Why is the city putting dedicated bike lanes on its streets when we already have the Monon Trail?
The Monon Trail has played a key role in the redevelopment of our City’s central core, helping to spur a certain vibrancy and economic boost in areas such City Center, the Arts & Design Center and most recently, Midtown. There is no question the Trail is used heavily by bicyclists, as well as pedestrians, to navigate their way to local events like the Carmel Farmers Market, our Late Night on Main Street concerts or just to see a show or grab a bite to eat.
“Because of its popularity, the Trail has also become very crowded…”
Because of its popularity, the Trail has also become very crowded as a mix of bikes – both high-speeders and casual riders – moms-and-strollers, dogs-and-leashes and runners, have prompted us to widen the Greenway in the Midtown area.
Meanwhile, bicyclists who use their bikes to get back and forth to work or the grocery store are increasingly abandoning the congestion of the Trail in favor of riding on the streets or pathways in Carmel. In order to make that transition a safer one for bicyclists, drivers and pedestrians, Carmel has added protected bike lanes on Range Line Road and we continue to explore other roadways to do the same.
As the central core continues to attract more residential projects and corporate workplaces, bringing hundreds more to the area on a daily basis, it’s important to give them options when it comes to transportation.
But there is another reason related to economic development. Having a bike-friendly community has become a major factor in a city’s ability to attract corporate headquarters and companies that pay good wages. We have been told that today’s younger workforce are choosing to live car-free for as long as possible as they start their work careers. They prefer to rely on a mix of bicycles, ride-sharing, Uber and available public transportation to get around. These are the young adults who are keeping our local economy strong by living and working here in Carmel.
Merchants also benefit by a bike path that is needed to bring shoppers closer to the merchants and shops in the Rangeline corridor. To put it another way, we would not want the auto traffic and the people in those autos who are potential customers … to be driving a block east or west of the entrances to the Rangeline shops and restaurants.
The old adage is, “Out of sight, out of mind.” The same holds true for the customers who are riding bikes as well. Merchants want them riding in front of their places of business, not a block west on the Monon Trail.
Authored by Laura Campbell, Ron Carter, Sue Finkam, Bruce Kimball, Kevin Rider and Jeff Worrell