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Indy cyclists urge drivers to stop parking in bike lanes, citing safety concerns, legality

Posted at 11:47 PM, Apr 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-23 10:03:52-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Jarron Burdine rides his bike to work almost every day, and he runs into problems on his commute a lot.

Burdine encounters bike lane obstructions, mostly parked cars, almost every day.

"It's a lack of compassion for people who are not inside a vehicle," he said.

According to Marion County Municipal Code, drivers can't drive in a lane marked for bicycles. Drivers also can't park or stand a car in a bike lane, or in a way that impedes bike traffic. A vehicle in violation of these rules could be towed.

"If a car is parked here, you have to go on the other side, where the cars are driving, and they're not expecting you to be there, and it's kinda hard to see sometimes, and so you're weaving, and it only takes one split second of bad driving before someone's life is changed forever," said Burdine.

Burdine began documenting the problem a year ago. He posts pictures on his Twitter feed: @IndyBikeLanes. He's not the only one taking photos.

"We do this every day, there's almost a post every day," he said.

Burdine also sends the images to Bike Lane Uprising, a website that uses technology to track cycling hazards across the country. Bikers have uploaded hundreds of pictures of the Circle City.

The obstructions can be anything — snow, potholes, and even municipal vehicles. Burdine doesn't believe that area drivers are parking in the bike lane intentionally, but it's all illegal.

Cars in bike lane
car parked in bike lane

"Whether it's the person being ignorant of what's going on, maybe the paint isn't right or something like that, versus someone just going out of their way to be a jerk," said Burdine.

A stretch of Pennsylvania Street downtown is a hotspot on Bike Lane Uprising's website. Those who live in the area say the road markings are to blame.

"I see a path of confusing lines that I wouldn't feel comfortable parking in," said Evan Myers, who lives nearby.

Myers and his wife Kelsey Vaught-Myers say they see people driving and parking in the wrong part of Penn all the time. The bike lane is against the curb, then there's a lane for parked cars, then two driving lanes beyond that. But the lines are so faded and the signage is sparse, so many drivers say they're confused.

"They're not doing it on purpose. There's just no way to tell what's for bikes and what's for cars," said Vaught-Myers.

Burdine said he has made reports to the city many times, asking for more protected bike lanes, like the ones in Illinois.

"We're just trying to find someone in local government who cares about pedestrians," said Burdine.

WRTV submitted a request to the city for a list of all bike lane obstruction complaints and is waiting to hear back.

An IMPD spokesperson, in a phone call, recommended that cyclists file their complaints in the "Traffic Complaints" portal on the city's website. He also warned drivers to take extra precautions to watch for cyclists and pedestrians, especially as we get into the warmer months.