ROUNDABOUTS KEY DESIGNATION AS “BEST SMALL CITY TO LIVE IN AMERICA”
Sometimes a news analysis story ascends to the outstanding—it tells a tale for all to see and experience. In connecting the employment of roundabouts to changing the landscape and function of the city street system, it takes the next step to conclude the City as the best in the North America (yes, its comments on the U.S. equally apply to the other North American nations, Canada and Mexico).
It may not be possible to prove the emergence of a lively, socially interactive community comes from the roundabout, but community designers know that bicycle/walker friendly environments with low speeds and reduced delay for all modes creates the context for a lively social/economic fabric.
Most important, what Mayor Jim Brainard set in motion can be duplicated anywhere. The Carmel blueprint applies to large cities—San Francisco or Sacramento—or very small ones like Burlington (43,000 population), largest in Vermont and that State's Capital, Montpelier (8,000 population). Mayor Brainard stated a goal all can understand for his city: a one traffic signal town with 100 roundabouts.
Indianapolis Star, August 20, 2012
America's top small city: A drive into Carmel may justify its No. 1 ranking as small city
Carmel, with its many trails and bike lanes, loves to promote itself as a pedestrian- and bike-friendly city.
But you don’t have to get out of your car to see why anyone would think Carmel is the No. 1 small city in America to live — as Money Magazine believes.
In fact, I might suggest you stay in your car and take a drive through the city.
Notice the lack of traffic signals — there are only 38 in a city with about 400 miles of roads. Notice the lack of 4-way stops. Many have been replaced with roundabouts.
Think about what makes a small, suburban city a good place to live. Transportation is no doubt a major factor.
Carmel sprouted as a suburb of Indianapolis. Most drove into the city to work. Many still do.
A few years ago, a five-mile trip down Keystone Avenue from 146th to 96th Street took 15-20 minutes and included long stops at several traffic lights — think SUV’s, mini-vans and Toyota’s mixed in with semi’s.
It was a mess.
Today, thanks to new roundabout interchanges, there are no lights. And the trip takes about 6 minutes.
Over the past 15 years, Carmel aggressively replaced stop lights with free-flowing roundabouts and roundabout interchanges. The city has 57 roundabouts, more than any city its size in America. And there are 34 more planned in the near future.
The easier it becomes to drive, the easier it becomes to live.
But it’s not just the roundabouts and mobility. It’s also about low taxes, personal safety and becoming more than just a sleepy suburb.
People in Carmel used to have a simple routine. They’d work 9-to-5 in Downtown Indy, drive home, lock their front doors and fall asleep.
Today, if you sling-shot your way down Main Street on a summer’s eve, you’ll notice the crowds hanging out at places like Bub’s and Detour on the Monon Trail. Plenty of places to eat or grab a drink after hours.
Head south and check out the Carmel City Center, the Palladium and Center for the Performing Arts. Plenty of opportunities to catch a concert or a play.
And all around the area, apartments, condos and single family homes are occupied or under construction. Plenty of places to live.
Call Star reporter Dan McFeely at (317) 444-6253.