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.