- Urban bicyclists in Indy ride almost exclusively on the sidewalks, even in traffic and road conditions that would allow a reasonably skilled rider to ride easily on the streets. "Vehicular cycling" seemed a virtually unknown concept.
- Only about 10% of the bicyclists that we saw wore helmets. We saw more helmet-wearing bicyclists within 5 minutes of returning to Louisville than we saw in 2 days in Indy.
- What little bicycle parking that we saw was sub-standard, not capable of holding a bicycle upright while allowing a U-lock to secure both the frame and front wheel. Most blocks had no bicycle parking at all, though one commercial parking garage had signs noting the availability of bike parking inside.
- Motorists actually obey crosswalks in Indianapolis. In three days, I don't remember one motor vehicle cutting off or threatening pedestrians or bicyclists in a crosswalk. This morning, on my bike ride to work in Louisville, I saw a construction truck with trailer roll through a red light rather than waiting for two pedestrians waiting to cross legally in a crosswalk. We never saw anything remotely like that in Indianapolis.
- Pedestrians in Indy respect the crossing signals, for the most part. Even when crossing against a "don't walk" signal, they waited until no moving traffic was within a block.
- Though we noticed some urban chic single-speed/fixed gear bikes, we saw no devil-may-care high-speed lawless bicyclists. Even the pair of young men riding single-speeds delivering sandwiches for a local shop rode in a pretty mellow way, slowing respectfully for pedestrians.
- We saw zero bike lanes, bike route signs, or multi-use paths. The Monon Trail ends several blocks from downtown, and there was no visible indication that anyone was working to make bicycling safer or easier than ordinary downtown streets would allow.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Indy and Louisville: interesting contrasts
I spent the weekend in downtown Indianapolis attending a conference. Indy seemed halfway between Louisville and Chicago in architecture, sports, and urban liveliness, but not in transportation. Here are some of the differences between Louisville and Indianapolis that made an impression on me and my wife. We didn't ride bicycles in Indianapolis, but walked quite a bit.