houses.
  • I had to drop a few things I wanted, like a boulevard median between the travel lanes, or any bus shelters, but for the most part I think this is pretty realistic:

Screen shot 2016-08-30 at 9.57.47 AM

There are probably other fun configurations out there. Feel free to post them in the comments, if you end up playing around with Streetmix.

Comments 13

  • I like it, not sure about your plantings in the sharrow though, they appear to jut into both bike and driving lanes a bit, there a reason you didn’t make the left bike lane green? We should do this for some other streets in indy and show the potential they have.

  • What is the ROW width in the area from Meridian to College? It appears to only be 2 lanes each way. Would this configuration be able to carry on very far?

    • It could probably serve between College and Kessler, as it does currently. It does appear even narrower to the west of College. But there are some spots for parked cars instead of a bike lanes there.

  • This looks great. Speaking for the stretch bw College and Keystone, the biggest problem is the combination of high speed and beat up streets. It’s terribly dangerous.
    Regarding the bike lane, I ride to work every day and will never ride on those bike lanes (getting hit once was enough for me). Eliminating the center turn lane would be a great way to slow down traffic, and so would a small barrier for the bike lane.
    Regarding bus routes, city buses already block both car traffic and the bike lanes, and kids have to cross the street to get on school buses.

  • how do we share photos on here? or do we just need to share links to other streetmixes?

  • 52nd St currently has a 50 ft R/W from College to Keystone. The typical section is a 4.5′ sidewalk, 0.5′ 6″ curb, 5′ bike lane, 10′ through lanes, and a 10′ center turn lane. So, that gives you 2′ extra to play with.

    I think it’s unlikely you’ll see planters in the street on a Major Collector like 52nd St. Without a turn lane, a 3′ hatched buffer would be the most realistic best possible scenario.


    Prospect St East of State St. Rather than it being a very wide 2 lane road (where people go 60) with implied parking on the sides.

    Prospect West of State st. Similar to mass ave only with more landscaping and a little more elbow room. The bike lane on the right of both would connect to the cultural trail at shelby/virginia/prospect. More parking with the perp/semi perp parking to quell any nimby whining about lack there of. Plus it would slow traffic on a road that makes it easy for people to speed.

  • 52nd st bike lanes need to extend all the way east to Allisonville. That stretch from Allsionville west to Keystone is narrow and NO sidewalk or cycling room in either direction.

  • I will take some issue, as I remember when 52nd (and 46th, too) used to be a “4-lane death road”, similar to Kessler Blvd. between the Monon and Keystone.

    Without moving the curbs, sidewalks, or storm drains, DPW accomplished a street-calming with just re-striping when they changed 52nd to the current 1-1-1 with bike lane configuration; they did invest some money in a respite island for the Monon where 52nd transitions from one lane each way to the 1-1-1.

    Absent major funding for a total rebuild, I think the current configuration represents a “half a loaf” improvement from the previous 2-2: bike lane plus traffic calming plus auto and pedestrian safety improvement from the previous design.

  • A properly engineered street will also take into account the total number of vehicles using it, as well as the types of vehicles using it (i.e., will large industrial-use multi-axle trucks still be allowed, because if they are the 10′ lanes may be problematic). Also planners need to understand traffic flow onto and from the street from the side (more traffic signals may be required to allow vehicles to turn left from the single lane, or for vehicles to turn left onto the traffic lane from side streets).

    • Your comment reminds me of one thing I left out: transit agency people have told me that the width of a city bus, mirror to mirror, is typically just under 10 feet. So streets with buslines need extra width or buffers, especially where a bike lane is next to the vehicle lane buses run in.

  • Hi Kevin, Your design is very similar to Grant Street in Ogden. The promenade includes protected bike lanes and separate sidewalks. The previous street had a center turn lane. There’s a picture posted at

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