Commentary by Matthew Douglass
I understand the Carmel Land Use and Annexation Committee and the Carmel City Council are considering revisions to the Carmel Clay Comprehensive Plan, including the Thoroughfare Plan and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Facility Plan. Under consideration are reductions in bike and pedestrian facilities from the current plan. As a resident who brought his family here five years ago largely because of the growing multi-use paths, I would like to encourage the planners to continue the development of vehicular, bicycle, pedestrian and mass transportation called for in the Comprehensive Plan. There is a groundswell of demand, here and nationwide, for bicycle, pedestrian and mass transportation. People want multi-use trails and ways to connect to other communities. Carmel has a strong start and one of the most forward-thinking Comprehensive Plans, but must continue on the current path to be the community we want for ourselves and our children in the future.
We picked a home at 116th Street and the Monon Trail because it was connected by both north-south and east-west multi-use paths. Now, we often walk to the Monon Center, to the farmers market, and to restaurants in the City Center and the Arts District. We bike north to Clay Terrace, Greyhound Pass and other shopping. I commute south to work in Indianapolis by bicycle most days, even in winter. I sometimes ride east to the White River and can easily ride to Fishers, all safely within trails and bike lanes. My 11-year-old son and I have found and explored virtually every Carmel park and playground by bicycle.
But many of our neighborhoods are not yet connected by east-west or north-south paths. The western half of Carmel lags far behind in trail connectedness. The roads to West Park are way too busy and narrow for my son and I to bike there. There is no good way to ride to Zionsville, Keystone at the Crossing or Castleton Square. It is very difficult to cross Meridian by bicycle or on foot. Big roads are big barriers to foot and bike travel; sometimes one path on one side is not enough.
The Carmel Clay Thoroughfare and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Facility Plans solve these problems and continue Carmel’s progress to be the community we want for ourselves and for our children in the future. I urge the Land Use and Annexation Committee and the city council not to reduce pedestrian or bicycle facilities but rather to move ahead with the plans as written and give the greatest consideration possible to improving our walking and bicycling.
Matthew Douglass is a self-described Carmel resident, father, husband, cyclist and pedestrian.