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Indianapolis' 'Complete Streets' Order Ushers in Transit Renaissance

Making Hoosier streets safer for all

Brenda McAtee works to incorporate Prospect St. which has no pedestrian access into the Complete Streets program in Indianapolis

Brenda McAtee joined with AARP Indiana in successfully urging the Indianapolis and Marion City-County Council to adopt a "complete streets" program for the benefit of all road users. — Peter Hoffman

Lengthy process predicted

Changes won't happen overnight or on every street, Miser warned.

"We'd love to put bike lanes on every street, but in certain circumstances that's going to be impractical," she said. "We've got to focus on connectivity — bike lanes connecting to bus or rail routes, bus stops located on accessible sidewalks — on major thoroughfares as well as the secondary streets."

To cut costs, most of the work will be done during routine road resurfacing projects. Miser anticipates many transit changes in the next five to 10 years based on complete streets concepts.

With the ordinance passed in the capital and other major cities, including Columbus, Evansville and Bloomington, AARP Indiana is focusing on the legislature, where complete streets bills have languished for three years over worries about cost, said Paul Chase, AARP associate state director for public policy.

In a tight economic environment, there have been concerns that the extra features will bring about extra costs, but Chase quickly downplays those notions.

"The costs involved are pretty insignificant, especially when you consider all the health, environmental and potential economic development benefits," Chase said.

"With one in every five Hoosiers over the age of 65 by 2030, it's important we start getting things done now."

Robert Annis is a journalist who lives in Indianapolis.

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