Spark

The arrival of orange construction barrels often causes speculation. Work on the BlueIndy car share stations in early June were no exception.

Work on the stations for Indianapolis’ new all-electric car share program began at three locations in Meridian~Kessler: 54th and College, 52nd and College and 49th and Penn in early June. These locations and others across the Midtown neighborhoods, were some of the first stations constructed outside of downtown. Many business owners and residents expressed concern at the lack of notice provided by BlueIndy and its construction team. Without warning, many businesses faced weeks of inconvenience with closed sidewalks and blocked parking spaces.

Since construction started, MKNA President, Nick Colby has had several meetings with the BlueIndy team to discuss its plans and processes for installing a new station.

“The construction on the first three stations came as a surprise to all of us,” said Colby. “MKNA quickly met with city officials and representatives from BlueIndy to understand their plans. BlueIndy has promised to work with us and improve its outreach to businesses and neighbors immediately impacted by the new stations.”

MKNA has been working with Indianapolis’ Department of Public Works traffic engineers to review and address concerns raised about the loss of the on-street parking caused by the installation of the new stations.

The city has provided MKNA with short–term and long–term suggestions for ensuring that the street parking at 49th and Penn is maximized and efficiently utilized. In the first step, DPW crews will mark the parallel parking spaces in the area. Defining the parking spaces will provide drivers with guidance on correct spacing, which hopefully will lead to better utilization of the parking available.

“MKNA will continue to work with the city and its traffic engineers to develop best practices that can be used for on-street parking at all urban business nodes. As MKNA gears up to discuss the specifics of the Red Line mass transit for College Avenue, parking will be a key issue that is discussed with residents and business owners,” said Colby.

Other BlueIndy station locations being considered in MK are 49th Street at College Avenue and 54th at the Monon area. MKNA is working to engage those who would be immediately impacted so they are aware of the proposed work.

Michael McKillip, Executive Director of Midtown Indianapolis, Inc., has also been reviewing the BlueIndy plans. “Despite our regrets over BlueIndy’s early stumbles and the resulting initial pain over parking, we believe BlueIndy holds great promise for Midtown and for our city.  If we can combine BlueIndy with the anticipated arrival of mass transit in 2018 and the ongoing efforts to bring bike share infrastructure to Midtown, we are nearing the critical mass needed to fundamentally alter the way we travel.”

Between 17 and 20 BlueIndy locations are expected to arrive throughout Midtown over the next year.  Cars will be available within walking or biking distance of every major institution, commercial district and public amenity in Midtown.

 


 

Midtown residents share ideas about BlueIndy

“One important reason my family moved to the MK area three years ago was the availability of multiple transportation options. We can drive when we need to, but we also have local businesses within walking distance, we can bicycle downtown or to Broad Ripple on the Monon Trail, and we have three IndyGo bus routes (#17, #18, #19) available within 2 blocks of our house. Two BlueIndy stations are now under construction within two blocks of our house, and a third just a little farther away. With a little luck, we’ll also see rapid transit within a few years. 

That said, our family still owns two cars. We’d love to reap the health and financial benefits of becoming a “car-lite” family, owning just a single vehicle, but there are still the occasions where we find two cars necessary. These trips are primarily to downtown or Broad Ripple for entertainment or dining, or quick trips to shops outside the neighborhood. I see BlueIndy being the last piece of the car-lite puzzle for us, providing a simple and inexpensive option when we need a second vehicle for these errands and quick trips, allowing us to sell our second vehicle. 

For us, going car-lite is primarily about our family’s financial well-being. AAA reports that the average cost of vehicle ownership approaches $9000/year. Most of that money leaves our local economy, draining wealth from our neighborhood and our city. Our family drives relatively modest used cars, but after doing the math for our specific situation, we spend approximately $5000/year in direct costs for each of our two cars. $5000 is a ridiculous amount of money to spend on a second vehicle for a couple quick trips per week. By selling one of our cars and using BlueIndy on the occasions we need a second vehicle, I estimate we will save approximately $4000/year. If I toss that in a 529 fund instead, we’ll have over $100,000 saved by the time my daughter heads to college.

Interestingly, since BlueIndy will only charge a fee when a car is in use, and not when the car is returned to a charging station, we’ll be much more likely to patronize businesses located near a charging station. When BlueIndy launches, we’ll be picking up or dropping off a car outside of Yats, or SoBro cafe, or Napolese, and walking by a handful of businesses to and from our home. We’ll be much more likely to spend some of that $4,000 we’re saving at those local businesses than if we only had to walk to our garage and back. For the same reason, when we do need a BlueIndy car, we’ll be much more likely to drive to a business near a charging station. The choice of grocery store, or choice of restaurant, for example, might come down to which has a charging station out front.” —Matt Hanger

 


“I’m looking forward to trying out BlueIndy. I see it as an economical, energy efficient, and convenient way to get to and from the airport, eliminating airport parking fees or the need to arrange for a ride.

As a single person, I don’t foresee being able to ditch my car but I do like the idea of using the BlueIndy service for occasional trips from SoBro to downtown, Irvington, and Fountain Square. I think it will be a great addition to the city and I’m certainly going to give it a try.” —Shari Voigt

 


 

I am not sure how often I would use the BlueIndy system, but I can definitely think of scenarios where we would need another vehicle and this would be a great alternative.

My generation, the younger generation, is especially drawn to areas where we have variety and options in terms of commuting. We have such a great, walk-able neighborhood but if someone does not have a car, reaching any other part of the city is an incredibly large hassle. I may not be thrilled with where the parking spots are, the location of the parking spots makes sense. It is a highly traveled, easily accessible area. The minor inconvenience of the location will be greatly offset by the usefulness of the cars and charging stations.

I hope there will be a public bike rack nearby, because I could foresee myself and others biking over to the cars and using them.”  —Tyler Neal

 


 

“Personally I am very excited for this program to launch! We have several family members flying in who will be using these instead of rentals to get from the airport to our wedding downtown. Tourism? Yes please. If they install a location at Tarkington, I will no longer need to drive my car and we can reduce down to a 1 car household. The money it will save me in gas, insurance, parking, and maintenance will more than make up for any accrued costs elsewhere. Good bye gas guzzling wagon!” —Amber Champion

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