Now, more than ever, Indianapolis area bicyclist behaviors are under scruitinity by the non-cycling public. The rapid expansion of bicycle facilities, and expanding interest in all types of bicycling, a mayor with a vibrant interest in bicycling, and the resulting media coverage have all contributed to this. So no mater what kind of cyclist you, either tight jeans, lycra, tweed or even cutoffs, your actions, both good and bad, are now magnified.
Indiana and Indianapolis have always had a strong bicycle presence. The traditions of Indiana University’s Little 500, were brought to national attention by the movie “Breaking Away” almost 30 years ago. About the same time, Indianapolis City leaders worked with the local cycling community to build an olympic class velodrome, while other facilities were built that hosted events like the national Sports Festival, the Olympic trails, and the Pan American Games in 1987. Indiana is in the heart of recreational cycling, hosting events like the N.I.T.E Ride, the RAIN Ride and Hilly Hundred, to name name just a few.
But it has been in the last four years, through the effort’s of Mayor Greg Ballard, that we have heard of the effort to develop a “Bicycle Culture” in Indianapolis. It part of an overall vision to offer the amenities that attracts a young, educated, active work force, and the companies that want to hire them.
What is a bicycle culture? It is the cumulation of dozens of small factors. It’s biking to work, or knowing someone who bikes to work, and not thinking it odd or eccentric. It’s riding to Mass Ave, or the Fountain District, or a game at Indian’s Field a Farmer’s Market. It’s looking forward to your next ride on the Monon, the B&O, or Fall Creek trail. It seeing bike in traffic and accepting it has part of traffic, without even thinking about. And it that acceptance by motorist that is most critical to this progress to continue.
While speaking before over 100 members of the Central Indiana Bicycling Association earlier this year. It was here that Mayor Ballard that from the point forward, the further acceptance of Bicycle Culture is contingent on the behavior of bicyclists in traffic.
With the additional of bike lanes and other facilities, and increased bike traffic, We are being noticed. This means every bad behavior; running stop lights and stop signs, riding against traffic, or riding at night without lights, carry more weight than in the past, a greater expecation has been put on us. Where ever, when every, or what every style you ride, know that how you ride matters more now than ever before.