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Proposed bicycle lane divides Columbus residents

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A northern, four-lane section of Indianola Avenue is set to undergo construction for two bike lanes — one in each direction — similar to the one featured above on Summit Street. Credit: Patrick Wiley | Lantern Reporter

While motorists are preparing for Indianola Avenue to slim down, cyclists can expect things to get a little easier.

Similar to the lanes that opened on Summit Street in December, a large portion of Indianola Avenue will be dedicated to two bicycle lanes — one in each direction — between Morse Road and East North Broadway Street. A bike lane also was recently built on North Fourth Street, though it’s only one lane.

The 2-mile stretch on Indianola, which currently has four vehicle lanes, will be converted into a two-lane roadway, with 5-meter-wide bicycle lanes on either side. The project also will incorporate a center turn lane.

Construction is scheduled to begin early 2017, with the project likely to be completed shortly thereafter.

“The goal is to address both traffic and environmental concerns,” said Samuel Runta, a member of the University Area Commission.

According to the Columbus Public Services Department, motorist speeds on Indianola are too high, creating an unsafe environment for the frequent cyclists along the roadway.

Scott Ulrich, who works as the city of Columbus bicycle coordinator, said he has observed the traffic patterns of Summit Street since its lane reduction, and said he believes Indianola will exhibit similar characteristics.

“Traffic seems to be moving slower than before (on Summit Street),” Ulrich said. “Which should be considered a success. Speeding and safety were of great concern before.”

The bicycle lanes on both Summit and Fourth streets have done well to reduce vehicle speed and create a safer environment for both cyclists and drivers, Ulrich said. Columbus Public Services hopes the same will occur with the lane reduction and addition of bicycle lanes on Indianola Avenue.

Unsurprisingly, Columbus’ many cyclists are looking forward to the bicycle lanes’ completion.

Chris Doty, who works at Once Ridden Bicycles on Indianola Avenue, has especially high hopes for the impending bicycle lanes –– citing safety as the greatest benefit.

“The traffic on Indianola has only gotten greater over the past five years,” Doty said. “It’s getting to the point now where traffic is making it a danger for the bicyclists that are trying to commute.”

Doty, who currently resides in Sunbury, Ohio, does not ride his bicycle too often on Indianola. He does, however, expect that to change once the bicycle lanes are added next year.

Still, even with the prospects of a safer and more environmentally friendly roadway, not all of Columbus’ residents are ready to accept the building of the bicycle lanes.

Since the project’s first official proposal in 2014, many business owners on Indianola have questioned the bicycle lanes’ purpose and overall necessity.

Michael Flick — who has owned The Train Station, a train store, on Indianola for more than 40 years — worries about the potential ramifications the bicycle lanes, and loss in vehicle lanes, may provide.

“I’m not opposed to bicycle lanes,” Flick said. “Bicycle lanes can help to separate vehicle traffic from bicycle traffic. However, do I think this particular project creates more harm than good.”

COTA buses regularly run along Indianola Avenue. With the removal of two vehicle lanes from the current four, Flick is concerned that the buses will cause significant traffic blockages.   

“(Buses) will either be stopping in the middle of the street, or they’ll be weaving in and out the curb,” Flick said. “Either way, traffic will be stopped behind them.”

Flick is also apprehensive about the possible traffic buildup that slimming down the road may provide — especially during peak business hours.

Roadway engineers, however, hope that the center turn lane being implemented will make up for the loss of a through lane, as drivers will no longer have to wait behind turning vehicles.

Nevertheless, with construction scheduled to commence in a few months, change –– both for cyclists and drivers –– is definitely coming.

 

8 comments

  1. The Train Station is a train store! Does anyone else find this wording hilarious?

  2. There are side streets parallel to Indianola from Arcadia to Glenmont Avenue with comparatively very little traffic that cyclists could use instead. Apartments are already going up two blocks north of Broadway and another complex is planned for north of Cooke Road. This is only going to add to the congestion. I’ve lived in this area for 17 years and don’t see enough cyclists on Indianola to justify the lane changes.

  3. Cycling on Indianola is a huge nightmare during rush hour. Hell, driving on Indianola is a nightmare. I actually think moving to a center turn lane will make traffic move faster. Seems like every time I drive on Indianola I end up stuck behind someone turning left and have to pull out in front of fast moving traffic in the right lane. Driving in the right lane isn’t an answer because inevitably there are parked cars in the right lane (even during the time periods where parking is not allowed).

    Not to mention, have you seen the effect of adding bike lanes to 4th/summit? Huge increase in bike traffic on those roads.

  4. When the Bike Lane is built, and connected to other Bike Lanes , to form a grid or a network, the number of people riding bicycles will increase.

  5. Hundreds of drivers to be placed in a traffic nightmare for a handful of bikes???

    This decision is being implemented without community input by a city council that is unaccountable to the neighborhoods this is being foisted upon.

    The “traffic calming” aspect of this is bogus too. What are they talking about here? The only way they will “calm traffic” in this manner is that Indianola will turn into a parking lot from traffic congestion caused by the removal of two traffic lanes.

    This is yet another example of why we need a representative city council.

  6. Five meter wide bike lane? That is more than 16 feet. Interstate lanes are only 12 feet wide. What kind of bikes or how many of them are they expecting to use these lanes?

  7. Now, driving on 4th sucks!!! Indianola will be the next train wreck!!!

  8. Those dang cyclists on my roads, slowing me down. They need to pay for insurance like I do. They need to pay road tax if they are going to be on my roads. They need to register their bikes. /sarcasm

    Get over it, this is to be expected when you live in an urban setting especially by a university. By slowing down roads it forces drivers to find alternate routes which will actually ease up traffic on Indianola. Not to mention these drivers will be on different streets where more businesses could boom since there is an increase of cars and people passing by.

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