Wednesday Waste: Indianapolis’ Bike Lane Blunder

Wednesday Waste | January 23, 2013

This week’s Wednesday Waste is based on a user-submitted tip from James Sheek. Want to help us fight wasteful spending in your local area? Grab the Bankrupting America mobile app and send us your stories!

When local residents describe your recent multi-million-dollar public works project as “an absolute joke” and suggest the designers may have been “on drugs,” you might be wasting taxpayers’ money.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard made adding bicycle lanes to city roads a priority in 2011 and 2012, with some 64 miles of lanes built by last July and another 200 miles in the works over the next 12 years. With costs estimated to be between $5,000 and $50,000 per mile, Indianapolis taxpayers are looking at a potential bill of some $13 million by the time the project is completed.

And how do residents feel about how their money has been put to use? Of some 100 calls to city officials about the bike lanes, not one had anything good to say about the project. One caller went so far as to say “If they paid this guy to do this, there’s something wrong. You could have had grade schoolers do this and they wouldn’t have made it as screwed up as it is.” Others called the project “awful” and “the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen.”

While projects like bicycle lanes may very well serve the public good in certain instances, allowing government to spend massively to fill no apparent need simply leaves taxpayers with a sense of frustration and a smaller paycheck.

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