Red Line project calls for removal of Capitol Avenue bike lane

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Bicyclists learned how their daily rides will be impacted by the Red Line rapid transit project Monday. To make room for buses, project leaders say the city will have to lose some bike lanes.

IndyGo and IndyCog, a bicycle advocacy group, teamed up for an informational meeting at the City Market. People who use their bikes on a regular basis showed up to find out more about the rapid transit plans for the Circle City.

"We know city need mass transit," said Lauren Guidotti, an IndyCog board member. "But,  as someone who likes to commute around city on my bike any of these infra structure things are going to be important to us."

IndyGo staff presented details to a group of about two dozen people regarding the overall project and its affect on the cycling community. They said the bike lanes along Capitol Avenue downtown are set to be removed to make room for the buses that will run along the east side of the street.

"Mitigating that impact, we will be building a two-way cycling facility on Illinois which will provide some additional protection for cyclists," said Justin Stuehrenberg, Red Line project manager.

But, some in attendance at the meeting raised concerns about a two-way cycle track, like the one already on Pennsylvania Street.

One man even said he would cite the project managers if he ends up in traffic court.

"If you’re going against traffic, you want to make sure at intersection that people can see you," said Connie Szabo Schmucker, advocacy director for Bicycle Garage Indy.

"If we do two way cycle track, we are training cyclists to go against traffic and with bump-outs training them to drive kind of erratically to bump out into  lanes and to get out of the way at other points," said Jamey McPherson.

Cyclists who travel along Shelby Street will also notice changes in their route, according to the Red Line plan. Bike lanes near the Pleasant Run station will be replaced with "sharrows" which indicate the road is shared by cars and bikes.

"There is no perfect solution but will continue to work with advocates," Stuehrenberg said. "Ultimately, our goal is that this is net improvement. We want to make sure we get it right."

Stuehrenberg also said phase one of the Red Line is not reliant on the transit referendum that will be on the ballot for Marion County residents in November. Instead, he said, money to build the Red Line will come from a federal grant. Congress must approve the country's budget for the grant money to make its way to Indianapolis. Stuehrenberg said he expects that to happen in December.