The Journal Gazette
Saturday, November 27, 2021 1:00 am

Carmel's roundabout path to safer, greener travel

EDITORIAL BOARD | The Journal Gazette

Anyone who's tried to get through Indianapolis these past few months knows the downsides of traffic construction. But the northern suburb of Carmel is actually getting some national recognition for a traffic-flow innovation to which Fort Wayne residents are also becoming accustomed.

Carmel is the roundabout capital of – well, maybe everywhere. Planners have known this for a while. But Sunday, the New York Times shared the secret with America, suggesting the roundabouts of Carmel might not just be a safer way to manage traffic flow but good for the environment.

Carmel has 140 roundabouts “with over a dozen still to come,” the Times noted. “No American city has more.” There are seven roundabouts on public streets fully within Fort Wayne, according to Frank Suarez, a public information spokesperson for the city.

The main rationale for Carmel, a city of 102,000, to replace stop signs and lights with roundabouts has been safety, though critics point to increased numbers of vehicle collisions. Mayor Jim Brainard refutes those naysayers as smoothly as a Jaguar merging into the middle lane, noting that traffic in the area has quadrupled in recent years and injury accidents are reduced significantly because most collisions on roundabouts are less-dangerous sideswipes.

Brainard and his many admirers – he is in his seventh term as mayor – believe roundabouts also fit neatly into the city's efforts to become a green community.

“Because modern roundabouts don't have red lights where cars sit and idle, they don't burn as much gasoline,” the Times noted. A former Carmel city engineer estimated each roundabout saves 20,000 gallons of fuel annually.

That might be enough to make up for the thousands of cars idling away each fall rush hour on the freeways of a certain capital city just to the south. 

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