Looking at Safety from a Pedestrian’s Eye

An important note: Urban Indy is planning on providing weekly construction updates for the Red Line. If you have any construction photos to share, please let me know at kevin dot kastner at gmail dot com.

Construction has started in my neck of the woods for the Red Line Bus Rapid Transit project. With all construction projects, there will be adjustments to be made. However, some who are opposed are putting up an effort on opposing the line, arguing that the dedicated bus line will hurt response times of emergency vehicles.

Image Credit: WRTV-6

Actually, safety must be an option right now. If you’ve ever tried to cross College Avenue on foot with 2 kids in tow, it does not feel safe at all. Changing the street to allow for fewer speeders seems like it has to make the street safer. Plus, I’ve witnessed a wreck at 54th and College. Wrecks are commonplace along the corridor. It’s just not a safe street. I’d guess that a good portion of the emergency vehicles on the street are responding to the wrecks that the current street design basically encourages.

Postscript: Friend of the blog Justin Harter put up a good post on the subject, and I encourage others to read it.


Comments 28

  • Agree with Justin, there are plenty of legitimate criticisms without this nonsense.

    > cross College Avenue on foot with 2 kids in tow

    Good point Kevin! I haven’t seen much info on how the redesign improves crossings at the major intersections, such as the 54th & College one you mention. Anyone have info? Last I read, street width was the same, and the major intersections ARE NOT receiving any sort of curb extensions to shorten crossing distance from what it is today.

    Fingers crossed that reconfiguration slows traffic a bit at least.

    There used to be a detailed plan map overlaid on Google Maps, but I can’t find it anymore.

  • 18th St and sidewalks are being redone, but they put utility poles right in middle of sidewalk.

  • Here are some safety concerns from neighbors (from redlinerealfacts.org):

    Single-lane traffic forces cars to cut through adjacent neighborhoods•DPW’s Traffic analysis states cut-through drivers will choose Central, Washington, and Pennsylvania, as many as 10,000 more cars/day. (Central has 2,000 cars/day pre-Red Line.)

    •No traffic impact studies ever conducted on nearby neighborhoods

    •Center-lane station design requires 3 lanes of College Ave. — creates unsafe mid-block access by pedestrians at stations (Kessler, 54th, 52nd, 38th)

    •Bus-only lane makes downtown trip only 3-5 minutes faster than bus in mixed traffic (bus stops only 6 times on College with dedicated lane: Broad Ripple Ave., Kessler, 54th, 52nd, 46th, 38th)

    •Traffic analysis predicts the worst traffic snarls daily on College at Kessler, 54th and 52nd streets.(Level of service deterioration to worst possible “E/F” vs. “C” now)

    •Loss of 30% of parking on College – FOREVER, not only for construction period

    •Devastating to homeowners on residential College Ave.

    •Devastating to businesses at commercial nodes

    •Businesses already experiencing loss of customers•“Loading Zones” are insufficient and dangerous

    •13 intersections between 38th and Broad Ripple Ave. restrict left turns

    •No coherent plan for emergency vehicle response.

    The main objection is to the dedicated lane, which is completely unnecessary. There is no rational reason why curbside pick up would not work. IndyGo has NO plan in place for how trash pickup will happen. Trash trucks will need to block the only lane, which will cause back ups and diversion to side streets.

    No studies on the additional air pollution due to stalled traffic idling for long periods.

    The plan for emergency vehicles assumes that the 60-ft. articulated buses will be able to immediately move into a vehicular traffic lane upon the approach of an emergency vehicle from the front or rear. That assumption has no basis in fact. The delay in responding to a medical emergency could literally mean life or death for someone in a traffic accident, or suffering from a heart attack or acute asthma attack.

    • It seems you have not even read the Emergency Vehicle Procedure Plan

      • The so called “emergency plan” states that when an emergency vehicle approaches that the bus will stop!! What, that is a plan?? That is already required.

    • And the sky is falling.

    • Are you suggesting that fire trucks and ambulances can’t get to incidents on any of the streets in the city that already have only 1 lane in each direction? This is mostly hysterical nonsense.

      The only thing that could satisfy all these objections is to just not build the Red Line, which of course is the goal.

      • We have consistently advocated for doing away with the dedicated lane, which has always been the sticking point. Bus service can be improved without the dedicated lane. There is no reason why there couldn’t be curbside bus shelters with a kiosk to purchase tickets, like they have in San Francisco.

        And, contrary to IndyGo’s current lie that it would take 2 additional years and cost millions more in money, IndyGo NEVER considered any alternative. They pulled this argument out of their arse.

        And, Paul, IndyGo has never had a cogent plan for emergency vehicles, other than the assumption that the 60-ft. articulated bus could just move into an adjacent traffic lane. Living on College as I do, I can tell you that at evening rush hour, southbound traffic routinely backs up more than 2 blocks just for the 54th Street light. The same will be true for northbound traffic if a full lane of traffic is taken away. So, yes, if someone had a cardiac or breathing emergency, they could die if an ambulance got caught in traffic because of the dedicated lane.

      • No, it will just take longer. Does that not bother you??

        • Making all city streets speedways just for occasional emergency vehicles defeats this blog’s goal of better transit and walkable neighborhoods. The street itself creates more serious accidents whenever it’s wider and faster. This graphic from our blog’s past helps put this in perspective.

    • Why wouldn’t emergency vehicles just detour to Central or Broadway? Both are plenty wide and lightly traveled.

    • Good work, Karen, although no one on this website gives a hoot about safety if it interferes with their bikerbro/urban fetishist transit dream. Who cares if thousands of more cars are added daily to nearby residential streets as long as the coal powered clunker 60′ buses(see Albuquerque BYD lawsuit & Ch 6’s breaking news about IndyGo’s shady battery testing) with their handful of bus riders can use the trendy cool dedicated lane (fyi over 50% of the Red Line route elsewhere runs in mixed traffic/no dedicated lane). DPW sat on the Central Avenue traffic diversion analysis for 15 months and waited until the “accelerated” construction had begun to release it because they knew it was going to turn those neighborhoods into traffic sh*tshows after the Red Line is completed. People WENT to all those IndyGo info meetings and asked repeatedly for details on neighborhood traffic impacts and were brushed off, all while IndyGo/DPW knew those impacts were going to be bad. That DPW projection of 25%/10,000 cars a day diverted permanently into the surrounding residential neighborhoods doesn’t even take into account the Kessler/College intersection going to the lowest LoS possible (E/F)or when the Central Ave bridge at Fall Creek opens and the new two way traffic lane design brings even more vehicles down a residential street with 4 schools. But it’s all good because we’ll have fake transit with amazeballs center street bus stops and maybe in a couple years some electric buses. And really, those uncool people in their uncool houses who drive their uncool cars whose uncool kids walk to school are really just getting what they deserve, amirite?

      One quick thing though, don’t even try and impose any highway improvements for the “greater good” adjacent to Kevin Kastner’s neighborhood. No siree, because his property values will go down and there will be negative neighborhood impacts in that lovely downtown area. It’s a “non starter” and totally uncool.

      • Thanks for the positive feedback!

      • Where in god’s name did this “10,000 cars diverted from College” nonsense come from? INDOT’s vehicle count data for College states 15,067 average daily cars — it’s simply not believable that 10,000 of them would be diverted to surrounding streets.

        IndyGo states:

        “We anticipate roughly 2.5 percent of afternoon rush hour trips (those using the northbound lanes) being shifted off of College Avenue in favor of parallel north-south streets (Pennsylvania Ave., Meridian St., Washington Ave., and Central Ave.); this represents roughly 25 additional cars during the afternoon rush hour on each street.”

        25 cars/street over a 2 hour rush hour is about 1 additional car per street every 5 minutes. In other words, the change will be imperceptible.

        • I believe neither IndyGo nor the alarmist neighbors…the truth is going to be somewhere in the middle. Even a thousand cars divided between morning and evening rush would be noticeable on the side streets. Not horrible, but not insignificant. Now if people in the neighborhood would just stop driving their kids to IHM and 84 there would be less traffic on 57th and Central. 95% of the streets in the immediate area in MK have sidewalks on both sides…

          • I agree. While the “concerned neighbor” numbers have no basis in reality, my gut says the IndyGo projections feel low. But they could be off by a factor of 5 and that would still be a single car per minute diverted to those 4 streets. I drive fairly regularly on these MK streets during rush hour (Penn and Central in particular) and a shift from 4-5 cars/minute to 5-6 cars/minute is not a change that warrants the neighbors’ histrionics about capacity and safety.

            Note that IndyGo only expects diversion during evening rush hour. That makes sense given that southbound capacity on College is expected to increase due to the addition of turn boxes and buses being moved into the dedicated lane.

        • It came from IndyGo.

  • I live on Central. So far, there is no traffic apocalypse. Sure, there’s an uptick during rush hour. For the most part, people are taking it in stride.

    • More of those speed tables everywhere please. Those seem to be effective at lowering traffic speeds. I wonder what it costs to install.

      • A whole lot when they have to be reinstalled every time a snowplow takes them out.

        I am guilty of driving up Central from 52nd to Westfield last night to avoid College, so I got the speed humps for the first time. No big deal. And at 6:30pm, traffic was as light as I ever saw it when I lived on that stretch of Central.

  • Guess they didn’t appreciate my December ’18 article in which I interviewed first responders with IEMS and IFD to see if they anticipated any problems

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