What Happens When You Divert Bikeways From Commercial Streets?

Some of the streets around Indianapolis’s widely lauded Cultural Trail are seeing a development boom, while others are not.

Around Virginia Avenue, the Indianapolis Cultural Trail has helped give rise to a booming new neighborhood. Photo: Curtis Ailes
Around Virginia Avenue, the Indianapolis Cultural Trail is credited for catalyzing a development boom. Photo: Curtis Ailes

Kevin Kastner at UrbanIndy has a theory about why Virginia Avenue seems to be reaping huge benefits since the debut of the walking and biking trail, but no such change has come to Massachusetts Avenue:

Virginia Avenue is hopping with new developments. Each article and news report that is written about the renewed focus on the street has mentioned the Cultural Trail as major catalyst for the revitalization of the street. The Cultural Trail is parallel to the commercial district for almost the entire stretch, with the exception of the short jog it makes to enable easier crossing of East and South Streets.

Contrast this to how the trail zigs and zags in the city’s other major diagonal commercial district, Massachusetts Avenue.

The Cultural Trail planners went out of their way to preserve street parking along Mass Ave, which is perpendicular instead of parallel. But I have to wonder if the backers of the street shot itself in the foot a bit by housing the trail on peripheral low-trafficked streets and alleys, instead of creating a more direct link to downtown.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Riffing off recent stories in the New York Times, The Naked City wonders whether the Vision Zero approach pioneered in Sweden could make traffic deaths “go the way of smallpox” in the United States. NRDC’s Switchboard blog says the Senate’s six-year transportation bill represents “incremental” progress on U.S. transportation policy. And People for Bikes offers 14 different ways to make bike lanes better.

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