City of Columbus traffic officials are leaning towards a plan for on-street parking and bike lanes on Indianola Avenue between Oakland Park Avenue and Hudson Streets, but some continue to push for a plan for buffered bike lanes with no on-street parking.
They say the latter plan would be safer for cyclists who would have to share the road with motorists along some stretches of Indianola, according to the plan that city officials now prefer.
“A buffered bike path really is the safest option,” said Harvey Miller, professor at Ohio State and director of the university’s Center for Urban and Regional Analysis.
Buffered cycle paths are those that are separated from traffic by space – often painted lines – or some kind of physical barrier.
Last week, Transit Columbus, an advocacy group, posted an email asking people to contact the city to support buffered bike lanes between Arcadia Avenue and East North Broadway.
“This is a unique opportunity to implement improvements that affect our quality of life and support local businesses,” the email read.
Josh Lapp, chairman of Transit Columbus, said creating buffered bike lanes with no parking would make it safer for cyclists.
Justin Goodwin, head of urban transportation planning, said the city’s favored option includes:
• Parking on the east side of Indianola from Hudson Street to Arcadia Avenue.
• Bicycle lanes with parking on the west side of Indianola from Arcadia to Weber Road.
• Parking on either side of Indianola with “Sharrows” in the street where cyclists would ride between Weber and Midgard Road. Sharrows are road markings with two inverted V-shapes above a bicycle that indicate which part of a road should be used by cyclists when sharing the road with automobiles.
• Bicycle lanes with parking on the east side of Indianola between Midgard and East North Broadway.
Parking is now legal on both sides of Indianola, with 299 spaces on the street between Hudson Street and Oakland Park Avenue.
Business owners wanted parking between Midgard and Weber, Goodwin said. These businesses include places like Studio 35, Elizabeth’s Records, and the Clintonville Barbershop.
Eric Brembeck, owner of Studio 35, said while the city’s preferred plan would keep the parking lots near his business, he fears the removal of many parking lots along Indianola could push visitors to the back streets.
“It’s like a solution looking for a problem,” he said. “I find it difficult to support that.”
David Lewis, the owner of Elizabeth’s Records, 3037 Indianola Ave., said that while he is a huge supporter of cyclists, parking along Indianola is a premium.
“If we lost our street parking lot, that strip of shops, we would be out of business,” said Lewis.
Gary Spehr, owner of the barber shop on Indianola Ave. 3025 said its customers want on-street parking. “You want to park on Indianola,” he said.
Spehr added that he was glad the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) was moving a nearby bus stop that should provide more parking.
Lapp said the city should conduct additional studies to determine how much parking is really needed. He also said the bike lanes will lead people to businesses.
“Ultimately, the more infrastructure you build, the more it is used,” he said.
“If you build it, they will come.”
Officials should make a decision on an option for the bike lanes and parking lots by the end of October, Goodwin said. But the new bike paths or parking spaces will only become a reality when Indianola is paved again – in 2023.
“We’re trying to come up with a concept that takes into account the multiple needs along the corridor to keep some parking spaces on one side of the street,” said Goodwin.
Lapp said the city is trying to meet the needs of many residents.
“Indianola is not a pleasant experience for anyone,” he said.
Miller said cars parked along bike lanes are dangerous, such as cyclists unwilling to open car doors and motorists exiting parking lots.
Molly Nichols, a Glen Echo resident who was working on a sample letter that residents could send to the city to support buffered bike lanes, said she had found it since moving from Pittsburgh to Columbus three years ago is a city built for cars.
“This is really an opportunity to change the infrastructure along Indianola to make it more pedestrian and cyclist friendly,” said Nichols.
She and Lapp both pointed to the buffered bike paths along Summit Street in the university district, which also has on-street parking.
Nichols said she has two young children, ages 4 and 1, who sometimes ride on her bike. She said it was less safe to drive off a bike path into traffic where there are sharks. The sharks needed to be made more visible, but she said she was more likely to ride on Indianola with buffered bike paths.
Lapp said anyone who has ridden the Summit Street bike path has had a better experience there than anywhere on a street.