3 bicycling groups in Indy fear accidents on rise

Local

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — There’s a problem on the road that has people in the bike community raising the alarms: It seems more people are getting hit and killed. 

Three separate central Indiana bike groups have come together to try to figure out how to fix what appears to be a problem that is not improving. Those groups include Bike Indianapolis, Bicycle Indiana and the Central Indiana Bicycling Association.

Members of all three groups talked about their love of biking and how Indianapolis has become more bike-friendly. But, they said, there’s another quick point of conversation. 

“The conversation doesn’t take long to turn to when’s the last time you almost got hit or when’s the last time you got hit,” said Damon Richards, the executive director of Bike Indianapolis.

Richards said he was nearly hit last month. He said he hears that from bikers in central Indiana more often. 

This year, there have been more memorials around Indianapolis for people who lost their lives in bike accidents.

“You can’t spray-paint a bike without thinking about the person who is no longer with us,” said Martha Hall, who helps place many of these memorials, which are called ghost bikes. 

One is at Standish Avenue and Shelby Street in Indianapolis, where Annastaisha Sandlin was killed when a driver hit her while she biked in June. 

“Getting bicyclist deaths to zero is not hard,” Richards said. “It’s about education. it’s a matter of enforcement.”

The three bike organizations want to schedule a meeting with Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office and personal injury attorneys to talk about better enforcement. But, nothing has been set. 

They also want state lawmakers to consider a bill to ban passing a biker within 3 feet. 

“If any other vehicles in the road, you have to change lanes to pass,” Richards said. 

Speeding, distracted driving and a need for more bike lanes are some of the challenges. Bicyclists said it’s also important for them to follow all the rules – riding the correct direction of the street and wearing proper gear when visibility may be low.

But, there’s another problem: Bicyclists don’t know how many people get hit or nearly hit. 

“I don’t come home and tell my wife about my ride, and she says, Oh, my god, you almost got killed,'” Richards said. 

He said unless there’s a police report, there’s no real hard data. And a lot of people don’t file police reports.

The biking community wants to change that. 

There’s a website, bikemaps.org, where you can report any incident or near-accident.

Richards said the hope is to get a better understanding about how widespread this problem is. It’s also to raise awareness to hopefully stop more accidents from happening.

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