Connecting Indiana bike trails has support, lacks cash

A person rides on the Monon Trail. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — We’re a step closer to connecting Indiana’s bicycle paths.

It is something the state’s Bicycle Trails Task Force started working on earlier this year.

Evan Ballard walks the Monon Trail at least twice a week.

“I like it more than the sidewalk just because it’s a bit more peaceful, especially up across the river and through the woods,” he said.

Indiana has more than 1,500 miles of bicycle paths, but much of it isn’t connected.

That is why the Bicycle Trails Task Force met Wednesday. Its job is to think of ways to connect the state’s paths and figure out how to pay for it.

So, they created two subcommittees. One focuses on trail safety, including how to prevent cars from hitting bicyclists on the trails that run near roads. The other subcommittee examines how to fund the connection of the trails.

Kyle Hannon, the task force chairman said, “How do you pay for these trails? Nobody has bags of cash sitting around to pay for more trails.”

As it stands today, each community is responsible for taking care of its own bike trails. So, it is still too early to know even ballpark cost to connect the trails.

Plus, state Rep. Wes Culver, a Republican from Goshen, said the task force has no money and got no state funding.

“There’s a lot of private ways we can look at funding,” Culver said. “Whether people sponsor a mile, whether it’s a hospital or a financial institution. We’re looking at creative ways that it doesn’t have to depend on government financing.”

The Monon walker, Ballard said he likes the idea; however, would be willing to pay to connect Indiana’s trails as a taxpayer?

“Not with the way taxes are currently going,” he said.

Others on the trail had their own thoughts about connecting bike paths statewide.

Simon Hunter, who also uses the Monon Trail, said, “I think the concept is awesome but I would have to know how much it’s going to cost to do that.”

The next meeting is March 21.