Thriving bike culture in Indy
Despite the snow and ice on the ground and the chilly 20 degree morning, more than a thousand cyclists geared up for the second annual Polar Bear Pedal. It's a ten mile ride around the city lead by Mayor Greg Ballard.
This isn't just a badge of honor for many of these cyclists it's a way of life. Though controversial at first, drivers and riders alike are getting used to the nearly 64 miles of bike lanes. Combine that with the Monon and Cultural trails, Indianapolis now has a thriving bike culture.
"There's a lot of enthusiasm for bicycling in the city and we just needed to give them the infrastructure, the facilities and really the venues to make it all happen" said Mayor Ballard.
A big part of that picture has been the opening of the Indy Bike Hub at City Market. Since it opened last year, the Bicycle Garage Indy store inside says they've seen their business explode.
At first, they saw an average of ten commuters use the facility daily. That quickly grew to 40 plus and continues to increase.
"The biggest thing is we've got are people who are riding year round and what I mean is when it was snowing five inches they were still riding to work and riding home" said Aubrey Siehl with BGI.
Among that group of dedicated riders is Chuck Reidy who has been an all season rider for several years. He says the city does a good job of keeping the bike lanes clear making it easier to pedal to work despite weather conditions.
"It is a lot of fun it's a great way to get out and get some exercise and commute at the same time even when it's cold," said Reidy as he suited up for Saturday's ride.
"Once you get up to speed you're pretty warm," said Ginger Walker who started winter riding this season.
"Well I definitely have to make sure I have the right gear on so I layer up a little bit, make sure I have a hat . Something that's wind resistant but other than that just a few layers and you are on your way," Walker said.
The other perk according to commuters is the savings. Jon Frost, and yes that's his real name, says he's not only burning calories.
"I was tracking it at one point and up through last May I had saved about $300 in gas " said Frost.
Reidy says there are precautions cyclists need to take.
"Be visible, be safe, have lots of lights lots of reflective vests and obey the laws" said Reidy.
The city says plans are in place to add nearly 140 additional bike lanes over the next 7 years. The goal is to make it possible to commute from every corner of the city.