My latest article just went up at Urban Indy. It’s a familiar subject to those who know this blog well: another ghost bike, this time in the largely suburban, automobile dependent streets of the south side of Indianapolis. Unlike my very recent article on a ghost bike in Albuquerque, this one almost certainly signifies a fatality caused by a vehicle. It’s actually right up against a major arterial, and though that arterial has painted bike lanes, a car traveling 40 mph (as most are on Madison Avenue) could easily stray just a few inches outside of its dedicated space, into that bike lane. And a bicyclist going 12-15 mph would be no match. That’s probably what we’re witnessing here.
But there’s more than meets the eye. The name of the deceased drapes the frame of the bike, and that name speaks more powerfully of a certain demographic subset in Indianapolis–a demographic subset likely to face considerably lower incomes and a greater dependency on bikes. To be fair, the road conditions on this stretch of Madison Avenue aren’t too bad for bikes or pedestrians: it does have sidewalks, the painted lanes are consistent, and key goods and services are within walking distance of this location. But this is merely pretty good for Indy–by most urban metrics, the infrastructure on Madison Avenue is mediocre. However, buried deep within the iconography of this ghost bike is a narrative that could easily form a powerful argument for complete streets: for superlative bicycle/pedestrian provisions, more frequent crosswalks, slower vehicular speeds, traffic calming devices–far better for this part of town than many other locations.
Read the full article, and feel free to comment here or at Urban Indy. As always, I welcome other people’s perspectives, on a subject that is likely to become more salient over time.