Column: Paths should be added to Carmel’s major thoroughfares

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So lemme get this straight. The Carmel City Council is under fire for a new rule which would require “multi-use paths” along major arteries, such as 116th Street, Range Line Road, and (I would hope) 126th Street.

These multi-use paths would take the place of bike lanes accompanied by traditional sidewalks. Picture Monon Trails along each major thoroughfare in town. Bicyclers, joggers and dog walkers would share the paths, and (presumably) stay off the streets.

But apparently some homeowners are complaining that multi-use paths would run through their front yards.

I don’t live on a major artery, but I understand the homeowners’ complaint. Still, I have to think any effort to remove bicyclers from our streets should be applauded.

In fact, I’d take the initiative one step further. I’d require cyclers to stay off those streets which have accompanying multi-use paths. I can’t tell you how many times rush hour traffic along Hazel Dell Parkway has come to an abrupt stop because some bicycler refused to use the wide bike paths (provided by the city, using our taxes) on either side of the road.

The “serious” cyclers will complain that they don’t want to share the bike paths with walkers, joggers and “casual” cyclers. My response is always, “So you use the street instead?”

Eventually, a cycler is going to be hit by a vehicle, in what could only be described as a very preventable accident.

I rarely drive the streets of West Carmel, but recently I was returning from an activity at Creekside Middle School along busy West 131st Street. Traffic plodded so slowly I thought there was road construction ahead. Instead, I saw a bicycler taking up just enough of the travel lane that eastbound cars were forced to dart around him in between the oncoming westbound vehicles.

And there was an unused bike path right next to him!

Now I understand that cyclers prefer to use the road when there is no bike path available. Try to envision a bicycler using the narrow sidewalk along East 126th Street at the Cool Creek bridge.

I get that.

But what if the city were to build a multi-use path along 126th Street? And then require that cyclers use it? Our streets would be safer, and so would our cyclers.

A good wide multi-use path is almost a no-brainer along 116th Street east of Keystone Parkway. This is the one section of 116th Street which is not a four-lane road. Even in busy downtown Fishers, 116th Street is four lanes. Given the amount of traffic 116th carries, I would think this stretch of roadway would already be four lanes wide without bike lanes.

Instead, we have just one lane in each direction, with bike lanes. And if traffic backs up behind a slow dump truck, at least the cyclers have a lane to use.

Let’s change this now!

Remember the flack Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard took when he removed a traffic lane in each direction along Broad Ripple Avenue so that bike lanes could be added? We don’t want that in Carmel. Our city is new enough, and our streets have enough room, that multi-use paths can, and should, be added to each major thoroughfare.

Sure, they’ll eat up a little bit of some front yards, but then homeowners who bought property along major streets had to have known something like this (either a widening of the street or the addition of a wider sidewalk/bike-path) would eventually occur.

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4 Comments

  1. Cyclists on sidewalks and side paths are dangerous. I am a serious cyclist and when you are pedaling at 30mph and keeping up with traffic, you have no right (its illegal in fact) for a cyclist on a sidewalk. The amount of turn ins and out of neighborhoods and cross streets is actually where frequent accidents happen. Integrating with pedestrians at those speeds is potentially deadly as well. Look at the cyclists on the monon who buzz people and split two way traffic.

    Cyclists should not be banned from streets as that would be regressive instead of a progressive move for the city. Go to other cities with thriving and growing cycling populations, you will see how cars and bikes can co-exist. It requires a change in thinking that bikes are just for recreation. They are for commuting. They are for grocery runs. They are for trips with the family to dinner. Cyclists contribute to increase to sales in areas:
    http://momentummag.com/features/how-bicycles-bring-business-the-infographic/ – Monon is even referenced in this national infographic.

    http://momentummag.com/features/how-bicycles-bring-business/ – Article

    Cities are clamoring for bike share programs (indianapolis even has one), they are adding cycle tracks to roads. They are integrating bikes into daily life.

    If it goes that way, then take down the cycling friendly signs move the infrastructure to Indianapolis and crown Ballard as the proper king of cycling in central Indiana.

    “Eventually, a cycler is going to be hit by a vehicle, in what could only be described as a very preventable accident.”

    Yes, just like the bus turning in front of the cyclist on 71st street at ditch this past week. Exactly. If cars treated cyclists as users of the road instead of someone who causes 30 second delays in commutes, then we could all get along. Would you turn in front of a car? Would you plead “I didn’t see him”? Or would you stop for a second and pay attention to surroundings while piloting 2 ton missiles?

    Cyclists can no longer pass stopped traffic on the right to eliminate a 1 or 2 mile backup of traffic even if they wanted. There are only a few cities (Portland example) that allow this, but having a bike lane DOES allow for a cyclist to pass.

    I sound like a elitist cyclist. I love cars, I love motor racing. I cycle as much as I can. I commute, I run errands. I moved to Carmel because of the bike friendly atmosphere and bike lanes and accessibility. If I wanted to to be run off the road by trucks or screamed at people to get off the road, I would have moved to any surrounding community.

    I have only been seriously cycling for 12 years now (professional bike courier delivery as well), but in that time, I feel much safer when traveling with traffic in busy areas when i am really pressing speed and commuting. When I am leisurely cycling, i hop on the multi use path because my speed is slower. These are acceptable for slower cyclists, but as we get more and more commuters, safely integrating and changing people’s mentalities will go a much further in coexisting.

    Indianapolis and Indiana has traditionally been a car centric city. More land and roads allowing for sprawl rather than urban development. It also had been traditionally associated with close minded mentalities (cycling aside) that has caused our brain drain to occur. Brainard frequently cites the oceans, mountains, and nice weather that other cities offer. If you want to raise a family, Indiana and Carmel are great. If you are a young professional looking to have fun and enjoy life, Colorado, Oregon, California, East Coast all provide more exciting opportunities. Thank goodness for the Silicon Valley of Indiana on US31.

    Let’s accept changes and embrace transportation rather than stifling some things that have made our city great and forward thinking and consistently one of the best cities in the US to live in…

  2. I, too, am a cyclist. If the bike path is available on the main street, then use it. Perhaps issuing traffic tickets to violaters would motivate them to change.

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