Tactical Urbanism Leading To Long Term Changes In Indy

March 9, 2016

Article by Michael Field


While plans to permanently alter Monument Circle are still evolving, Spark: Monument Circle clearly identified several opportunities that are now being considered for permanent adoption. Jim Walker of Big Car summarizes what was learned:

“We figured out that closing off the Circle to vehicular traffic wasn’t really all that necessary for markets and other events if you widen the zone for pedestrians to where it will be in the new plan. When the driving lanes are reduced to one or two from three or four, traffic doesn’t get backed up, deliveries and drop offs can still happen, people can cruise through and see what’s going on and then find a place to park, people can still ride bikes in the street, and the whole thing is a lot more vibrant. Closing it down to cars isolates the area and creates a hardship for people doing business down there."

"Another important outcome is that we proved all of the worries that people had about eliminating the driving lanes to be false. People had no trouble turning. Backups didn’t happen. People who drive on Monument Circle aren’t typically in a huge hurry — or they’d take one of our other many wide one-way streets instead. Crashes didn’t happen. Pedestrians weren’t hit. The world didn’t end because a lane went away for cars."

"We also saw that cars will drive slowly and watch for pedestrians when lots of activity is happening. We didn’t have any incidents of people being hurt by cars at the four intersections that don’t have stop signs, stop lights, or cross walks or signals. Drivers just have to watch out and yield to people on foot. When there are a lot of people around, they do yield and they slow down because they are watching what’s going on around them."

We also learned, by extending the pedestrian zone out, that it was important to have cars parked as a buffer for where people hang out. We also showed the value and success of parklets and other street seating. Nobody drove into them. People weren’t afraid to sit close to the street. Nearly three times as many people sat outside and enjoyed the Circle than before. We expect this is just the start for getting people out on the street, socializing and enjoying the culture of our city."

"Parked cars are a great barrier and people feel safe on the other side of them. So eliminating parking would be a bad idea. We think limiting the amount of time you can park is a good approach. But it’s good to have cars there. One thing, when we moved the parking spots out, we just used cones with 'Park Here' stenciled on them. People got it and parked out eight feet from the curb. But some struggled with the concept and really really wanted to park at the curb. The best way to help people get over that was to put something where the cars used to be. We used parklets, bistro seating and picnic tables. When  the parking was moved out and nothing was there, people didn’t accept this very well. But if we were moving parking out to make room for picnic tables for people to sit in and eat an ice cream cone or read a book, they were good with that and didn’t freak out about it.”

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