Why Can’t Indy Do Stuff Like This??

Trust Neil Pierce to give us a peek at what cities can be. And of course, New York is leading the way–under a Mayor who has done an incredible job of making the Big Apple both livable and hip. Pierce describes the new touch-screen kiosks that are being unveiled first in New York’s Union Square–new technology that will not only make city life more convenient, informative and safer, but will generate revenue to boot.

Whatever your impressions of Mayor Bloomberg as a person or politician, his impact on the daily life of the city is undeniable. ┬áSince our middle son moved to Manhattan, my husband and I get into New York a couple of times a year, and we’ve seen the changes: bike paths everywhere; inviting riverside parks; pedestrian-friendly walks and mid-street cafes where horn-honking cars used to dominate. The city is rolling out a bike-sharing program with an initial supply of ten thousand bicycles. It is well into the redevelopment of west-side Manhattan–our son lives in a spiffy new tower, complete with doorman and upscale amenities in a neighborhood I wouldn’t have walked in ten years ago, not far from the triumph that is the High Line.

In fact, the High Line is a perfect symbol for the City under Bloomberg. It was an eyesore–an abandoned elevated train track. Most cities would have torn it down; New York turned it into a park so successful that it attracts tourists from around the world and has generated some two billion dollars in adjacent redevelopment.

A city that can turn an eyesore into an amenity is worth emulating, even if you can’t get a 32-ounce soda there.

Next month, we’ll be visiting our son, and I’m making a beeline for Union Square. I’m going to be one of the first to try out the new kiosks. I’ll need to do it there, because if the past few years are any indication, it will be a long time before Indianapolis gets them. We were late getting even the few bike lanes we have, and no one has even suggested that we introduce a bike-sharing program, although cities from New York to Charlotte have done so. Our parks depend on charity for their continued existence. Public transportation is next to nonexistent. On a per-capita basis, New York is safer.

When we do something big, like hosting the Super Bowl, the impetus and the execution come from the private sector. If anyone in the Mayor’s office or on the City-Country Council is thinking big, or proposing innovative ways to improve livability in our city, they’re keeping it a secret.

Of course, we can buy really big sodas.


  1. East 10th Street between Shortridge Road and Arlington Avenue (the only area I drive regularly) has new bike lanes but…the actual bike lane starts and stops depending on the width of paved street. Then the bikes are allowed to use the full traffic lane; signs are posted specifiying these in and out changes. This is a danger to bikers and very confusing to drivers. Is this the way New York City bike lanes are set up; with bikes randomly in and out of traffic? Or is this Indianapolis again attempting to give the appearance of being a big city?

  2. Even though the concrete is in bad shape, whenever I drive on the south side of downtown, I envision something similar to the High Line on the train tracks. Of course, trains still use it, but it a pleasant dream.

  3. Ah…but WE have green pained asphalt that is some kind of trail. I have NO IDEA how much money we spent for the green painted asphalt “Trail”. Most certainly a total waste of money.
    But we had TONS of money to spend on supporting Multi-millionaires who wear jock straps to work. I submit that if a person wears a jock strap to work, that job is silly and pointless should NEVER receive 10 cents of public money. (Oh..in the interest of gender equality: If you wear a sports bra to work, the same logic would apply – NO government Money)

  4. I think it all has something to do with Leviticus in the Old Testament. Can’t put my finger on it right now, but something about God creating the internal combustion engine on the 8th day, with concrete and asphalt coming on the 9th. Earlier I think bicycles were banished from the Garden of Eden as “unGodly two wheeled creatures”. Since New York City doesn’t believe in the Bible, that explains the difference.

  5. Bike share has been suggested in Indy and I believe you will see it sometime next summer. Bike lanes are not perfect, but considering what we had 5 years ago, we are moving in the right direction. No one noticed the state of bike lanes in Portland and New York when they were first starting to build them. The world only recognized them when they became wold class, but that doesn’t happen overnight. We see the flaws of a developing system rather than a mature product. Given the support and interest, Indy will continue to improve cycling infrastructure.

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