Muncie downtown adds bike lanes

Fresh paint marks the roads of Muncie to designate new lanes for bikers and pedestrians in the community.

The collaboration of the Muncie Downtown Development Partnership, FlatLand Resources, the Department of Public Works and Mayor Dennis Tyler will finish creating bicycle lanes in downtown Muncie.

Vicki Veach, downtown development director, said the bicycle lanes are the first phase of the downtown redevelopment plan. The lanes will begin on Main and Walnut streets, continue around Mulberry Street and then end up on Wheeling Avenue.

“Our long-term goal is to have a way for people to bike or walk throughout the entire city,” Veach said.

This goal will involve the bicycle lanes to eventually connect to the Cardinal Greenway and White River Greenway.

The bicycle lanes will provide a way for a large majority of the community’s bikers and pedestrians to navigate around downtown, and “it’s going to be safer,” Veach said.

Freshman animation major Paisley Hansen said she rides her bicycle to class every day. When she heard the news of the bicycle lanes, she was more than thrilled because of a recent accident while riding her bike.

“[Bike lanes] are a great idea because I was hit by a car the other day,” Hansen said. “The driver didn’t even stop to see if I was OK.”

Junior journalism major Melanie Blevins said she would feel more at ease while riding her bicycle with the bicycle lanes. 

Hearing the news of the lanes was “probably the best news ever because I am so tired of almost getting hit and flipped off [my bike], it’s frustrating,” she said.

“Knowing that when you’re riding on the road you’re safe for once and knowing that I can relax a little bit while I’m on the road is important,” Blevins said.

Chris Tomsic and Phil Nevis of FlatLand Resources created the design for the bicycle lanes.  

“I guess we were the ‘end-all, be-all’ when it came to putting [the design] on a piece of paper,” Tomsic said.

This is the first bicycle lane project Tomsic has designed and he described himself as a “child on Christmas morning” when he sat down to begin his drawing process for the bicycle lanes.

Tomsic said the bicycle lane dimensions are based on the standard dimensions, so the lanes are 4 to 5 feet wide. To date, the bicycle lanes are striped and Tomsic said the lanes will be finished in a few days, weather permitting. 

Tomsic is a biker and, aside from designing the lanes, he said he is excited for them to finally be a part of Muncie. 

“Coming from other cities that have bike lanes, I think what [bike lanes are] going to do is help the drivers understand that bikers are vehicles on the road,” Tomsic said. “Essentially, [bike lanes] make it more safe for the biker to be on the road rather than just assume you have a right of way on the road with cars.”

Tomsic said there have only been a few places around the High Street Bridge and on Jackson Street where the width of the bicycle lanes differs from the preferred width of 5 feet.

“We had to pinch the width down from 5 feet, which is really the preferred width of bike lane, to 4 feet because of the design of the road,” Tomsic said. “I mean the road is what it is, and we had to accommodate that.”

Aside from the safety of the bicyclists and pedestrians in the community, another goal for the bicycle lanes is to draw more traffic downtown.

“The cool thing about the plan is that we have been able to collaborate together, and we were able to get it done in an efficient manner,” Veach said. “This is largely due to the cooperation of the street department and the city of Muncie.”

Tomsic said he has been thrilled with the feedback he is seeing regarding the bicycle lanes that are almost finished. The date for when the lanes will connect to the greenyways is yet to be determined.

“It’s interesting seeing some of the stuff on Facebook and blogs that people are excited about [the lanes], so that’s certainly a plus,” Tomsic said. “People are really stoked about the lanes.”