I-Team 8

Bike riders says they are at risk as city replaces safety barriers on bike lane

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The City of Indianapolis has removed the concrete poles that were built into the concrete curb that kept bicyclist and walkers safe. The city has replaced them with a more flexible pole and one of them is already gone.  

“It’s kind of funny that the solution to cars hitting the protection is to remove the protection, I don’t know maybe people are more expendable than bollards.” Trevor Preddy said. Preddy says the message the city is sending by removing the concrete poles, which are technically called bollards, is bike riders’ safety is second to car drivers.   

“As a daily rider the most dangerous thing I encounter are cars, I’m a danger to myself and that is about where it ends, but I can’t help when somebody swerves in front of me or brake checks me. I have had people get violent with me with road rage just for existing on the road” Preddy said.

Getting off the road and onto a dedicated bike lane is a safe space for riders. The Shelby street bike lane attracts a lot of riders, partially due to the infrastructure that made up two lane paved path. Now that the concrete bollards have been removed by the city, he says it is just not as safe.  

“It’s a matter of how much our city cares to keep people like me safe. Gas prices are high it is cheap and fun, but instead people have to fear for their mortality every time they come out.” Preddy said. 

When the concrete bollards were first installed for visual delineation along portions of the corridor, “Indy DPW did not anticipate the damage that could be done to the protective curb if struck, nor the time-consuming maintenance required thereafter,” the Department of Public Works said.

After a car or bus hit one the bollards, they often were left leaning into the bike lane along with piles of concrete from the curb that held them in places. DPW says the new flexible poles are in line with national safety standards.   

Cameron Reid says, he moved to the Garfield Park area specifically to access the bike lane. He says he hasn’t owned a car in four years. 

“This was an important piece of infrastructure I picked for my commute and it is not as good as it used to be” Reid said. 

DPW reminds drivers using the Shelby street that their cars are much heavier than bicycles, and that they should obey the rules of the road. 

Department of Public works full statement: 

  • Concrete bollards previously in place along this bike lane are now being replaced during work to repair the protective concrete curb; these bollards will be replaced with reflective delineators (also called flex-posts). Repairs/replacements were scheduled for an opportune time while this portion of Shelby Street was already closed for an adjacent private project, and the work by Indy DPW contractor crews is expected to be complete by the end of this week. 
  • Indy DPW understands the concrete curb being repaired as the primary physical barrier that offers protection to cyclists using the bike lane. The bollards have previously served as a visual signal indicating the raised concrete curb separating the bike lane. The new delineators will accomplish the same visual signal. 
  • When concrete bollards of the past have been hit by vehicles, this has resulted in substantive damage to the protective curb, given the integrated concrete design. Bollards bent into the bike lane and concrete debris left after such a crash were unsafe for cyclists using the bike lane. The new reflective delineators will not damage the protective curb if they are similarly struck. 
  • Discussion around the best safety treatment for the Shelby Street bike lane has been iterative, though always in line with national standards for bicycle infrastructure. When the concrete bollards were first installed for visual delineation along portions of the corridor, Indy DPW did not anticipate the damage that could be done to the protective curb if struck, nor the time-consuming maintenance required thereafter. After this curb repair and flex-post installation work is complete, Indy DPW will continue to consider best practices for this bike lane; this could include the addition of more segments of protective curb along the corridor if this is feasible; using flex-posts at the entrances to curb-protected segments to deter motorists from entering the bike lane; and/or new designs as a part of future infrastructure improvement projects. 
  • As always, Indy DPW urges motorists using Shelby Street to understand their place as the larger, heavier, and much more dangerous mode of transportation on the roadway, capable of significant harm to themselves and more vulnerable road users if not driving according to the rules of the road.