illustration of Jordan Kohl

Main Street Carmel needs safety improvements

- urbanism, climate, transportation, bike lanes, Carmel — 4 min read

The following is an open letter to city council members for Carmel, Indiana.

Dear Council Members Ayers, Worrel, Finkam, Rider, Hannon, and Nelson,

On Friday August 18th a pregnant woman was struck by a vehicle at the Main Street and Monon Boulevard intersection. As a nearby resident, I use the crosswalk at that intersection, on foot and on bike, on a daily basis. I take my daughter to school (by bicycle) through this intersection and I see many other children doing it by themselves.

Hit and run in downtown Carmel. Woman who is pregnant was hit, driver fled the scene

With the constant conflict between pedestrians, cyclists, and motor vehicles at this intersection, an accident like this was bound to happen and will happen again if the city does not make improvements to the infrastructure. Main Street is a destination, but much of the street design reinforces that it is also a thoroughfare. It cannot and should not be both.

The city (with the help of Jeff Speck), has done an amazing job of designing a people-friendly streetscape in nearby Midtown. People of all ages and abilities can move safely through Monon Boulevard, because cars are deprioritized. The width of the streets, the minimal amount of street parking, the pavers, etc. all add up to make people in cars feel uncomfortable, as they should. When drivers feel like they are intruding in a space designed for everything but cars, they drive cautiously. This is all great and is part of what makes Midtown a destination for people of all ages and abilities. It’s what sold me on moving to Carmel in the first place.

Unfortunately that wonderfully safe design comes to an end at Main Street. The priority of people over cars is flipped and instead the design makes it dangerously obvious that cars are the dominant mode use. The sidewalks are narrow. There is free parking on both sides of the street (despite our expensive parking garages just blocks away). At the crosswalk where the pregnant woman was struck, there is a stop sign for people on the Monon Trail. However drivers, in 4,000 pound vehicles, only stop if they feel like it.

bicycle path with counter (155 cyclists today)

Main Street has so much potential and the city has a great base from which to build on. We only have to look at Midtown for inspiration. We must continue to improve the safety of Main Street (and the rest of the city) for people walking, biking, or rolling. It will only accelerate the success of local businesses and attract more families like mine, who moved here to live as car-free as possible.

I am not a transportation expert, but there are many ways to improve the crosswalk at Monon and Main Street. Here are just a few ideas:

people enjoying Main Street without a car

I hope you understand the importance of the situation on Main Street. We cannot allow the safety of people to be jeopardized for the efficiency cars. Well designed places are for people. They are destinations, not thoroughfares.

Thank you for your time.

Jordan Kohl

Carmel Central District Resident