INDIANAPOLIS — For as long as Kelly Lavengood can remember, speeding has been a common danger along 38th Street on the city’s near north side.
“You always have to look — even if you have a green light — if you’re crossing 38th to make sure someone is not running a red,” Lavengood said.
Our own cameras were rolling as several drivers flew straight through red lights at E 38th Street and Central Avenue. Lavengood said it is that same reckless driving that often leads to fatal accidents.
“It’s so nerve-wracking just walking along 38th and I can’t imagine if you were a resident on this street how much that infringes on your quality of life to not feel like you can safely walk along your sidewalks,” said Lavengood.
Democratic City-County Councilor John Barth said every Monday morning he gets a sequence of emails and texts from his District 7 constituents who have had frustrating experiences with reckless driving over the weekend.
“Just in the last two weeks or so, in my district, I’ve had someone blow through a stop sign that resulted in another car flipping,” said Councilor Barth.
That is why he is partnering with neighborhood groups and IMPD to curb reckless driving in city hotspots. Barth said, using $133,000 from IMPD’s existing budget, officers will perform extra patrols during the weekend and evening hours.
“By doing this strategy, our hope is that the bad actors that are really causing most of the trouble will see that enforcement is on the way and it’s likely that they will have to deal with a ticket,” said Barth.
Councilor Barth said he thinks drivers have become more reckless over the past 18 months due to the pandemic.
“During the time when most people were in lockdown and the streets were open, there were bad actors who took advantage of that to race through the streets especially on the weekends overnights,” said Barth. “And that’s resulted in people skipping stop signs, going through red lights, and causing dangerous situations on our roads.”
Councilor Barth said increasing patrols is just step one of this three-step project. Up next is a neighborhood-based outreach program through social media, and eventually, a public meeting for residents to chime in as well.
“It’s not pedestrian or cyclist friendly down this street whatsoever,” said Lavengood. “It’s three lanes on each side. It’s essentially a highway in the middle of the city and people treat it as such.”