I am an avid motorcyclist and bicyclist who works every day in an office building in downtown Indianapolis. The city’s new IndyGo Red Bus Lines have disrupted my everyday routine just as they have done with the lives of thousands of downtown residents and commuters.
They also worry me a great deal.
It is just some red paint and new streetlights, right? Surely, we are capable of navigating a few basic, well-marked changes. But therein lies the problem.
IndyGo Is Causing Mass Confusion
As motorists who have driven these streets all our lives, we think we are prepared for anything, and so we stop paying attention. And in the case of this foreign driving landscape, it is the changes we do not account for that can cause terrible accidents.
Consider this. Due to the addition of IndyGo lanes, Illinois Street is now a one-way street for all motor vehicles, except buses. Now imagine turning onto this street in your car and seeing a massive bus coming in your direction, when you are expecting one-way traffic. It might throw you off momentarily. And in this moment of confusion, you might slam on your brakes or try to turn the opposite direction—confusion in this situation can trigger any number of accidents.
How do you prepare for confusion in a scenario you cannot even imagine? You proceed with caution. Now is not the time for risky driving, jaywalking, cutting off other drivers in traffic, speeding, crossing lanes without a turn signal—and especially not for distracted driving.
These risky behaviors are not a good idea at any time, but they can be especially volatile in a downtown area where the driving rules have been turned on their heads overnight. There are just too many variables already at play, and risky, reckless, or thoughtless behavior on the streets just compound the probability for a disastrous outcome.
Multiple Accidents Occurred on IndyGo’s Opening Day
I recently saw a segment on the news about one of the more seasoned bus drivers on the Red Line. She was complaining about cars turning in front of her, something she sees as very risky and reckless behavior. Keep in mind, these are double buses—the kind with the accordion connecting the two sections of the bus—and their turning ratio is very thin.
These buses cannot just stop on a dime, which means people cannot take that risk of pulling in front of them as they might do with other cars. Another driver will likely be able to react and stop in a timely manner. But buses of this length, size, and gross weight require much more time to stop—and with more dire damage if they do not.
Three accidents of this type happened on the Red Line opening day. They continue to happen every day, especially as the city tries to work out some kinks in the system.
Accidents Are Not the Only Issue
A different kind of kink the city is working to remedy is that the buses’ electrical charges are not lasting as long as the planners originally thought, meaning the city is going to have to place charging stations in strategic locations throughout the bus line. They anticipate this being finished by the end of the year, but until this is fixed, there is no telling how a suddenly powerless bus could affect traffic situations.
On another note, consider the medians that now run down the street. They are there to deter you from turning across lanes. Do not drive on them. If you do, part of the median gets pulled up, and some of it could stick to the bottom of your vehicle and send you screeching down the road as the metal scrapes the pavement—yet another distraction when you need to be focused on the lanes, lights, and street signs.
Here are some other changes that could throw you for a loop the next time you drive downtown:
- There are fewer travel lanes.
- There are “bus-only” and “bus-only-except-turns” lanes.
- There are “bicycle turn only” lanes.
- There are bus stops in the middle of the road—at signaled intersections, but potentially dangerous.
- Side-of-the-street parking spots have been removed to make room for two-way bike lanes.
RTV6 has done a good job of providing details about the changes introduced with the IndyGo Red Line and how they affect motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Before your next trip downtown, do yourself a favor and read these pages. Click on the videos that show you exactly what to expect.
Overall though, my advice to downtown visitors is simple: Expect the unexpected. Get started in plenty of time for your downtown business, so you are not in a rush, and you can take the time to drive cautiously and make good decisions.
We Can Help if You Are Injured
Unfortunately, accidents will likely continue to occur with the new IndyGo lanes. While we hope you manage to avoid any and all accidents, the Sevenish Law Firm, P.C. team is here if you or a loved one is injured.
Keep our number handy, just in case you need it: (317) 636-7777.