Extended Hours on Trails for First Fridays!
The Monon, Pleasant Run, Pennsy and the Fall Creek Trails are now open until 2:30 AM on First Fridays of the month up to and including Sept. 6th 2013. The rest of the month it's still 9pm as usual. This should make it easier to get home after an night of visiting all the events tied to First Fridays.
Thanks to IndyParks board and staff for this change.
Extended Hours on the Monon are now permanent!
IndyParks Board just voted unanimously to permanently extend the hours of the Monon from 5am - 9pm! The change goes into effect on November 11th so that IMPD can adjust patrols accordingly. Anyone that has been recently hassled by IMPD for using the trail after dusk may question the need for implementation time (i.e. they're already on the trail) but we are just happy that they are extending the hours.
Thanks to IndyParks board and staff for working with us on this change.
Now let's begin working on 24/7 access in late 2013 or early 2014!
Extension of the Monon Hours, the Saga Continues Part Deux (Updated 10/21/11)!
Update to INDYCOG members, followers, & Monon Petition signatories. In case you aren't following INDYCOG on Facebook or Twitter, you missed the news last night (11/20). At 6:30 PM, that the Indianapolis Parks Board voted unanimously to extend the hours of the Monon Trail! The new hours we be 5AM-9PM and will take effect November 6th, 2011, and will extend to March 13th, 2012 (Daylight Savings Time). That means that you can still be kicked off/ticketed for using the Monon from dusk and to dawn before the start date (11/6/11). Also, this is only for the Monon Trail and not any of the other greenways/multi-use paths or Town Run.
These new hours are a "pilot program" and Indy Parks wants to study how much usage the Monon Trail will get during those extended hours, so get out there and ride. Also, I'm sure they are concerned about safety, so make sure you are safe on the Monon (i.e. ride in groups, be cognoscente of your surroundings, etc.). Indy Parks said they would review the hour change at the end of the test period to decide if the change will remain permanent and/or the hours will work for the trail users. Also, we hope that Indy Parks will begin looking at the other greenways/multi-use paths, as well as Town Run. Please feel free to read the original story that was in our Oct-Nov 2011 Newsletter below.
Also, if you like what INDYCOG is doing, please consider becoming a member of our organization. With the support of our membership we can work to make Indianapolis one of the most bicycle friendly cities in America. But we need you're your help to hire our first paid staff member. Yes, believe it or not, we've been able to accomplish as much as we have with an "all volunteer" staff/board but we can accomplish so much more with a full-time employee. So, please consider donating, becoming a member or both besides we have a great "Members Only Appreciation Party" in January.
INDYCOG, Board President
Original Article from INDYCOG October-November 2011 Newsletter
Before I begin on the status of the Monon hours, I wanted to thank the 1,100 plus people that signed the Monon petition. If any of you have ever worked in the public sector or are familiar with how our elected officials make some of their decisions, you may know that 1,100 signatures can sometimes carry quite a bit of weight. I've had friends that have worked for state representatives or state senators, here in Indiana, that have made decisions based on three calls to their office, no lie. So again, thank you for the time and effort you put in signing, forwarding, pressuring and maybe even arm-twisting your friends and family to sign the petition. We will be sending a mass email to all the signatories, letting them know the status of their labor, because believe it or not, not everyone reads our blog, visits our website, Facebook page, well, you get the point, some people will need us to reach out to them. We need to build as much support as possible for the cycling community if we would like to continue our steady growth.
Now, let's talk about the Monon. We (INDYCOG) began looking at the problem of night-time access, after there were a number of tickets issued to cyclists who's only crime was choosing to ride a bicycle to work; oh, and violating the archaic "Dawn to Dusk" rule on the greenways of Indianapolis. We weren't the first group/people to attempt to change this policy but we hope to be the last. In fact, Connie Szabo-Schmucker, the former executive director of Bicycle Indiana and now the Advocacy Director for BGI (Bicycle Garage Indy), worked with the former Indy Parks administration to have this rule altered with little success. I'm sure CIBA (Central Indiana Bicycle Association) was involved on some level as well, as well as whole host of other individuals that I'm leaving out. The point is, that this has been a thorn in side of many cyclists for years. Currently, we hear that cyclists caught after dark won't be ticketed but we are still asked to leave the trail and sent out on to the roadway that is statically far more dangerous than a car-less trail. According to a study done by Johns Hopkins, 56% of all cycling fatalities occurred at night, which means that the slim chance of being assaulted while riding on the trail looks pretty good compared to being hit by a car. Let's face it, the more people riding the Monon, and any other greenway for that matter, the safer the corridor will be. Urban planners & police call it "Eye's on the Street" and study after study show that the more people utilizing their front porches or using (i.e. walking, playing, cycling) the street, the safer it will become. There are more people to call the police and criminals and police don't mix, so they (criminals) will move on.
You might be asking yourself, "what do other cities do?", and that is exactly what we did. So, instead of thinking about things in a vacuum, which we tend to do here, we called other cities with urban and non-urban trails. Below you will find a chart containing some of our findings. As you will see, most of the cities we contacted, have much more extensive hours of use than Indianapolis. We did pick cities of similar size/Bicycle Friendly Cities ranked by the League of American Bicyclists, so that we could somewhat compare like cities or cities we would like to emulate, in regards to cycling anyways. We asked them about crime on their trails and for the most part, it was a non-issue. Sure there were assaults on occassion, but according to many of the cities we interviewed, there were more on the adjacent streets, sound familiar. Also, we asked the cities about lighting on their trails and while some did have lighting, many didn't and they referred back to their state law requiring cyclists to have lights. Lastly, if Indy Parks is concerned about liability, we found case law that indicated that parks have little liability, when it comes to assaults on park property. With the information gathered from other cities around the country, we feel that Indy Parks has a number of examples that they can pattern new rules for the greenways.
Where We Currently Stand
Last week, manned with ~1,100 signatures and a sport coat, I went to the Indy Parks Board Meeting expecting to get a "yes" vote from the board to extend the hours of the Monon. Indy Parks proposed a pilot program that was developed by the Indianapolis Greenways Development Committee. This pilot program would run from November 6th to March 13th (coincides with Daylight Saving Time) and would extend the hours from 5AM to 7PM. Many of you may already see a problem with this, one because the pilot program doesn't begin until November 6th and it's already dark in the morning; and two, 7PM isn't very late. Indy Parks assured me that they would revisit the hours again, after the pilot program was complete and of course, depending on its' success.
The board meeting was moving along quite well with positive and supportive testimony from IndyParks Greenway Manager Al Ensley and several of the parks board members. Mr. Ensley had a letter of support from IMPD, but unfortunately they couldn't make the meeting because they were out, well policing. This didn't sit well with one of the board members, Dr. Michael R. Twyman, who suggested that they hold off the vote until IMPD could make it to the meeting. He wanted them to discuss their plan for policing the Monon, once the hours are extended. Mr. Ensley pointed out that IMPD will not discuss in public what their strategy would be. That would be like a commander in Afghanstan posting his patrol times and locations on the web (my words, not Mr. Ensley's) but Dr. Twyman were still not comfortable. Needless to say, the board moved to postpone the vote until next month. Which means another month goes by that cyclists and any other user, will be ejected from the trail, if caught using it after dark.
Now, I don't want to demonize anyone in the parks department or on the board, because they are truly concerned about all the stakeholders, from the bicycle riders, to the adjacent landowners, to the general public. I know and respect Stuart Lowry and several of the board members and I'm sure that Dr Twyman is truly concerned about the public's general welfare; all you need to do is look at his CV to determine that fact. But, we (INDYCOG) are frustrated with what we see as misguided concern for the cycling public. As mentioned earlier, statistically we are fare better on the Monon than on the adjacent roadways. We also see a biases when it comes to our chose of transportation. For example, the Dept. of Public Works doesn't shut down the intersection at 38th and Ritter because there is a carjacking or because a particular area has higher than normal crime rate. They leave that up to the risk level of the user and we would ask that Indy Parks do the same.
We (INDYCOG) feel that one of the best ways to get people to understand what cyclists go through on a day to day basis it to get them out on a bike. Besides, sometimes when this happens, people also understand why we choose to ride in the first place. What better way to see the city and I recall, sometime ago, reading an article that stated that one way to turn someone into an urbanist (aka. someone who likes cities) is to get them out on a bike, in their city. With all that said, we would love to take the IndyParks staff and board out on a bicycle ride and let them experience the city as we see it. An attractive, well-connected city, that is fun to navigate on a bicycle but which could use some tweaking here and there. Maybe we could schedule that ride with our membership sometime in the near future.
Again, thanks for supporting INDYCOG in this campaign and please get out there and ride safely. Also, try to get a family member, friend or neighbor out on their bikes, because the more people riding the more likely we will get improvements to our infrastructure and public policy.