Shelby Street Tactical Urbanism

Garfield Park neighborhood is home to a 130-year-old, 128-acre city park that serves as a hub to the near southside of Indianapolis. The surrounding blocks of mixed-income homes and commercial spaces just east of the park are divided by busy Shelby Street. Because of this division, our neighbors east of Shelby experience higher rates of crime, vacancy, and blight. The brand new Rapid Transit Bus line along Shelby is a boon for transit, but with so many cyclists and pedestrians on the street, Shelby is now a more complex corridor. Thanks to the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), Big Car Collaborative and the South Indy Quality of Life Plan (SoIndy) were able to team up to use the principles of tactical urbanism to make Shelby Street safer for seniors, school kids, and bus riders.

Our goals

  • to enforce speed limits; 
  • to advocate for bike routes with easy access to neighborhood assets;
  • to install bike racks in front of Shelby Street businesses.

Big Car and SoIndy worked on an inventory of existing infrastructure along Shelby Street. The group identified family park attractions, schools, libraries, churches, and senior living facilities in the area. Comparing these locations to high risk crossings and stretches of Shelby without speed limit signs helped us to understand our focus areas and the need for speed reduction from 30mph to 25mph north of Troy Avenue and from 40mph to 30mph south of Troy, which has been approved City-Council. 

Big Car and SoIndy then met with Department of Public Works (DPW) to recommend locations for crosswalks and painted bump outs, and hosted an open meeting with community members to create a plan for traffic calming installations. On August 10, Big Car staff, SoIndy staff, Bean Creek Neighborhood Association leaders, a Health by Design staffer, and twenty neighborhood volunteers painted colorful six bump outs, two safe crosswalks, and installed 30 flex poles along Shelby Street. Check out coverage of this event at WTHR

A small group of neighbors and urban planning professionals led by Bernie Price of Bean Creek and Logan Lane of Health by Design also worked to identify key locations to paint wayfinding street designs and signage on Pleasant Run Trail, where bikes are routed to avoid areas of Shelby without bike lanes. We enlisted two local artists to create stencils and colorful signage as part of a double-sided wayfinding kiosk to be installed where the Trail picks up on Shelby. On September 30, all elements of the Pleasant Run Trail wayfinding project were installed.

We also installed bike racks along Shelby Street. During the month of September, Big Car and SoIndy installed all bike racks, at sites such as Ceremony Tattoo, Listen Hear, and Safeway grocery store.

We are excited that this project will continue through a lending library of tools and multi-use materials. Everyday users have also seen a difference. Now that the crosswalks are more noticeable, vehicles do stop to let pedestrians cross. People are also parking more frequently along Shelby Street and both pedestrians and neighbors parking have reported feeling safer.

View photos from the project here.