Dec 6, 2023 - News

In Indianapolis, people would rather drive than walk

Daily walking trips per 1,000 people in 2022
Data: StreetLight Data; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

There's been a staggering decline in people traversing Indianapolis by foot in the last few years.

Driving the news: Cars are making a comeback, at the expense of walking, after a pandemic lull in driving.

  • The number of annual average daily walking trips in the Indianapolis area dropped 45.9% between 2019 and 2022, per a new StreetLight Data report. That's higher than the national average.
  • There were 200 annual average daily walking trips in Indianapolis per 1,000 people last year, compared to 370 in 2019.

How it works: StreetLight measures travel behavior based on anonymized data from mobile devices, vehicle GPS systems and more.

  • For this analysis, one "walking trip" is any trip taken by foot that is more than 250 meters — about 820 feet — from start to finish.

Between the lines: Driving is baked into Indianapolis' culture and urban design.

Flashback: Indianapolis eliminated hundreds of parking spaces to let restaurants spill into streets during the pandemic, but those spaces are once again reserved for cars.

What's happening: As he campaigned for his successful reelection this year, Mayor Joe Hogsett catered to activists who want more public infrastructure designed for pedestrians and cyclists.

Yes, but: Those activists argue the city hasn't gone far enough to make people feel safe, including by continuing to allow higher-than-average speed limits.

Of note: There have been more than 250 crashes involving pedestrians this year.

  • That's 37 more than the same time last year, which saw a record-high pedestrian death total, WTHR reports.

The big picture: Most cities have seen walking take a hit in recent years, per StreetLight.

  • Nationally, daily walking trips dropped 36% and "active transportation" — walking and biking — accounted for 10% of overall trips in 2022, down from 14% in 2019.
  • Just a few dense (and warm weather) cities saw walking trips rise during the same time period.

Meanwhile, driving trips have nearly recovered to 2019 levels — yet another sign that America is a country of car lovers.

The bottom line: Indianapolis loves its cars, too.

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