In the past year, the Indianapolis Cultural Trail has received attention and support from both native Hoosiers and people across the country. Cities such as Portland, Oregon and Cleveland, Ohio have voiced their support (and jealousy) of the eight-mile bike path that connects five of the six Indianapolis Cultural Districts. The trail has also been mentioned on many popular architecture and urban planning sites, including Urbanophile.
Construction on the trail began in 2007, and officially opened in May of 2013. Opening Day activities included performances by local artists and musicians, and plenty of family friendly activities throughout the morning and afternoon.
So, what does this type of infrastructure mean for the residents and visitors of Indianapolis? The Cultural Trail provides a safe and spacious pathway for bicyclists and pedestrians to utilize on their daily commute or for recreation as a way to enjoy the city. Many sections of the trail feature a split path: one side for walkers and runners and the other for bicyclists. It also features a series of public art pieces and The Glick Peace Walk that celebrates twelve historic individuals who peacefully led progressive movements.
Not only is it functional, but the trail is also environmentally and aesthetically pleasing. Made up of pavers and lined with landscaping and bioswales, the Indianapolis Cultural Trail is every environmentalist’s dream. A stretch of the path on North Street even features a canopy of solar panels. To say that the trail is sustainable would be an understatement.
Another thing that downtown dwellers have noticed about The Cultural Trail is that it stimulates development and growth along the corridor. A prime example of this is in Fountain Square, a district that lies directly southeast of downtown Indianapolis. The area wasn’t always the artsy, hip place that it is today. Throughout the past few decades, a series of improvements and developments have turned Fountain Square into a bustling district with housing, restaurants, and destinations.
The Cultural Trail is celebrating the many businesses along its path by implementing a new program called ‘Friends of our Trail’ (or FooT). A yearly ‘friendship’ allows access to a number of discounts at local restaurants, bars, and shops, along with member exclusive activities.
There is seldom a day where people are not out enjoying the trail by foot or on bike. The Cultural Trail has been deemed one of Indianapolis’ greatest assets, and I hope to see it grow as a bike share program comes to the city in the Spring 2014.
What type of biking infrastructure does your city have? How can bike paths stimulate growth and development in a region?
Credits: Photos by Laura Granieri. Data linked to sources.