Two-Way Street Conversion in Indy Opens to Traffic

Anything that makes streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists is a good thing as far as we’re concerned here at Bike 5.  That’s one of the reasons I’m so excited that the city of Indianapolis has converted New York Street through the Indiana/Purdue University (IUPUI) campus from a one-way, high speed arterial to a two way community street. The repurposed street opened just this afternoon.  It will take a little getting used to, but once motorists adjust, this will be a positive for the IUPUI campus, adjacent hospitals and the city as a whole.

It isn’t always intuitive that two way streets are safer for cyclists and pedestrians than one way streets but, generally speaking, they are.  This is primarily due to the fact that motorists must exercise extra caution.  Most do so by slowing down.  It’s the same principle that applies in parking lots where motorists have to expect the unexpected.  Low speeds make a big difference in terms of stopping time and crash avoidance.  Speed also impacts survival rates when crashes do incur.  This is good for all road users, not just the non-motorized.

New York (bottom) was previously one way inbound. Michigan (top) is currently one way outbound, but will also be converted to two way.

New York (bottom) was previously one way inbound. Michigan (top) is currently one way outbound, but will also be converted to two way.

Prior to the change, New York was a four lane inbound arterial.  High speeds were common through the IUPUI campus.

Prior to the change, New York was a four lane inbound arterial. High speeds were common through the IUPUI campus.

New York Street under reconstruction. There's a median as well as a sidepath and new landscaping going in.  This is a big improvement for pedestrians and cyclists.

New York Street under reconstruction. There’s a median as well as a sidepath and new landscaping going in. This is a big improvement for pedestrians and cyclists.

The new road is configured to include off-street bicycle infrastructure in the form of a sidepath.  Even though the road is popular with through commuters, this is a reasonable accommodation as the route primarily runs through a college campus.

The city plans to convert adjacent Michigan Street, which is currently one way outbound, to a two way configuration as well.  Work is beginning on that road now with a scheduled opening about a year off.

Kudos to the city of Indianapolis for the courage and vision to make this change.  It sends a powerful message to all road users that it’s about people and not just the machines that carry us.

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