Street scene in Carmel
Rendering of a project currently under construction in Midtown Carmel. (Photo: Courtesy of City of Carmel)

In Carmel, Indiana – a suburb of Indianapolis – getting around used to require driving.

Brainard: “There was no downtown, there was no center, just various retail strip centers scattered around.”

Republican Mayor Jim Brainard’s been in office since 1996. During his first campaign, he went door to door, asking people what kinds of changes they wanted for Carmel.

Brainard: “People wanted walkability, they wanted a downtown, they wanted parks. They were yearning after a very traditional community that had been lost as a result of the predominance of the automobiles.”

Since becoming mayor, Brainard has overseen major development in Carmel. He focused on creating a walkable downtown with green space, wide sidewalks, and bike paths.

Brainard: “We need to construct our streets and our cities for people. Not for cars.”

Now, residents of Carmel can walk to stores, restaurants – and even a concert hall.

Brainard: “You really don’t need a car, and that’s a very rare thing in what was formerly a car suburb.”

When people drive less, there’s less carbon pollution. So Brainard says a pedestrian-friendly city is not only more enjoyable to live in – it’s good for the climate too.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.