Feelings mixed after City of Carmel pays $142,000 for planters along protected bike lane

CARMEL, Ind. – There were mixed feelings in Carmel over the city’s $142,000 purchase of steel barriers on Rangeline Road. A total of 40 planters were placed last week along a stretch of its first protected bike lane.

Each unit costs a little more than $3,500. The city said part of a $257 million improvement bond package approved by the City Council in 2016 paid for it. It’s all part of the Rangeline Road Streetscape project between Executive Drive and City Center Drive.

The city narrowed the road to one lane in each direction and added a center median and a separated protected bike lane. Leaders hope these barriers will protect riders from cars.

“These will slow or stop vehicles a lot better than a PVC pipe that’s sticking up from out of the ground,” said Jeremy Kashman, city engineer.

Kashman said there are also reflective strips on some of these black planters to help keep bikers safe at night. The city also said they got the idea for the barriers from other cities, like Toronto. Some residents though were surprised to hear how much they cost.

“Astronomical, first off. Second off, unneeded completely. There was no need for it,” said Justin Scott, Carmel resident.

Kashman said there were cheaper options but they felt these made the most sense. He said tubular delineators did not provide a safe buffer zone between cars and bicyclists.

Feelings about the barriers were across the board. A few residents did not like how they looked while others thought it made the stretch of road look nice.

“It gives a sense of greenery in kind of a cement building area so I don’t mind them at all,” said Joellen Gatte, Carmel resident.

The city plans to extend the separated bike lane all the way up to 4th Street. Kashman said there are no plans to add more planters during this phase of the project. He said they are still working on design concepts north of City Center Drive.