Annual downtown bike race has greater meaning for cyclists


The fifth annual Indy Criterium bike races zipped through downtown Indianapolis Saturday. More than 500 competitive cyclists raced in 11 races starting early in the morning.

The races, however, were about more than crossing the finish line. Local cyclists hope Indianapolis will soon be leader for bike-friendly cities across the country.

"Downtown it seems there's a bike lane everywhere," said cyclist Mike Binz.

Indianapolis is well its way. There are 74 miles of on-street bike lanes and plans to hit 200 miles over the next 12 years.

"We're a great bike city downtown, bike share has just come on, we see lots of cyclists. Once you move out of the downtown area, probably not a great bike city, but we are moving toward that," said Carole Terry, President of the Central Indiana Bicycling Association, or CIBA.

Cyclists are thrilled to see more bike lanes painted on streets across Indianapolis. Now they hope the lanes can find a way to connect.

"If you have a bike lane that just goes west and stops, that's not very useful. People need to be able to go west and then come back east," Terry said.

Carole Terry and CIBA Foundation President Dolly Craft believe Indianapolis is close to pulling ahead as a destination for cyclists. They say races like the Indy Criterium can help.

"Those are the sorts of things that begin to build that culture. Is for people to see that lots of people are starting to ride their bikes, and that it's becoming safer and easier for them to ride their bikes," Terry said.

Terry and Craft also believe there are several laps and years to go.

"So that they can actually use their bikes for transportation to get from point A to point B," Terry said.

"There's a long way, there's a long way. And we'll keep working at it," Craft said.

The City of Portland is now looking to Indianapolis for help creating their own version of the Cultural Trail downtown. Later this month, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard will visit Portland to talk about the success of the Cultural Trail.