By Justin Harter
Sometimes I think residents of Indianapolis forget they live in a city. It’s sort of like the person who buys a house in Broad Ripple or Fountain Square and then complains about the noise from bars, music venues, and nighttime revelry. Living in a city is messy. Yet it’s that inherent messiness that draws us to cities in the first place.
If you wanted to live somewhere with less crime, you could live in Owen County. If you wanted to live somewhere without scooters and bicyclists trying to get to work, you could live in Putnamville. If you wanted to live somewhere without traffic congestion, you could live in Muncie. But two million people have decided, “No, I need to be in Indianapolis.”
We live in Indianapolis because it gives us options. It’s nice knowing if a concert comes through Indiana, it will likely stop in Indianapolis. If a new trend comes to the Midwest, Indianapolis will be there to receive it. If a new service or other business wants to come to Indiana, they’re likely to pick Indianapolis among the first places to try. Smart cities give their residents options.
It’s easy to forget, but Indianapolis gives us options we can’t get in other places. If you want some place quiet to live, there are the suburbs. If you want to live far away from highways, there are neighborhoods like Irvington. If you want options in transportation there are cars, ride-share, bicycles, scooters, and more. If you want options in entertainment or dining or athletics or education, you have them here. We’re lucky to live in a city that supplies us options in how we live at such an affordable price. We’d do well to identify and figure out ways to expand options at every opportunity — that might even help lower crime rates and improve people’s lives.
This is why it’s not just harmful but rude when people try to take other people’s options away. Tens of people jumped at the opportunity to take away and limit something as harmless as a scooter — arguably the best solution to one of the hardest problems in urban micro-mobility. And something we see more of in low-income neighborhoods. Neighborhoods across Indianapolis increasingly come together only to keep people out by opposing modest mid-density housing. There are still people who get mad about gay and lesbian couples living together!
Living in a city is messy, but that mess works out to a strong economy and quality of life if people are free to work out what’s best for them so long as it doesn’t make you a victim. There’s no reason a driver has to get mad at a cyclist — maybe the cyclist is trying to lose weight or save money for school. Just slow down for a second. There’s no reason to get mad at the gay couple next door — maybe their combined wealth will fix up the house they just bought. Just try to learn their names. There’s no reason to get mad at a scooter — maybe it helps get someone to a job interview on time by shaving a few minutes off a commute. If one falls over, go pick it up. Pretend it’s like anything else that fell off the back of a truck. There’s no reason to get mad at the music festival down the road — maybe it’s what made your property so valuable. Try to enjoy the music.
Don’t forget you live in a city that has and should continue to offer its residents options.
Justin Harter is the Chair of the Libertarian Party of Marion County. He is also a small business owner living and working in Indianapolis.