A Cycling Community on the Rise
Indianapolis Episode Recap:
Indianapolis, Ind. has quite a few reasons to be proud of its bicycling culture and the rate at which it has evolved as a bike friendly city. Currently holding a bronze status as a bicycle friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists, the city continues to improve in the eyes of bicyclists and advocacy organizations.
During my visit, I made the most of my time by talking with folks representing businesses and organizations that whole-heartedly promote or embrace the cycling community within Indianapolis.
Stop 1: Indianapolis Cultural Trail
I first met up with Kären Haley, executive director of the 8-mile long Indianapolis Cultural Trail. This trail is an urban greenway connecting six different cultural districts, or downtown neighborhoods, in Indianapolis. It’s amazingly easy to follow, as it contains brick pavers and stick lights for riding at night, and it’s very accessible.
“The trail is available 24/7, 365 days a year, and we always clear it of snow and ice,” Haley said.
In fact, the cultural trail is so convenient that Indianapolis residents actually claim it as the deciding factor in choosing to live downtown. If you live near the trail, but don’t have your own bicycle, it’s a simple fix. There are approximately 20 Indiana Pacers Bikeshare stations located directly on the trail. These gold bikes are easy to identify and readily available. Once your ride along the trail is complete, simply dock the bike at any available station.
“If you have meetings downtown there’s NO reason to drive. It’s super easy just to get out and bike.”
Stop 2: Bike Indianapolis
My next guest was Kevin Whited, former director of Bike Indianapolis, previously IndyCOG, the local bicycle advocacy group in Indianapolis. Whited says Indianapolis has come a long way in terms of improving its status as a bike friendly city.
“In just eight years, we’ve striped a hundred plus miles of bike lanes,” Whited said. “We also have the cultural trail, and we have nearly 70 miles of greenways.”
Whited cites Bike Indianapolis’s hands-on approach as a driving factor in improving the city’s bicycling conditions. For example, the organization serves on the Indianapolis Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, where they push for new bicycling infrastructure and review plans for ongoing projects.
Bike Indianapolis also partners with organizations to host popular cycling events in the city. One of the big events is a partnership with Sun King Brewing Company for the annual “Bike to the Ballpark,” where cyclists bike from Sun King to Victory Field to watch an Indianapolis Indians’ baseball game. Another is the “Tweed Ride,” where folks dress up in 20th century clothing and ride vintage bicycles around the city and to and from a few brewpubs along the route.
Stop 3: Sun King Brewing
Next, I spoke with Clay Robinson and Dave Colt, the founders of the locally owned Sun King Brewing Company. Sun King’s location is bike friendly, and the company works to put on annual bicycling events for the community. One of the events is the previously mentioned “Bike to the Ballpark,” which combines Sun King’s love of beer, baseball and bicycling. The popular event is now in its eighth year.
Not only is Sun King welcoming to cyclists, it also encourages the use of company provided trikes for employees to get around the campus.
“It actually started with tricycles, since the trike brought back that fun feeling of freedom” Robinson said. “That idea steamrolled, and more people started bringing their bikes into work. If you have meetings downtown there’s NO reason to drive. It’s super easy just to get out and bike.”
“In just eight years, we’ve striped a hundred plus miles of bike lanes and have nearly 70 miles of greenways.”
Stop 4: Indianapolis Bicycle Polo Club
For my last stop, I headed to Arsenal Park near the popular Broad Ripple area to try my hand at Bicycle Polo, a sport similar to traditional polo, except bicycles are used instead of horses.
“In general [the sport] has been growing since 2010, “ Neal Bennett, organizer of the Indianapolis Bicycle Polo Club, said. “Once we were able to build these two full time courts in Arsenal Park, it really allowed us to grow the club.”
I, of course, had to try my hand at the fun. The acceleration of the fixed gear bikes on an asphalt court was exhilarating, but sweat inducing at the same time!
The Polo Club welcomes beginners and is an inclusive, co-ed group. After your own rookie experience, or just spectating from the bleachers, head north for a 3-mile ride to any number of bike friendly food and beverage choices.
Jump to More Indianapolis Content:
1. Watch the Mobile Cyclist Indianapolis episode now that you’ve read the recap.
2. Read Mobile Cyclist host Anthony Barr’s Top 5 Biking Spots.
3. Read Anthony’s interview with the city’s leading bike advocate.
4. Read Anthony’s interview with a popular local bike retailer.
Or, just visit our Indianapolis page to access it all in one place.