June 21, 2024

Dangerous north side intersection gets tactical urbanism treatment

The Monon Trail received recent upgrades as part of a tactical urbanism project. - Jill Sheridan / WFYI

The Monon Trail received recent upgrades as part of a tactical urbanism project.

Jill Sheridan / WFYI

A bright, yellow wreath still adorns a traffic sign near the intersection of the Monon Trail at 86th St. on the north side of Indianapolis. In 2021, local bicyclist and Bicycle Garage Indy’s Frank Radaker was killed after being struck by a car.

Since then the business has partnered with Nora Alliance and other community groups to improve safety through a new tactical urbanism project. The initiatives aim to slow traffic at busy and dangerous intersections or roadways.

Connie Szabo Schmucker, advocacy director at Bicycle Garage Indy, says the loss of her colleague represents a larger problem.

“If you’re driving along 86th St. and you come to this intersection, you have no idea that there’s a major trail that crosses,” Szabo Schmucker said. “So this will hopefully give some visibility.”

Newly painted tracks line the trail leading up to the intersection where rumble strips, taped curb bump-outs and bright orange bollards were installed.

Other traffic-calming projects have used painted barriers in the middle of roadways or art in the right of way.

The group worked with the city’s Department of Public Works to apply for and complete the project. DPW also has plans to make more permanent crosswalk improvements at the busy intersection.

The project involves a survey of drivers and pedestrians. A majority of respondents said the intersection was unsafe.

At the site, Szabo Schmucker said five of the bollards were hit and knocked over in the days right after installation.

“That just shows that people need to pay more attention and be careful when they’re turning,” she said.

The group said more than one million people use the trail annually. The street is a busy thoroughfare that leads to large shopping complexes on either side.

The number of pedestrian and bicycle crashes in Indianapolis have increased in recent years. Szabo Schmucker said more attention to intersections that are known to be dangerous is important.

“You’re going to come a long way of fixing a lot of the crashes that are currently happening,” she said.

Over 50 volunteers helped install the new features, and a combination of public and private funding was used for the project.

The city has also applied for grants to build a bridge across 86th St., but no funding has been identified yet.

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