The Indianapolis metro area has developed the non-motorized pedestrian trails over the past decade and these include the Monon, the Plainfield Greenways, the Noblesville, the Zionville and many more. These non-motorized were put up after many issues were taken into consideration and after several observations and research was done by even interviewing the pedestrians who gave their views on the introduction of these metro rails.
Background of the problem
The development of the metro trails came into being after there were concerns from the motorists and the pedestrians. The concerns were about regular road accident caused by the reckless driving whereby many pedestrians were being killed. This brought about a lot of deaths on a daily basis, thus resulting anger from the pedestrians who even burnt the vehicles which caused accidents. The pedestrians also contributed to a number of these accidents as some of them never obeyed the street traffic lights, some could cross the roads when they are too drunk, thus not remembering that they were crossing busy traffic roads, some pedestrians just crossed carelessly, not being patient to wait may be because they were late going to somewhere.
The administrators of Indianapolis also wanted to modernize and beautify the town by developing these modern metro trails in order to compete with other cities which had adopted the same and had some success. With the expansion of the towns and the increase of people coming to the towns on a daily basis, there was need to address these two at the same time because they go together. People need safe passage when they are in town so that they can conduct their businesses in a faster and quicker way without being affected by the traffic jam on the streets.
Environmental Impact on the trails
The trails have both positive and negative impact on the Indianapolis environment. Though however, every town which needs to develop and expand must be willing to take some risks which could be beneficial or disastrous. People cannot stay or do business in an environment which is destroyed. With the introduction of the trails, the following has been the impact on the Indianapolis environment;
1) With the introduction of the trails, there has bee reduced congestion on the busy roads in the town, some people have even resorted to use these trails and leaving their vehicles a home or parking the some distance from town and then take a stroll, thus reducing the fuel emissions from their vehicles within the town, at least sparing polluting the environment more within the town.
2) The numbers of road accidents have been reduced drastically since there is ease flow of pedestrians and motorists. There is little or no interference to each other and if it is there, it does not affect to a greater extent. When these accident occur, that particular spot where the accident happened becomes an environmental hazard spot as some fuel, oil and other particles are emitted to the ground which later turn out to disastrous to the environment.
3) The development of the trails has led to the beautification of the towns. Along the trails, trees have been planted which have added extra beauty. The trees at the same time acted as wind breakers of there are strong winds, they have been able to harbour some dust which could have been harmful to the environment and to the people. The trees have also reduced pollution by helping in absorbing some of the toxic gases produced by the factories and fuel emissions from vehicles.
4) The trails have made access to the towns more easier and faster to the majority of the people than being held in the traffic jams on the streets. Along these trails people and the administrators of the Indianapolis metro have tried their best to keep the trials free from any litter, thus keeping the environment clean. However who is caught throwing litter carelessly is caught, charged, jailed fined heavily for the offence done. This has made the pedestrians to be careful in terms of throwing the litter. Pins have been put along the trails where litter is thrown by the pedestrians.
5) Along the trails small business have been set up especially by the hawkers, thus creating employment to the people who otherwise could have been involved in crimes of all sorts.
6) The rails have acted as avenues where thugs waylay the pedestrians and steal from them. This has raised a security concern but this is being addressed by the Indianapolis metro administrators.
7) To some extent not all pedestrians keep the environment clean. Some tend to throw litter along the way carelessly hence making these trails look dirty. The town administrators have made a habit of even catching and charging pedestrians falsely in order to get money. This issue has to be addressed urgently as the trails maybe shied away by the pedestrians.
Environmental considerations / issues
Along these metro trails, trees were planted along the trails. This was one way of beautifying the city such that it could bring in a fresh breath in these towns. The environmental questions involved included the following;
1) What kind of trees to be planted along the trails?
2) Were these trees friendly to the environment and to the people?
3) What could be the long-term positive benefits of the trees to the public and to the environment?
4) Will people maintain cleanliness by not throwing litter along the trails as they are walking and what could be done to arrest this situation?
5) Could these metro trails contribute to the degrading the environment of the Indianapolis metro area?
The above concerns should be addressed first before any development is carried out. After all these issues have been addressed, then the project can be carried on. The environment must be conserved properly or else if it is handled in a careless manner, anything and everything that surrounds it will the affected.
There are various groups which have actively involved themselves in discussion and giving suggestions on the proposals to expand the trail systems in the Indianapolis metro. The administrators of the town, who include the mayors, the planners, the general workforce of these towns, youth groups, Non-governmental organizations, the government, private institutions and well-wishers have come together to make sure that the proposal to expand the trails have been realized. All these groups raised their concerns about the trails. A forum was organized and all of them were invited to discuss this matter and the way forward. There was no way the Indianapolis metro could have gone a head and implement this project without consulting the major stakeholders who matter a lot.
These groups have come up with very good proposals and solutions and what they can contribute towards this project. Some of the solution have agreed upon to be alright to the both sides while some have bee controversial, not agreeable to the both sides, but all in all an agreement was reached at the end of it all. Some of the solutions proposed include the following;
1) That the non-motorized trails be constructed besides the major roads where there has been major human and vehicle jam to ease the congestion and the accidents and ease access to the towns by the pedestrians.
2) That the trails be constricted as quickly as possible when the funds will be available.
3) That the administrators of the towns will be take up the responsibility of taking care of the trails in terms of maintaining cleanliness and conducting the major repairs.
4) That tress be planted along the trails to provide beauty, shade and at the same time put metallic chairs permanently where pedestrians can rest as they walk along the trails.
5) To come up with a proposal on how much funds are needed in the project and how the project will be implemented in different phases.
After the above solutions were deliberated upon, the groups pledged on what they could be willing to assist. The government was urged to take a leading role to make sure that the expansion of the trails took off and at the same time provide much of the funds needed for the project. The following are the pledges made by these groups;
1) Some private companies and Non-governmental organizations offered to contribute money towards the projects
2) Others offered too contribute their staff who were going to be part of the team in initiation and implementation of the project
3) Some offered to give technical advise on the project before it is to be implanted and when it will be on the implementation process till completion
4) Other organizations and private firms contribute materials towards the project.
All the above are part of the solutions towards solving this problem of expanding the trail systems. There is general good will from all the stakeholders and this expansion programme will be a success.
Politics takes a centre stage on every developmental issue which takes place at any given time. It can hinder or facilitate quick implementation of the projects. This happens where the interest of a particular politician who is supporting the project have well been catered for. Politicians can provide goodwill and provide an enabling environment for anything to take place. They have been in the forefront advocating for the construction of these trails because they are the voices of the people. The politicians have been pressing the government very hard so that this project could take off and then be expanded to other major towns. They have also been mobilizing the people to air their complains either through the protests on the streets and or through encouraging them write letters to the government and to the administrators of Indianapolis metro area urging them to consider putting up metro trails for the pedestrians after several pedestrians had lost their lives on the roads. The non-motorized trails could provide safety to them when they will be in use.
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