Indianapolis is not only a vibrant city known for its warm hospitality, it's also home to the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, one of the most visionary urban bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects in the nation.
City planners from Portland to Paris have traveled to Indy to see how the city managed to replace a lane of car traffic to make way for a $63 million, 8-mile bicycle and pedestrian-friendly Cultural Trail. The decorative brick path connects visitors to hotels, restaurants, attractions and cultural districts. Also lined with art and landscaping, it has garnered international attention as a model for urban revitalization. Named "the biggest and boldest step by any American city" by Project for Public Spaces in New York City, this $63 million, internationally-acclaimed 8-mile biking and walking trail connects all six of Indy's Cultural Districts. From Mass Ave to White River State Park and Fountain Square, the trail is a safe, healthy and convenient way to explore the city. Hop on one of the 250 bikes from the Pacers Bikeshare to explore the city, and dock the bike at one of the 26 stations once you are done.
In 2013, upon the completion of the Cultural Trail, a major question remained: Would the hefty investment of federal grants and privately donated funds pay off? The answer, unequivocally, is yes. A 2015 report by the Indiana University Public Policy Institute showed property values within 500 feet of the artfully implemented protected bike lanes rose 148 percent between 2008 (when the first section of the Cultural Trail opened) and 2014. The subsequent increase in assessed property value totaled more than $1 billion. Also, about half of the business owners along the corridor reported an increase in both the number of customers and annual revenue.
Following the Cultural Trail’s success, in 2014 Indianapolis implemented the Indiana Pacers Bikeshare program (thanks to a contribution by the local NBA team’s owner). With just 250 bikes in its rotation, locals and visitors logged an impressive 107,000 annual rides in the system’s first year. The on-street infrastructure progress continues, as well. This year Indianapolis aims to add three new protected bike lanes bisecting downtown.
Current US Census data doesn’t capture Indianapolis’s recent investment in bike riding, but Oran Sands, vice president of operations for the advocacy group IndyCog, says that bike commuting grew 42 percent from 2014 to 2015. A pilot program from the Federal Highway Administration will bring automated bike counters to Indy.
Biking and Walking
National journalists have proclaimed Indy to be one of the most walkable cities in the country. On foot, visitors can reach hundreds of restaurants and attractions from hotels and major meeting venues. An expansive network of climate-controlled skywalks connect the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium with 4,700 hotel rooms and a four-story mall with hundreds of specialty shops and dining options. When visitors want to be outside, the Indianapolis Cultural Trail offers a safe and scenic greenway for bicyclists and pedestrians to reach hotels, dining, shopping and entertainment in the city’s cultural districts. Bicycle rentals are available at the White River State Park, the Indy Bike Hub, or a Pacers Bikeshare location.
Rent a bike through the Pacers Bikeshare and tour the 8-mile bicycle and pedestrian-friendly Cultural Trail that connects visitors to hotels, restaurants, attractions and cultural districts. Once you are done with your bike you can dock it at any of the 26 convenient stations.
Tours and bicycle rentals are also available throughout downtown at The Bike Hub @ City Market and Wheel Fun Rentals in White River State Park, and some hotels provide guests with complimentary bikes during their stay.
White River State Park offers 250 acres of green space, attractions, and special event venues, all within walking distance of downtown hotels. Visitors can rent bicycles, kayaks, pedal boats, Segways and even gondolas to cruise the Central Canal and tour the park.
ActiveIndy Tours offers seven guided walking, biking and jogging tours that show off highlights of the city. More guided walking tours are available through Indiana Landmarks, and self-guided tours are available at WalkIndianapolis.com.
There are also over 30 miles of greenways and trails winding through the city for runners and people who ride bikes. And just northwest of downtown is the nation’s sixth largest state park, Eagle Creek, which offers 3,900 acres of trails, a 1,400 acre lake, ropes course, and ziplining. To the east is Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park with 1,700 acres of hiking and mountain biking trails.