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Coming Around To The Roundabouts!! (3 Quick Facts)

Ok,  City of Rockford you got me.  I’ll admit it, I was not very thrilled about the roundabout coming to Main and Auburn.  I was even skeptical and that really is not my nature.  I’m usually a pretty progressive guy and I hate it when people don’t give new ideas a chance just because it’s something different.   But for some reason I just didn’t think it would work at a busy intersection.  I was fine with the roundabouts at Auburn and Meridian, even the one at Seminary and College but those intersections are not very busy.  I thought for sure it would be a cluster#$%!.

But something incredible happened after it re-opened…it worked! People didn’t spend 3o seconds waiting to merge, traffic has been flowing smoothly, and my personal favorite…No waiting at lights (especially helpful when I’m running late)!

Bloomington Roundabout

 

So I did a little research (very little ) and here are some quick facts that make a lot of sense if you stop and think about it.  (All info below from Washington State Dept. of Transportation)

1. Studies have shown that roundabouts are safer than traditional stop sign or signal-controlled intersections.

Roundabouts reduced injury crashes by 75 percent at intersections where stop signs or signals were previously used for traffic control, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

2. Contrary to many peoples’ perceptions (i.e. me), roundabouts actually move traffic through an intersection more quickly, and with less congestion on approaching roads.

Roundabouts promote a continuous flow of traffic. Unlike intersections with traffic signals, drivers don’t have to wait for a green light at a roundabout to get through the intersection. Traffic is not required to stop – only yield – so the intersection can handle more traffic in the same amount of time.  Studies by Kansas State University http://www.ksu.edu/roundabouts/ measured traffic flow at intersections before and after conversion to roundabouts. In each case, installing a roundabout led to a 20 percent reduction in delays. Additional studies by the IIHS of intersections in three states, including Washington, found that roundabouts contributed to an 89 percent reduction in delays and 56 percent reduction in vehicle stops.

3.  The cost difference between building a roundabout and a traffic signal is comparable. Where long-term costs are considered, roundabouts eliminate hardware, maintenance and electrical costs associated with traffic signals, which can cost between $5,000 and $10,000 per year (every bit helps in this economy).

Roundabouts are also more effective during power outages. Unlike traditional signalized intersections, which must be treated as a four-way stop or require police to direct traffic, roundabouts continue to work like normal.

(I you want to know how to drive a roundabout here is a link http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Safety/roundabouts/default.htm)

So I stand corrected and am now a believer in roundabouts.  Nice move City of Rockford! Now can we get a petition for a roundabout at Spring Creek and Alpine? :-)

What are your thoughts on the roundabouts? Have a suggestion for the next one?

 

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4 Comments

  1. chris mckinney

    When the conversation of roundabouts comes up I never hear anything discussed about commercial vehicles. The idea fo these roundabouts came from Europe where they do not have vehicles that are 70 feet in length. I find when coming up to most roundabouts I have to wwait extra time because they were not designed for commercial vehicles. I usually need to use both lanes to make it around.

  2. I counted approximately a dozen street lights at the Meridian roundabout, put in at the same time that much needed street lights were being ripped out in Rockford. How many street lights were there when it was a four way stop? That isn’t wasteful? Also, how are drivers supposed to follow the arrows when they are covered with snow?

  3. Tim Watkins

    Maurice,

    Great post! I think the reductions in traffic accident-related injuries are very strong case for continued use of roundabouts, even if some of the other comparisons with traditional intersections (eg, in terms of lighting costs mentioned by Joe) are somewhat negligible.

    Chris,

    You mentioned that you have to wait extra time at most roundabouts; have you driven a rig through the one at Auburn and Main, and if so how does it compare, especially now that the second lane is open?

  4. Christine, Loves Park

    Suggestion for needed round-about…7th St/1st Ave/East State/Charles St/Jefferson intersection. I’d love to see an easier/simpler way to get to Midtown AND from far-east side motels to Downtown Rockford venues and riverfront.