Proposal aims to restrict right-turn on red, lower speed limit downtown

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Some Indianapolis City-County councilors want to get rid of right turns on red and lower the speed limit downtown, in an effort to make the area safer for pedestrians.

“I think the cars go really fast,” Lily Tamburo said. “And sometimes it takes a while to wait when people are walking.”

The 8-year-old girl was walking around downtown with Lauren Zummo. They’re in town from New York for Tamburo to play Cindy Lou Who in The Grinch. Zummo said a car almost hit them while trying to get to the theater.

“We have to really pay attention. As you can see the cars go really fast, they don’t really seem to care about pedestrians,” Zummo said. “It’s just like New York.”

Proposal 452 would primarily lower the speed limit to 25 mph and restrict right turns on red and left turns on red onto one way streets within downtown’s Mile Square.

“The whole idea is to create a downtown that is a safe place for multi modal transit,” Councilor Zach Adamson said.

Council President Vop Osili and Council Vice President  Adamson are co-sponsoring it.

“We’ve compiled some data and found that, especially in the Mile Square where the likelihood of pedestrian vehicle interactions are highest, that we’ve actually seen a lot of crashes with pedestrians, so that’s the whole reasoning behind this is to reduce those number interactions with vehicles and pedestrians,” Adamson said.

Proposal 452 stems from the Indianapolis/Marion County Pedestrian Plan put together in 2016. It was a partnership with Health by Design, the Marion County Health Department and the Department of Metropolitan Development.  No-turn on red downtown is a policy recommendation included in the report.

“It’s based on a combination of the data itself and what that data has shown us as well as best practices related to pedestrian safety,” Kim Irwin, the executive director of Health by Design, said.

The organization has worked with the city and county health department to improve pedestrian safety. Irwin said there are several high pedestrian crash zones throughout the city, but downtown is by far the highest because there are more people walking downtown.

According to IEMS, so far in 2018 data shows 80 incidents for someone struck by a car while walking or on a non-motorized device within the Mile Square.

“Part of the reason this proposal is starting with just looking at downtown is because the analysis has shown us that turning movements, whether those are right turns or particularly left turns, are high risk or the aspects that are of highest risk for pedestrians,” Irwin said.

Some pedestrians walking downtown Friday night welcomed the proposal.

“I know some people who have to commute and everything might not like it as much, but in terms of drivers being more aware of pedestrians and everything I think it’s a good idea,” Indianapolis resident Felipe Cuatecontzi said.

The proposal is scheduled to be introduced at Monday’s council meeting.