Tag Archives: Bikeability

Fishers Nickel Plate District Trail Project

Fishers Trail Project 116th Street (Image: IBJ.com 11/18/11)

Within the past couple weeks, the Fishers Nickel Plate District Trail Project has reappeared on my radar. I first saw the news story when it broke in the Indianapolis Business Journal last year in November. I recently came in contact with it again when I spoke with the person who works for the company responsible for the unique pavement techniques used in the project. Once I saw some of the pictures, I had to take a look myself. Continue reading

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Hey Walgreen’s, This is an unacceptable a bike rack

A few days ago, I decided to take the scenic route on my way home from work. On my way to my house, I decided to stop into Walgreen’s to buy a drink for when I got home. I locked my bike to an obviously unattached bike rack only because I decided I could run into the store, buy my drink and get back outside before anyone could possibly steal my bike (and the bike rack). When I came back outside, my bike was still there (phew!) but I decided to take a better look at the bike rack. Not only is the rack not attached to any surface, it was somewhat lightweight. I could pick it up if I wanted to. Below is a picture of the bike rack in question.

This is a perfectly good example of what I would call an unacceptable bike rack. Since it is in the parking lot, someone could easily drive by in a pickup truck, get out and pick up a bike with the bike rack attached. Secondly, this does not shed positive light to its owner. It looks as though they took a railing and welded it to a rusted metal window frame. Not to mention also, should an employee want to ride their bike to work, the bike could still get easily stolen without taking the bike rack. This type of bike rack makes it hard to lock the BODY of the bike so the WHEEL is the one getting locked to this structure. Most bikes nowadays have quick release mechanisms. Mine takes seconds to remove the front tire.

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UPDATE: Sycamore Commons Convenience Store proposed for “Manetoowa” Parcel

"Manetoowa" sitting in front of the proposed site (Image: http://www.waymarking.com)

According to a article in the Kokomo Tribune on 12/20/11, Fortune Management is proposing to build a convenience store on the lot where the Indian Maiden statue is currently located. The development could provide everyday necessities that would normally not be within walking distance for people living east of downtown. The project is also located at an important automobile and bicycling route within downtown Kokomo, which “ups the stakes,” creating certain expectations on a currently empty site. Continue reading

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60-Unit IUK Student Housing Complex Approaches Next Hurdle

Potential style of what student housing across from IUK (Image: Kokomo Perspective)

Mecca Companies of South Bend wishes to build a 60-unit student housing complex across the street from Indiana University Kokomo. The project is up for approval with the zoning board for a special exemption and setback variances. If the project moves forward, this would improve IUK’s desireability for prospective freshmen as well as improving the quality of life for current IUK students, which could mean added future development and economic stimulation.

The owner, Annex of Kokomo LLC is asking for variances for setbacks for the front and the rear, a driveway separation variance and a buffer variance on the south and west sides of the property. If the project clears the zoning board hurdle the proposed $7 million 60-unit housing complex could be completed as early as August 2012. Continue reading

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Urban Bike Etiquette

In the past year or so Kokomo has seen quite a lot of bike friendly infrastructure improvements, and as I’ve seen, many people don’t quite know the do’s and don’ts when it comes to biking within an urban area. Some of these tips are somewhat common sense, but it is nice to look at ways to make riding in the city safer.

Biking Etiquette

Here are some widely accepted rules for bike etiquette via the city.milwaukee.gov:

Traveling Through an intersection

This tip is something that comes naturally when you start to ride on busy roads. I found out that if I put myself in the center of the travel lane, cars won’t try to speed past me or turn abruptly into me, otherwise known as the “Right Hook.”

(Image: City of Milwaukee)

Making a Left Hand turn

The following images illustrates 2 easy tips when making a left turn. As you see, these two tips are exactly what a car should do when making the same movement through traffic.

(Image: City of Milwaukee)

(Image: City of Milwaukee)

Watch out for parked cars

This is one of the things that I am worried about when I ride on many of the city’s new bike lanes. I constantly visualize that image of the NYC biker riding down a busy street when a taxicab door opens and injures the biker. Keep a look out! When vehicular traffic isn’t busy, I will try to ride as close to the vehicular lanes instead of the parked cars-or I ride outside the “door zone” like it shows in the following pictures to distance myself from car doors.

(Image: City of Milwaukee)

(Image: City of Milwaukee)

NEVER ride against traffic

This one of the tips that has changed in my opinion in the past couple years. When I was growing up, there was a different mindset about biking in the city. I grew up being told that I should ride my bike against traffic so that I could see the cars and they could see me, instead of cars speeding up behind me. Then again, I could have been given the wrong information. Now, bikes are widely viewed as a form of transportation; we keep bikes going in the same direction of cars as a safety issue for both cars and bicyclists.

This is one of the rules that I see broken the most. I have even seen bicyclists ride against traffic, in vehicular lanes when there are bike lanes available on both sides of the street. In my opinion, this rule continues to apply to bikers when there are bike lanes. I’ve noticed bike lanes being used as a sidewalk would, which is not how they should be used. Bike lanes should be used in accordance to the direction of traffic on that side of the street.

(Image: City of Milwaukee)

When Approaching a Four-way Stop

This tip highlights two issues one might have when coming to a four-way stop.


Depending on where you are, sometimes it is common for bicyclists to blow through stop signs should there not be any vehicles nearby to keep up momentum. In come cities, bicyclists use stop signs as “yield” signs instead of coming to a complete stop. For me, it depends on the intersection entirely. I ride by the “stoptional” idea of vehicular stop signs as optional. If the intersection is busy, I obey the rules of the road entirely just as if I were a car. If it is a residential street and I have good sight clearance, I might blow through the stop sign without slowing down. To be the safest while riding in the city, riders should make a complete stop at stop signs.

(Image: City of Milwaukee)

Ride Predictably

I oftentimes have a hard time following this rule. Sometimes on timid streets, there are very few cars parked on-street. I tend to ride as close to the edge of the street wherever I ride unless there is a bike lane, so sometimes I find myself doing exactly what is said not to do.

(Image: City of Milwaukee)

Biking on the sidewalk

This is one of the tips that is DEFINITELY not followed in cities like Kokomo where there isn’t very much pedestrian traffic on the sidewalks:

(Image: City of Milwaukee)

This first tip is not accurate in the state of Indiana. It is not illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk, although I’ve always found that if there is a possibility of high pedestrian traffic (ie, downtown or in a village setting), I refrain from the sidewalk. I keep off the sidewalks in almost every occasion, except when I find that riding on the street is impossible or unbearable. The only time I will ride a bike on the sidewalk is on extremely busy streets like Sycamore and Washington, here in the city of Kokomo. Sycamore is a poorly designed 2 lane highway that only services the needs of automobiles, and Washington is also a highway but with four lanes.

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Crossing Washington

With the Haynes-Apperson festival this weekend, the city of Kokomo will expect to see hoards of people coming downtown, many of which will cross Washington Street, a busy 4-laned roadway. All the recent road construction downtown made it more pedestrian and bike-friendly, but people who live nearby in the Old Silk Stocking Neighborhood are cut off from downtown because the thought of crossing the busy road makes people anxious. I had a funny thought the other day. Whenever I see people crossing Washington Street at the Sycamore Street intersection they often look as if they are crossing an illegal border, oftentimes hurrying across either roadway seeming like they are trying to not be seen. This problem made me think about what changes could be made to comfort pedestrians and bicyclists along Washington Street and the many side streets near downtown. With small changes, we could see more people walking and biking to the central business district, which in turn would benefit Kokomo.

Desired Pedestrian Connection with Three busy intersections (Image: Ross Pierce 6/29/11)

Continue reading

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Main and Union changes to two-way

Roadways change to two-way roads today.

The project that I mentioned twice now in the past is reaching an end. The two roadways are nearing completion with little work left to be finished, but today the city crews are out removing bags over the added signage for two-directional traffic, finishing up roadway striping, decorative crosswalks and syncing the traffic lights.

The project features stormwater (Past articles with pictures are here and here) which allows rain water to infiltrate the ground via the planters rather than going into the sewer system. With a heavy rain, water will go into the sewer system should the planter reach it’s maximum yield. This sustainable project will help improve water quality, relieve the sewer system of some water, while improving the circulation and making the area more walk and bike friendly by tweaking and changing the streetscape.

Looking South on Main without traffic lines (Image: Ross Pierce 6/3/11)

Thermoplastic Crossing Main at the Walk of Excellence (Image: Ross Pierce 6/3/11)

Bagged Traffic Lights and existing "Do Not Enter" sign will be removed (Image: Ross Pierce 6/3/11)

One aspect which I really love is this enlarged traffic island which veers southbound Union onto Home Avenue. The planting itself needs to grow in a little, but it will look really great soon to come.

Island diverting N/S traffic on Union to Home Avenue. (Image: Ross Pierce 6/3/11)

Bike Path

In a related project the walk and bike path, which begins south of the Markland and Main intersection is starting to be paved and posts are being installed for the fencing. And if you look closely, you can see two people walking their dog on it already.

Bike Path at Main and Markland (Image: Ross Pierce 6/3/11)

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Main & Union Street Improvement Project: Construction Update

If you remember an earlier post I wrote about the Main & Union street improvement project, I highlighted some early thoughts on the specifics on the project. I met with Carey Stranahan on Friday, March 25, and we talked for about an hour about the Main and Union project as well as some general ideas for the future of the city of Kokomo. After the talk, I got a better understanding of the method behind the placement of the new stormwater planters along Main and Union Streets and more information about the overall project.

On Saturday, April 22, I took a walk along Main and Union Streets to see how the construction of the stormwater planters are coming along. As of Saturday, most of the stormwater planters were poured except for some on north Main. When I spoke with Carey, we talked about the biggest planter which will be located near the connection of Union Street and Home Avenue. I am most excited about this planter, because it will direct traffic more efficiently than it did before, and it will almost serve as a gateway point for that area. The planted median will be vegetated with some evergreens and other plants.

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It is kind of hard to tell, because there has been quite a lot of construction in these pictures, but as I mentioned in the previous post, the planters are not completely symmetrical as you move down the street because they are taking out existing stormwater inlets and creating the stormwater planters where those inlets where located. The asymmetrical location of the planters makes complete sense utilizing existing locations of storm water inlets. By doing this, the project is as minimally invasive as possible. Crosswalks will be marked with a faux brick texture, making the streets more pedestrian friendly. Main and Union Streets will accommodate two-way traffic, but Main Street will accommodate bike lanes and Union will not. Bike racks, flower baskets, street furniture and possibly other traffic calming techniques are focused near the Main Street business district near Markland Avenue.

Bike Path

The proposed bike path will start at the intersection of Main and Markland and will continue south along the ROW of the railroad until the path meets Boulevard Street near Chrysler. This bike path is part of a plan to include alternative modes of transportation, hoping to connect to other greenways in the area. This pathway will serve the city as its north and south spine and will support the east/west Wildcat Creek Walk of Excellence.

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“Conserve your gas by continuing to drive” – A limited view from CNHI

As I skimmed through past articles from the local newspapers online, I came across this little jewel. An article by the Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc (CNHI) in the Kokomo Tribune about the conservation of gasoline to save money. The ONLY tips given to conserve gasoline are noted as checking your maintenance schedule, avoid aggressive driving and the list below:

• Observe the speed limit. Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Each 5 mph you drive above 60 mph is like paying an additional 24 cents per gallon of gas.

• Remove excess weight. Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle, such as golf clubs or tool boxes. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your mileage by as much as 7 cents per gallon.

• Avoid excessive idling.

• Use the cruise control.

• Use your overdrive gears.

Nowhere does it mention using alternative modes of transportation. The article never mentions the words bus, train, bike or walk anywhere. Here is the problem. This generic article was most likely published in many other states, illustrating that as Americans we only look at solving problems with the most convenience. This article is a perfect example. The article’s impression is “We won’t give up the convenience of our vehicles, but we want to save the money we spend on powering them.” The result: an article on becoming a more efficient driver. Being an efficient driver isn’t enough, we need more radical changes. You might be able to save up to $1, by abiding by these “efficient rules,” but what will you do when gas prices rise to succumb that measly dollar saved?

The best way to save money and to conserve gasoline is to take more drastic measures to remove it from our lifestyle, like cutting down the amount of time spent in a car or by using other modes of transportation. A bike for instance might take more time to get to your location, but it also burns calories, reduces congestion, reduces road wear and tear (reduces amount of tax dollars needed for road repair) and saves more money than “observing the speed limit” in your car like CNHI suggests.

The amount of savings of using alternative transportation could easily be calculated. If you live close to where you work, walking and biking would be just as efficient. If you work further away from where you live, but live near a transit line, taking public transportation would definitely reduce the amount of fossil fuels being used. By using public transit, or using a bicycle for regular trips, a person could save $40+ per week by not using a personal vehicle. Imagine what you could spend with the money you could save by using public transit or a bicycle. If you spend as much as $40 per week and are able to use public transit or a bike for regular trips you could save around $2,000 each year. Also, where do you suppose your money goes when you guy a gallon of gasoline? Almost 75% of the money goes to crude oil extraction companies, mostly in Saudi Arabia or Russia. We are literally paying other countries so that we can drive our vehicles.

Becoming an efficient driver is not enough, cutting out excessive trips and by using alternative modes of transportation are more effective ways of saving money. But the article did get one aspect completely correct “we all must acknowledge we likely never will pay fewer than $3 per gallon for gasoline again.” With gas in the $3.90’s currently, I’d be extremely surprised to see gasoline fewer than $4 in the next coming months. And there it is: that $1 you saved by driving more efficiently is spent on gas.

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Main & Union Street Improvement Project

It’s St. Patrick’s day, so lets talk about something green that the city of Kokomo is working on.

The other day, I decided to take an alternative route to the south side of Kokomo. Instead of using Washington to drive south, I used Main Street and noticed that some of the locations of the roadway improvements are spray-painted on the road surface. The project is detailed in the Kokomo Tribune, with Main and Union streets becoming two-way thoroughfares with bike lanes and stormwater retention planters. From my understanding, the planters will look something similar to the stormwater planters used in the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, but on a much tighter budget.

As I got out to walk around the stretch just north of Markland Avenue, I noticed that some of the stormwater planters were in strange locations. Some were midblock, some where like a typical intersection bump-out and some seemed to be on only one side of the street and not the other. From someone who finds symmetry extremely aesthetically pleasing, this bugged me. I could be wrong about the placement, since the project hasn’t even began construction yet. For all I know the city ran out of spray paint while marking the planter locations.

No planter marked in front of the Main Street Methodist Church with parking limited. Seems like a good place for a planter... (Image: Ross Pierce 03/11/11)

Continue reading

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