The Hoosierist Talks Boho Neighborhoods, HandleBar Bikes & More

Are you harboring a question about Indy or Indiana life, culture, and history? Ask The Hoosierist.

Q: Is the HandleBar a decent workout? I saw a friend on it pretending to pedal. 
Alex T., Indianapolis

A: If you haven’t spotted it yet, the HandleBar is a pedal-powered pub on wheels. For $300 to $400, more than a dozen guests can pile onto this ungainly thing and cruise around downtown while imbibing beer. The Hoosierist has also wondered if it’s possible to avoid breaking a sweat on the contraption (top speed approximately 5 mph). Turns out, it is. The HandleBar can accommodate 16 people, but there are only 10 pedaling seats. Which means if you’ve got a full house, six of your guests are literally just along for the ride. And why isn’t a rolling bar powered by tipsy people constantly teetering into the canal or plowing into pedestrians? Because a company employee known as “The Bar Handler” always steers.

Q: I’ve noticed new signs along the canal saying that the path beside it is now the “Art2Art” trail. What’s the deal?
Alicia U., Indianapolis

A: The Art2Art trail is a cautionary tale about what happens when good intentions collide with cold, hard reality. The original plan was to turn the Canal Tow Path into a Monon Trail–esque connector between the IMA and the Indianapolis Art Center and festoon it with all sorts of public art. Trouble is, Citizens Energy Group, which controls the canal, is not interested in mucking up its right-of-way with gigantic sculptures. So boosters have switched to a much-less-ambitious Plan B, in which public art is placed close to the canal, but not too close. The first will be a mural by Michelle Corollo, titled Gateway, on the new Broad Ripple parking garage. In the meantime, the only way you’ll know you’re on the Art2Art trail is if you spot a sign telling you so.

A boho site needs architectural character, affordable housing, and a pedestrian-friendly shopping district. Speedway seems like a good candidate.

Q: I know Fountain Square and Broad Ripple are this city’s “trendy” spots, but does Indy have another area ripe for bohemians? 
Victoria L., Indianapolis

A: In The Hoosierist’s opinion, a boho site needs architectural character, affordable housing, and a pedestrian-friendly shopping district. Which is why Speedway seems like a good candidate. Here you’ll find Main Street, surrounded by blocks of early-20th-century, Broad Ripple–style houses. Only without the Broad Ripple–style prices. As for shopping, that’s coming in fits and starts to Main Street, which contains a stretch of new storefronts that soon will include (The Hoosierist bets) a trendy boutique or two. And probably a package-liquor store. The kind that sells Slim Jims. Because bohemian or not, this is still the home of the 500.

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Illustration by Shane Harrison

This column appeared in the April 2014 issue.