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Indianapolis looks to address pedestrian safety with 'Vision Zero' plan

Councilors Andy Nielsen and John Barth plan to present a Vision Zero plan to the council in the coming months.
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Posted at 6:31 PM, May 16, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS — Many Indianapolis pedestrians and cyclists have been growingly concerned with road safety in the city.

Connie Szabo Schmucker says she rides her bike around 4,500 miles a year.

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“It's a problem that's been getting worse since 2015,” Schmucker said.

According to data from The Metropolitan Planning Organization, from 2016 to 2019, the City of Indianapolis recorded 345 fatal crashes.

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459 crashes reportedly involved either a cyclist or a pedestrian.

Over the past three years, there have been 519 fatalities and 831 collisions involving a pedestrian or cyclist.

Indianapolis Department of Public Works acknowledged the increase in crashes in the following statement provided to WRTV:

Over the last several years, Indy DPW has been proactive in responding to the changes we have seen in how our residents travel since the COVID-19 pandemic – namely the uptick in selfish and reckless driver behavior that has occurred alongside an increase in residents embracing multi-modal forms of travel. The department has been working on implementing Complete Streets in our project designs, instituted the Fatal Crash Review Team into our data analysis and processes, and engaged with and empowered our neighbors through our Tactical Urbanism and Art in the Right-of-Way policies. All while investing millions of dollars in infrastructure projects that improve safety for pedestrians, bikers, and drivers alike despite our city’s road funding challenges.
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Schmucker feels the roads are not built to include cyclists.

“A lot of it is not having really wide, straight roads and no crossings whatsoever,” Schmucker explained. “That just invites motorists to go faster and it makes it harder for pedestrians and bicyclists to cross.”

In the next few months, City County Councilors John Barth and Andy Nielsen are looking to endorse a new Vision Zero plan.

“Vision Zero is a broad policy goal that establishes a framework to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious bodily injury, all while moving towards a safer, more equitable mobility for all individuals in our city,” Nielsen said.

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Additional pedestrian safety measures could be coming to Indy

The program will be similar to what other cities have found success using.

“A number of cities across the country, from cities much larger than ours and cities much smaller, have established a Vision Zero plans,” Nielsen said. “Vision or action plans with the same goal have seen demonstrated success.”

Schmucker has seen similar plans fail in the past, yet she is hopeful the council takes steps necessary to make Indy safer for all travelers.

“If you say that safety is your number one priority, it should be reflected in the budget that this is the number one priority,” Schmucker said. “What Vision Zero does is it gives the framework in order to do that.”

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A spokesperson from IMPD encourages all motorists to share the road and that safe driving and biking can save lives.

“We want folks to be careful taking those extra steps. Take your time wherever to make it to your destination safely,” IMPD PIO William Young said. “What it boils down to is being patient. We want our drivers to be patient, share the roadways with not just our pedestrians, but our bicyclists as well and always obey all traffic laws.”

The full statement from Indy DPW is as follows:

Over the last several years, Indy DPW has been proactive in responding to the changes we have seen in how our residents travel since the COVID-19 pandemic – namely the uptick in selfish and reckless driver behavior that has occurred alongside an increase in residents embracing multi-modal forms of travel. The department has been working on implementing Complete Streets in our project designs, instituted the Fatal Crash Review Team into our data analysis and processes, and engaged with and empowered our neighbors through our Tactical Urbanism and Art in the Right-of-Way policies. All while investing millions of dollars in infrastructure projects that improve safety for pedestrians, bikers, and drivers alike despite our city’s road funding challenges.

Early last year, Indy DPW began reviewing Vision Zero from an implementation perspective. Conversations have continued recently with the City-County Council following the launch of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization's Vision Zero toolkit. The Department has even worked with the MPO to issue an RFP for a Vision Zero Study for the City of Indianapolis.

The City has and will continue to prioritize the safety of all of our road users. We look forward to continuing to work with the City-County Council on these initiatives.