Workers from Eli Lilly and Co. ride the Cultural Trail on company bikes. Photo by Jack Cebe.
Guest author Jack Cebe is a planner and designer with Alta Planning + Design in Chicago, a firm dedicated to creating active communities where bicycling and walking are safe, healthy, fun, and normal daily activities.
Last week, I traveled to Indianapolis to attend the National Association of City Transportation Officialsseventh Cities for Cycling Roadshow. The Roadshow gathers leaders in bicycling transportation from the country’s top bicycle-friendly cities to provide technical assistance for cities that have shown a dedication to improving cycling as a transportation option. It includes presentations and discussions with local political leaders, engineers, planners and advocates; and is intended to both offer encouragement and share knowledge with citizens and officials.
The two-day workshop was led by four nationally recognized experts in the design, planning, and advancement of livable communities: David Vega-Barachowitz, sustainable initiatives program manager with NACTO; Nicole Freedman, director of bicycle programs with the city of Boston; Robert Burchfield, city traffic engineer with the Portland Bureau of Transportation; and Mike Amsden, project manager with The Chicago Department of Transportation. Jamison Hutchins, Indianapolis bicycle coordinator, was the head organizer of the event.
On Thursday, the workshop began with a presentation to city government and transportation leaders. Indianapolis has implemented several world-class bicycle facilities and amenities such as the Cultural Trail separated bike lane network, Indy Bike Hub Bike parking centers, an extensive greenway network, and an upcoming bike-share system. The main message was that Indianapolis had already accomplished much of the hard work in striving to become a more bicycle-friendly city; now it’s time to go after the “low-hanging fruit” projects that will make the network more complete and encourage more people to ride.
An Indy Bike Hub parking center. Photo by John Greenfield.
Roadshow leaders identified that this is a pivotal moment for increasing biking in Indianapolis. Under Mayor Greg Ballard the city currently has strong leadership that understands the importance of cycling. While future administrations may not be as supportive of active transportation as current leaders, roadshow leaders offered encouragement by pointing out that it’s much easier to prevent transportation progress than to undo it, and if the programs you initiate now are successful, then subsequent leaders will be supportive of them.
Later that day, the Cities for Cycling Roadshow biked to the Indianapolis Department of Public Works for an afternoon workshop. The purpose of this seminar was to educate department planners and engineers on best practices for bicycle facility design, with a focus on advanced facilities and concepts such as cycle tracks, neighborhood greenways (also known as bike boulevards), intersection markings, and bike signalization. The Roadshow was met by a very welcoming and attentive audience. Around 40 staff members were in attendance, many who were asking questions and taking notes throughout the presentations. Lori Miser, director of IDPW and Andy Lutz, deputy director, emphasized throughout the workshop that bicycling accommodation is a priority for the department.