Cycle around the Circle City with Indiana Pacers Bikeshare.

People cycling on Indiana Pacers Bikeshare bikes

Photo courtesy of IndyHub

Did you know that cycling is one of the most popular activities in Indiana? We may not be as famous for our bike riding as we are for auto racing. But when spring comes around, everyone in Indy starts losing their winter coats, dusting off their bikes, and hitting the trails. 

Across the city, you’ll see countless cyclists exploring downtown on The Cultural Trail. More than a million people ride along The Monon each year, and Marion County alone has over 100 miles of on-street bike lanes. 

Indiana University is also home to the Little 500, the largest collegiate bike race in the United States. Every year, thousands of people travel to Bloomington to watch cyclists compete for a place in Hoosier history. (Cue the opening scene of Breaking Away, which was filmed in Bloomington!)

But one of the main reasons Hoosiers love cycling is that it’s affordable and accessible. Thanks to the Indiana Pacers Bikeshare, you don’t have to own a car—or even a bike—to get around the city.

Indianapolis created the Pacers Bikeshare program to connect our city.

The Indiana Pacers Bikeshare first launched in 2014, giving Hoosiers a convenient and economical way to ride a bike. Since then, the Pacers Bikeshare program has become an undeniable success—and a staple of our community. 

Residents, students, and tourists all enjoy the flexibility of riding a bike without having to haul, maintain, or store a personal machine. 

As of April 2022, the Pacers Bikeshare has helped people go on more than 640,000 trips, adding up to over 1.6 million miles and 16.8 million minutes. The Bikeshare has also helped offset 1.5 million pounds of carbon emissions—which is equivalent to about 25,764 cars a year.

Currently, the Pacers Bikeshare network has 525 bicycles available at 50 stations across Indianapolis. Many of those stations are around Downtown Indy, but they also have locations throughout the surrounding neighborhoods. So, you can easily start your trip at the State Fairgrounds, travel down to Fountain Square, bike through the White River State Park, and end your day back home in Broad Ripple.

How does the Indiana Pacers Bikeshare work?

Whether you’re riding for work or for leisure, the Indiana Pacers Bikeshare makes it easy to rent a bike whenever you need. You can choose to purchase a membership or just pay as you ride.

Payment Options

The most common way to pay for a Bikeshare bike is through single-use trips. Each bike costs $1 to ride and an additional 15 cents per minute. There’s no time limitation, and you can ride the bike anywhere you’d like. But keep in mind that you need to return it to a Bikeshare station to end your trip. For example, my most recent ride went for 44 minutes across 6.6 miles, making my total $7.60. 

For more frequent cyclists, they also offer Annual and Monthly Passes that include unlimited 60-minute trips. Here in Indy, you can get pretty much anywhere you need to go within an hour. But if you go longer than 60 minutes, you can still keep riding. You’ll just be charged 15 cents for each minute after the initial hour. 

(People who receive or qualify for social services can also purchase Bikeshare Passes at a discount! Contact Frank Stone for more information.) 

Start Your Trip

When it’s time for your trip, start by checking out the Pacers Bikeshare website or the BCycle App. There, you can find a nearby station and see how many bikes are available at that location. You can either reserve a bike ahead of time through the app or in person at the station kiosk. 

Once you’re at the station, choosing a bike is a breeze because they’re all well-maintained and easy to use. Each bike comes with a kickstand, a cable-lock, an adjustable seat, and a few gears to choose from. This customizability ensures that everyone can use the bikes—no matter how tall or small you are. The wider seat design makes the ride more comfortable, and the adjustable gears help you adapt to the different city terrains.

The Bikeshare bikes are also equipped with a front caddy to store your personal belongings while you ride. Sometimes you can even find a bike with a basket on the back tire that’s the perfect size for a small grocery run. 

Now, it’s time to ride! When you’re done, all you have to do is return it to one of the bikeshare stations throughout the city. Make sure you securely dock the bike in order to finish your trip. The dock should blink a green light and beep three times if you’ve done it correctly.

Get started with the BCycle App

Next time you’re planning a trip, your first stop should be BCycle. This mobile app helps you find a bike, track your trips, and purchase rides all through one user-friendly interface.

When you log on, BCycle shows you a map of all of the local bikeshare stations—including how many bikes are available at each one. From there, you can pay to check out a bike, and the app will highlight all the bike-friendly streets, paths, and trails nearby. BCycle even uses GPS to follow your trips, so you don’t have to worry about getting lost or losing track of time.

If you don’t want to download the app, you can always pay for a ride with a credit card. But BCycle is definitely the easiest way to manage your bikeshare! 

The BCycle App lets you create a personalized profile that remembers you and your payment options. This makes it easy to manage your membership and quickly purchase single trips while you’re on-the-go. You can also pay for multiple bikes through one account, which is perfect for family trips or spending a day with friends.

Best of all, BCycle is used in many metropolitan cities across the United States. So, you can use your Pacers Bikeshare membership at any participating locations across the country, including places like Nashville, Austin, and Los Angeles.  

Biking on the Cultural Trail in Indianapolis

Photo courtesy of IndyHub

People in front of an Indiana Pacers Bikeshare station

Photo courtesy of IndyHub

Don’t forget your cycling etiquette!

If you’re anything like me, it’s probably been a while since you last rode a bicycle. I used to bike more when I was growing up in the suburbs. But Downtown Indianapolis has a lot more people and cars to maneuver around than my old Fishers neighborhood. 

I’ve had to relearn many of my old cycling habits—and learn some new ones, as well. So, here are a few safety tips and etiquette lessons to keep in mind while you’re exploring the city!

Bicycle Safety Tips

  • You should always wear a helmet while biking—and especially when biking in the city. 
  • When safe to do so, cyclists should ride on the street or designated bike lanes. This helps avoid collisions with pedestrians and cut back on congestion. 
  • Always ride WITH traffic, not against it. Bikes should also ride as close to the right-hand edge as possible, unless following a bike lane. 
  • Try to avoid cycling in a vehicle’s blind spot. Drivers have less visibility in the left and right rear, and it’s better to assume that they haven’t seen you. 
  • Use your hands to signal turns to fellow riders and drivers. 
  • When you’re approaching pedestrians or other riders, use your bell to let people know you’re nearby. You can also call out “on your left” or “on your right!”
  • Watch out for car doors! Your bike is much smaller in a rearview mirror than cars, and people may not see you coming.  
Indiana Pacers Bikeshare in Fountain Square
Biking on the Cultural Trail in Indianapolis

Check out my favorite bike route through Indianapolis.

One of the best parts about living downtown is that there’s always a Bikeshare station right around the corner. In fact, there’s a station at the Central Library within a five minute walk from my house, and it’s the perfect place to start my route. 

The Central Library has one of the many Pacers Bikeshare stations located along the Cultural Trail—an 8-mile biking and walking path that runs through the heart of Indianapolis. From the Cultural Trail, you can easily get to the White River State Park, connect with the Monon Trail up north, or spend a day exploring the shops at Mass Ave or Fountain Square.  

One of my favorite routes through Indianapolis follows the Cultural Trail down to the Canal Walk, a beautiful walkway along the canal waterfront. On a nice day, there’s nowhere better for a ride. My friends and I head over to Central Library, unlock our bikes, adjust our seats, and start cycling. 

Starting at The Canal…

We follow the Cultural Trail west from the library, riding through the Watermark neighborhood and gliding down to the Canal. Along the way, we pass children playing in the park and families enjoying a sunny afternoon. 

The Canal is always lively with people kayaking, paddling boats, and enjoying gondola rides. There’s also beautiful murals painted underneath each bridge, showcasing local artists and brightening the canal walkway. 

The murals fly past us as we reach the Indiana Historical Society. Outside the building, the IHS clock spins backwards in time, while families have picnics on the grassy field next door. In the summer, the Historical Society opens their outdoor terrace for Concerts on the Canal, and that field quickly fills with people, blankets, and the sound of music.

For now, it’s quiet. We ring our bike bells to let the pedestrians know we’re coming and continue heading southwest along the Canal. 

People sitting at the Canal in Indianapolis
People kayaking on the Canal in Indianapolis

Exploring White River State Park…

We round the curve of the Canal, passing the Eiteljorg Museum, the Indiana State Museum, and the NCAA headquarters. People exit the buildings as they close for the evening and then head down to the Canal for a walk. 

Once we reach the river, we leave the walkway and make our way up to the White River State Park. We head north to IUPUI’s campus and ride past colorful art installations along the river. On game days, you can even hear the music roaring from the Michael A. Carroll Track and Soccer Stadium.

(Last time we went out, the Indy Eleven team was gearing up to take on Orange County. Fans were walking along the trail—all decked in blue and ready to cheer on our team. That night, the Indy Eleven went on to win the match 3-to-1!) 

Heading west, we trek onto the New York Street Bridge and cross over the river. We take a short break at the White River Scenic Viewpoint to take some pictures and soak in the view. After all, there’s something special about seeing the city from a different perspective. 

Then, the next leg of our journey takes us southeast, as we head back toward the Mile Square. We cruise down the White River Trail behind the Indianapolis Zoo, and you can hear the sounds of lions, elephants, flamingos, and more just over the limestone walls. 

White River Pedestrian Bridge Indianapolis

Photo courtesy of Visit Indy

… and ending with dinner in Downtown Indy.

Finally, we cross the White River Pedestrian Bridge, stop to grab a few more photos, and head downtown for dinner. Luckily, there’s a Bikeshare station conveniently near one of my favorite brewpubs: Brew Link Brewery. 

If you stop there for dinner, I highly recommend their Black n’ Blu Burger with boneless buffalo wings and any of their sour beers. And when the weather’s nice, we like to take our beers outside and enjoy dinner on the patio. 

So, about five miles later, we end the day back where we started—on the Cultural Trail. We open the BCycle App to see if the station has room for our bikes. We make sure to dock each bike securely and listen for the confirmation beep. And then we leave the bikes behind—ready and waiting for the next cyclist in need of a ride.