Carmel considers new rules for Monon Trail

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Some new rules of the road and trail are proposed for Carmel. Monday night City Councilor Ron Carter will introduce an ordinance intended to make the Monon Trail and area roads safer for those on foot and bike.

Carter said the ordinance is being driven by the growing number of people biking city streets and using the trail.

"Overall, we have more usage and more complaints as a result, and it's just conflicts between different user groups," he said.

And, that's increasing the likelihood of accidents and run-ins.

Carter said the biggest complaint from pedestrians using the Monon is cyclists "going too fast and not saying, 'passing on the left.'"

But cyclists too, have their beefs.

"There are users letting dogs wander all over with their leashes getting in the way and people walking three-to-four abreast which is hard to maneuver," Carter said.

Larry Dawson, an Indianapolis cyclist, agreed. "I think the center line is important and people need to respect what it is."

Carter said while there are already several rules on the books, including a speed limit of 15 miles per hour through more congested portions of the trail, they're not all in one place. The ordinances are scattered throughout city code making it tough for people and officers to easily find them.

Carter wants them included in one "comprehensive ordinance."

He also wants a few new rules added to the list. One would prohibit cyclists from riding more than two abreast.

Greg Wall, an Indianapolis cyclist said, "That's very reasonable because you really can't fit more than two in one lane."

Other new rules address motorists. One would prohibit drivers from turning right in front of a cyclist traveling in the same direction. Another would prohibit drivers from turning left in front of a cyclist approaching from the opposite direction.

Standing along the Monon Trail near City Hall, Carter watched several cyclists blow through the stop sign. He also acknowledged that the 15 mph speed limit was probably never enforced, but he wants that changed too.

"Cities known as strong cycling cities have strong ordinances that police do enforce," he said.

Jesse Richardson, Carmel, whose bicycle is his main source of transportation, said he's been stopped and warned twice about not having lights on his bike, which he's since added.

Richardson said while it "bugged" him a bit, the Monon "does need to be better regulated because there are more and more people on it."

Even though Brittany Berry said she would prefer to let her Yorkie, Oliver, "roam without a leash, I understand why they have rules."

Carter said before police start writing tickets, "we need a good amount of education."

He said his plans calling for brochures outlining the rules of the road and trails and having police start enforcement by issuing warnings.

Kevin Whited with IndyCog, a bicycle advocacy group said he supports Carter's plans. He said there needs to more awareness of the rules by motorists, cyclists and others.

"A good education blitz would be good and after that start ticketing people because people will change their behavior if it's going to cost them time or money," Whited said.

Carter said if his proposed ordinance passes (which could happen in the next two to four weeks) an education campaign would begin with enforcement starting before year's end.