Pacers Bikeshare Director of Operations and seasoned rider, Joshua Tharp shares his unique perspective on biking in the city.
Where do you ride your bike?
The short answer is anywhere that I can. The more detailed answer involves a bit of theory. For me, the most pleasant place to ride usually involves feeling secure and well supported by the environment. This usually means a place with few cars and which allows for myself and anyone with me to bike comfortably in a group where communication can take place, whether it is about the ride or about life.
Trails are the obvious response to these needs, as they afford a place to ride independent of motorized traffic and which are generally large enough to ride at least two abreast or closely front to back. Whether for exercise, commuting, or the pure fun of it, biking at speed is becoming an important aspect of the transportation mode, and presents problems for those who might be sharing the space but who are moving at lower speeds. Bike lanes are a way to have space dedicated to biking which is safe at any speed.
While trails and bike lanes are super helpful and nice, I ride side streets and alleyways a lot. The connected side street, while shared with motorized and potentially pedestrian traffic, provides a low-speed, spacious place to ride, which feels reasonably safe. This is where I spend most of my time on two wheels.
The benefit of freeing oneself from bike specific infrastructure, is that the environment is opened up dramatically and the city can be explored. Suddenly, five mile daily commute is transformed into a choose your own adventure with novel sights and people whom you would never have otherwise met. Your surroundings become a part of your travel, and you begin to understand the world’s character in your life. Trees have things to say, birds are happy to see you, and flowers dance and sway as you make your way to your destination.
In Indianapolis, we are beginning to highlight routes through neighborhoods which utilize side streets for this purpose. We are calling them Neighborways. Through signage and street paint, these routes are being designated throughout the city to provide some basic direction for how to use extant infrastructure with minimal cost and impact to and for the people.
Where do YOU ride? Tag @pacersbikeshare on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook on your next Pacers Bikeshare ride on the Cultural Trail.