To improve safety, Indy installs new kind of bike lanes

Protected bike lanes are going in around Indianapolis. (WISH Photo/Howard Monroe)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A local bicycling advocacy group says Indianapolis is joining a national trend by building protected bike lanes.

The lanes create a buffer zone between vehicle traffic and the bicyclists.

The city’s newest is on Pennsylvania Street between St. Clair and Michigan streets in downtown.

Instead of bicyclists traveling right next to vehicle traffic, they’re now protected by parked cars.

“I’ll ride on about any road, but I have to be honest with you, it does feel a lot better riding when you know there’s a parked car on one side of you,” said Kevin Whited, the executive director of Indianapolis Bicycle Community Advocacy Group (IndyCOG).

It’s the first time the city is using this type of protected bike lane configuration.

“It’s kind of a joke amongst the bicycle community where we buffer parked cars with our bodies, because of how the bike lanes run on the outside of the parked cars, so they just flip them around and park the cars on the outside and now the parked cars are protecting the bicyclists,” said Whited.

Whited says these lanes reduce risk of injury to bicyclists by up to 90%.

“There’s a level of comfort. If you make bike lanes that people feel safe riding, people will ride at a much higher rate,” Whited said.

“The bike lane is sweet, for sure,” said Matthew Stephens as he rode his bike in the new lane.

The city installed its first bike lane four years ago in Fountain Square. At that location, they built a curb.

“By having those protected bike lanes in place it provides a more inviting option that is perceived as safer for bicyclists,” said Scott Manning of the city’s Department of Public Works.

In addition to safety, bicyclists say it eases tension between them and drivers.

“The drivers are cool, but we get on their nerves sometimes, you know, so this kind of separates us and makes both parties a little happier, I think,” said Stephens.

IndyCog helped the city secure a $20,000 thousand grant from the group People for Bikes to build the lanes.

IndyCog says another bike lane like this one will also be built on New York and Michigan Streets in the months to come.

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