May 5, 2022

Complete Streets update planned for Indianapolis

Complete Streets update planned for Indianapolis

Built environments can influence the health, safety and economy of residents. The Indianapolis City-County Council is considering an update to the city’s effort to develop safe, accessible "complete streets" for all. 

When Indianapolis navigated a Complete Streets initiative in 2012 it was thought to be one of the most comprehensive plans in the country.  Complete Streets is a transportation policy that city leaders and local planners use to develop, design, and construct safe infrastructure.

Indianapolis City-County Councilor John Barth helped craft the original ordinance a decade ago. He said it’s time for a tune up and a new proposal before the council will update the Complete Streets ordinance.

“We need to make sure that the ongoing planning reflects the change in use of our built environment and that we’re really focused on safety for all the users,” Barth said.

The city has added miles of bike and greenway infrastructure and will invest tens of millions more in multimodal paths in the near future. Bus rapid transit lines have also included pedestrian infrastructure improvements.

Nonprofit Health By Design has partnered to plan and implement the effort. Executive Director Kim Irwin said the new measure includes more health equity components.

“Determining how we approach transportation projects to ensure that we’re meeting needs in neighborhoods and parts of the city that have been historically left out,” Irwin said.

Barth said the council needs to take a hard look at the ordinance. The number of pedestrians killed in Marion County has spiked over the past two years. The proposal includes the creation of a Formal Fatal Crash Review Team to better understand where and why people are being killed and injured on streets.

He said the pandemic has impacted the way people use Indianapolis streets.

“One of them is that folks got more used to walking in their neighborhoods and biking in their neighborhoods and looking for those opportunities for connectivity across different neighborhoods,” Barth said.

The proposal adds transparency and accountability parts. It also brings in more agencies including the Department of Metropolitan Development, IndyGo and IndyParks, to make plans.  In the past the Department of Public Works led implementation. 

The Rules and Public Policy Committee will consider the proposal this month. Health by Design will host a virtual community conversation about the proposal from 6 to 8 p.m. on May 10.

Contact WFYI city government and policy reporter Jill Sheridan at jsheridan@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter: @JillASheridan.

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