Jun 2, 2023 - Transit

Indianapolis revives right-turn-on-red ban

City-County Council President Vop Osili talks at a lectern as councilors Zach Adamson and Kristin Jones and Mayor Joe Hogsett stand behind him looking on.

Council President Vop Osili and, from left, council Democrats Zach Adamson and Kristin Jones and Mayor Joe Hogsett announced in April that Indianapolis would ban right turns on red lights downtown. Photo: James Briggs/Axios

Upon further review, Indianapolis plans to ban right turns on red after all.

Driving the news: City-County Council Democrats today plan to revive a tabled proposal to prohibit red-light turns downtown — and possibly throughout much of the rest of Indianapolis.

  • Council President Vop Osili said he will include Proposal 111 in the agenda for Monday's meeting, where he expects to pass it.

Why it matters: The proposed rule is a response to rising traffic crashes, particularly those involving people walking through intersections.

The intrigue: The council is defying state Sen. Aaron Freeman (R-Indianapolis), who in April pushed through legislation preventing Indianapolis — and only Indianapolis — from regulating red-light turns.

  • Attorneys reviewing the law for the council and mayor's office determined the city has until July 1 to pass its proposal — and city officials plan to use that window.

State of play: Given a looming deadline, the council is expanding its scope.

  • The city already planned to prohibit red-light turns downtown in an area bounded by 11th Street/Oscar Robertson Boulevard/10th Street, White River Parkway West Drive and interstates 70 and 65 — basically, everywhere downtown.
  • Democrats are adding an open-ended amendment to authorize no-right-on-red signs in high-traffic intersections across Marion County in the future as crash data supports it.

Of note: Democrats hold 19 seats on the 25-person council and there is little doubt the red light turn ban will pass.

What they're saying: "It's rather sad to have to jump through these kinds of hoops and loops for our city to be able to do what every other city in the state of Indiana is obligated to do in the pursuit of protecting pedestrians in their community," Zach Adamson, an east-side council Democrat, said Thursday.

The other side: Freeman doesn't expect the city to get the last word.

  • "The legislature spoke this session. If the city wants to go against that, so be it. I’m sure this is something the courts will deal with. I’m also sure the legislature will fix whatever is needed next January," Freeman said in a text message to Axios.

Zoom in: A record 40 pedestrians died in Indianapolis last year after being struck by cars.

  • A city-commissioned study found that, over a five-year period, about 57% of car crashes involving pedestrians happened because drivers failed to yield to people in intersections.

Yes, but: The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department previously acknowledged it has limited resources to manage traffic at intersections and enforcement of the proposed rule is likely to be light.

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