By Ashley Steeb
Editor’s note: This is the 10th in a series of stories about new laws that are taking effect, most of them on July 1.
INDIANAPOLIS — Richard Joseph tries to ride his bike as often as he can.
The 46-year-old IndyGo employee works downtown at two locations.
“It’s easier most days to bike between our locations,” he said, “and if I need to go further I grab a bus.”
Richard finds biking faster and more convenient than walking. For many bicyclists, getting around the downtown area got easier in recent years with the creation of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, which connects the city’s six cultural districts through a network of trails and bike lanes.
Now lawmakers are hoping that a newly created task force will find ways to connect more existing bike trails.
The Indiana Bicycle Trails Task Force, created by House Enrolled Act 1174, will develop plans and estimate the costs of connecting Indiana’s bike trails. The task force also will consider changes to current Indiana law about the safety of riding bikes on trails and roads. Task force members will be unpaid and appointed by the governor.
Data shows the trail had a $1 billion positive impact on property values in the downtown community.
Now the trail has moved beyond the original goal.
“It’s really become its own living and breathing thing, as a result,” said Kären Haley, executive director of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Inc. “We’ve got lots of art, nature and beauty, and eight acres of botanical gardens, and 500 new trees and forms of other art all along the trail. So, it’s much more than a way to get from Point A to Point B. It’s an experience in and of itself.”
A row of Pacers Bikeshare bicycles are lined up at the corner of Washington Street and Illinois Street. Photo by Eddie Drews, TheStatehouseFile.com
The Cultural Trail paved the way for the popular Pacers Bikeshare program. Visitors and downtown natives can easily enjoy the trail by renting a one of the 251 bright gold bikes stored at 29 different stations located across the city.
A report released by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics shows there are 2,655 bikeshare stations operating in 65 different cities across the country.
Joseph hopes the trails will begin to connect more than just bicyclists.
“I’d also like to see more of the bike trails, or more of the cultural trails in general be linked up with mass transit or public transit so they can be connectors to public transportation as well as for recreation,” he said.
The task force’s report about connecting bike trails must be sent to the governor and Legislative Services Agency no later than July 1, 2019.
Correction: A previous version of this story stated the cultural trail had a $1 million impact on nearby property values, when it has had a $1 billion impact. TheStatehouseFile.com apologizes for the mistake.
Ashley Steeb is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students. Eddie Drews contributed to this report.