Pedestrian safety group wants politicians to improve street safety
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Roughly two people are hit by cars daily in Indianapolis, according to numbers compiled by the Indy Pedestrian Bicyclist Safety Crisis group.
Now, the group wants to know what candidates for city government are going to do about it.
Aaron Short is a bicycle mechanic who fixes bikes after people get in accidents with cars. “At least every two weeks, we see at least one.”
In 18 years of fixing bikes, Short has seen a range of injuries. “I’ve seen it as bad as death to casts, broken bones, broken bikes.”
The problem isn’t just bikes.
According to Indy Pedestrian Bicyclist Safety Crisis group, pedestrians and bikes were hit 453 times in 2022. Of those, 43 were deadly.
So far in 2023, the city has had 68 incidents with five deaths.
When Short sees those numbers, he said that he thinks about “a way to try and make it better.”
That’s one reason the pedestrian advocacy group sent questionnaires to every candidate running for city office, to see what they would do to improve safety.
Short told I-Team 8 he has some ideas of his own that he says would improve both pedestrian and biker safety on the roads. “I think sidewalks would be huge. Stop signs at all those Monon (trail) crossings, because a lot of time people just blow right through them.”
Short says he and other pedestrians will care how candidates respond to the questionnaires.
“I think it’s huge., especially with working with it. I hate seeing people get hurt and then them lose their bike, or a hit-and-run, you know? I would care greatly about it to make sure people are getting taken care of.”
The Indy Pedestrian Bicyclist Safety Crisis group is compiling the answers to the questionnaires from candidates. The deadline for candidates to respond is March 24.
Meanwhile, I-Team 8 reached out to several Indianapolis candidates.
“Mayor Joe is aware of the Indy Bike and Pedestrian Safety group, and appreciates the advocacy of community members more broadly about the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. Mayor Joe shares their concerns, and is committed to addressing the alarming trend of increased incidents and deaths. We do plan on responding to the questionnaire.”
A spokesperson for Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, a Democrat seeking reelection
“The simple fact is that nearly 2,000 miles of our roads in Indianapolis don’t have sidewalks, which means kids walking to the park or men and women trying to catch the bus to work end up having to walk in the road. I will be unveiling a bold new plan in the coming weeks to install miles of badly needed public sidewalks across Indianapolis and adopting a citywide safe sidewalks plan – particularly in neighborhoods and along school bus routes. I will also have plans to better protect cyclists in Indianapolis.”
State Rep. Robin Shackleford, a Democrat who is running for mayor of Indianapolis
“This issue combines two areas of our campaign platform, public safety and public works. Citizens should not have to worry when they go for a walk or bike ride. Part of my plan includes working with the legislature to dedicate a penny from either the sales tax on gasoline or gas tax to improve streets and sidewalks, so pedestrians and cyclists don’t have to worry while they are out and about. In addition, we should step up our efforts to apply for federal funding also to help alleviate the problem and make our streets, lanes and sidewalks safer.
“And beyond ensuring we have the safe infrastructure to support pedestrians and cyclists, habitual traffic offenders must be taken seriously – all too often, the one behind the wheel in these situations is a driver with a history of DUIs and other traffic violations. I will use the mayor’s office to build bridges between public safety and criminal justice stakeholders and advocate for meaningful accountability for those who have demonstrated a dangerous recklessness that jeopardizes our pedestrians and cyclists.”
Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, a Republican running for mayor of Indianapolis
“Pedestrian and cyclist safety is a concern that the Council shares with our constituents and my colleagues and I are committed to ensuring that our city streets are safe for everyone. That is why in June 2022, we passed Proposal 175, 2022, which updated the City’s ‘complete streets’ ordinance. Some of the updates included enhanced transparency in the planning process, more accountability, and the establishment of the Fatal Crash Review Team. We also worked with Mayor Hogsett to approve $443 million for 2023 capital projects for the Department of Public Works, which includes funding for new sidewalks, upgrades to new sidewalks, and trails like Pogues Run Trail and Nickel Plate Trail. One of the city’s largest on-street bicycle infrastructure projects will soon be taking place in my district on West Michigan Street. This will include improved sidewalks, reduced travel lanes, and better connectivity, which the area has historically not seen before. Everyone deserves to make it safely to their next destination, whether they are carpooling, riding their bike, walking, or taking the bus. I look forward to continuing to engage with constituents regarding pedestrian safety.”
Vop Osili, president of the Indianapolis City-County Council and a Democrat seeking reelection to the council
“As a commuter that cycles to work most days, safety and infrastructure are at the forefront of my vision. As someone who helps parent two young children that don’t even have sidewalks reaching the school they attend, I have to ask how this happened in our city.
I have volunteered and led events for the most prominent cycling activist group in town, BikeParty Indianapolis. We see the streets up close. We have to plan safe routes to take people through the city, as the streets are unsafe.
As a board member of the Citizens Alliance for Public Safety, I speak to officers, and they feel this administration has restricted them from doing the policing that should be done to keep the roads safe.
We need protected bike lanes, we need sidewalks for every school and to fix the crumbling infrastructure in the neighborhoods most other politicians won’t step into. We need to empower officers to enforce the rules of the road and make it clear that unsafe driving will result in not only tickets but vehicles being taken away from repeat offenders.
We can do this simply by allocating the money we have now by planning better and requiring accountability from the Department of Public Works.”
Clifford Marsiglio, a Democrat who is running for mayor of Indianapolis