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Bicyclists say infrastructure changes needed in Indianapolis to keep them safe

Biyclists riding Shelby Street bike lane
Posted at 7:43 AM, Aug 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-24 07:44:24-04

INDIANAPOLIS — According to the National Safety Council, 1,260 bicyclists were killed in 2020, up 16% from the year before and an increase of 44% over the past decade.

Preliminary figures recently released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate cycling fatalities rose another 5% in 2021.

"I have to be really mindful when I'm riding my bike anywhere downtown. 'Are there cars coming? Do they see me?' Different things like that," Angela DeCamp, an avid cyclist, said.

DeCamp says the steep increase of cyclists being hit and killed by cars is alarming and shows something needs to be done beyond raising awareness

"Awareness is like a nebulous term for me. I think we're all aware there are people on the road, but I don't think we're really plugged in and trying to pay attention to that. That's what makes me nervous," she said.

DeCamp would like to see some changes to the bicycle infrastructure in the city.

"Anything that makes it easier for a driver to avoid a bike path. I think it's a good plan," she said.

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Brian Addelsberger is another cyclist who wants to see infrastructure changes that would make him feel safer going to different parts of the city.

"As many separated lanes we can make would be great," Addlesberger said. "Extending the Cultural Trail out to Irvington would really open up my willingness to ride out to Strange Bird, but right now, it's not safe enough to ride on the streets out there."

John Franklin Hay, another avid cyclist and the executive director for Near East Area Renewal, says there are plans in place to improve bicycle infrastructure in the city.

"Bicycle infrastructure, pedestrian infrastructure in high-density areas (and) urban area is just necessary if there's going to be a decrease in the number of accidents and fatalities," said Hay. "We are looking forward to the completion of streetscaping along 10th Street and Rural. Completion of the two-way conversion of New York and Michigan Street which will provide for pedestrian and bicycle safety," he said.

However, both projects won't be completed for some time. At the request of INDOT, 10th and Rural is on hold because of the North Split Construction. The New York and Michigan Street conversion is set to begin in the summer of 2023.

For now, cyclists will have to continue being careful, hoping drivers extend them the same courtesy.

The Indianapolis Department of Public works is receiving some criticism for removing concrete barriers along Shelby Street and putting up flex posts. When the concrete barriers were hit, DPW says, it was time-consuming to clean up. But cyclists felt like it was much safer.

DPW says talks are always ongoing on ways to best keep cyclists safe and future projects could address safety concerns.