Brainard heard on European radio


Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard appeared earlier this month on German Radio DW, which is broadcast on 150 English-speaking stations throughout Europe. Here are a few excerpts from his interview:

DW: “Do you think the Old World can teach the New World a few things about livable cities?”

Jim Brainard: “Europe certainly has a much longer history of designing walkable cities than the United States. In my city, we have more roundabouts than any other city in the United States. On our major roads we have over 17 roundabouts, on our minor roads over 80 – and that’s for about 80,000 people. And we’ve lowered our accident rate by about 80 percent as a result.”

DW: “You’ve obviously traveled quite a bit throughout Europe. Which cities on this side of the pond tick all the right boxes as far as you’re concerned?”

JB: “Every country has something to offer, I think. I was fortunate to spend some time during my graduate studies in England, where I saw my first roundabout – that was in 1981. Just recently we were in France, Italy, Austria and Germany. In Majorca, Spain, I saw a roundabout intersection configuration that we copied and then modified here. But the key is that Europe, of course, has far more history than we do of designing walkable, pedestrian-friendly streets.”

DW: “Carmel has tripled in size over the last 12 years. Do you think that’s evidence that many Americans want to live in a city that has more of a European flavor?”

JB: “Absolutely! As Americans – those of us who can afford to do so – we travel to Europe yearly on vacation. And we enjoy sitting in 300-year-old piazzas, town squares and sidewalk cafes. For us it always begs the question: Why haven’t we built cities like this? Europe’s done a beautiful job since World War II rebuilding and restoring these older cities. And I think there’s great admiration on the part of many Americans for European cities. As I’m out talking with people, I oftentimes hear things like, ‘This is just like being in Europe.’ We have a lot to learn from Europe, and it just makes sense to build our cities with design principles in mind that have been used for centuries.”

DW: “But have you experienced opposition to some of the things you’ve introduced over the years?”

JB: “Yes, there’s always been a fair share of naysayers. But I think there’s been a referendum on these ideas with my election every time and I’ve won five of them now. So I think the majority of people do like it.”

DW: “What new plans are there on the agenda in Carmel?”

JB: “We’re continuing to build out our city center, to connect the old village area with its arts and design center with our new master-planned, mixed use, European-style downtown. We’re looking at more mixed use development in the fringes of the city as well. We’re looking at making sure that every new neighborhood is connected with a pedestrian walkway or bikeway to our new downtown areas. We still have a lot of land that’s undeveloped within our city limits so we’re looking at developing that land very differently to what’s been done over the last 50 or 60 years.”


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