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Thread: PRO roundabout editorial

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Plus
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    PRO roundabout editorial

    From the Indianapolis Star:
    Safe and round

    The latest fashion in road design, roundabouts, is starting to appear in significant numbers in Indiana. Carmel has completed dozens of them and has more planned. Avon, Bloomington and Fort Wayne have embraced them.

    Numerous studies show that roundabouts can reduce the number and severity of accidents. They also move traffic through intersections faster than stoplights or stop signs. But they are creating controversy and confusion among motorists unused to navigating circular intersections. If not properly designed, roundabouts can cause accidents and delays.

    That's why Indiana lawmakers, as well as state and local highway planners, need to standardize the design. They also need to mount a campaign to educate Indiana drivers on how to drive through roundabouts.

    Carmel has discovered that proper design and good signage are essential.

    Studies show that while drivers initially resist roundabouts, their acceptance rapidly increases as they get used to navigating them.

    Consistency of design, understandable instructions and driver education are essential if roundabouts are to work. Everyone needs to know what to expect.
    Nice simple to the point - design, sign, and educate.

    Does anybody's State Driver Manual address how to drive in a roundabout ?

    Is there a resurgence in constructing roundabouts
    or
    is Indiana just now catching up with "latest fashion in road design" that everybody else has known for a long time ?
    Oddball
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    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    I think there is a reluctant resurgance. Our state DOT has installed quite a few, as have some of the local cities that are large enough to have transportation planners on staff.

  3. #3
          jhboyle's avatar
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    We are reviewing several possible locations in our county right now, they seem safe, I read an article somewhere receintly about one in Maryland that ruduced congestion by 70%

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    what are the shortcomings of roundabouts (beyond any local lack of experience?)
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    what are the shortcomings of roundabouts (beyond any local lack of experience?)
    Volume & capacity limits. As volume exceedes a certain amount they become a traffic nightmare and accident potential goes way up. Now, coming from NJ I am used to "circles" which are large roundabouts. There used to be a circle in Ledgewood, NJ that had an accident a day there. It has been replaced with a triangle.
    @GigCityPlanner

  6. #6
    Quote Originally posted by Tide
    Now, coming from NJ I am used to "circles" which are large roundabouts.
    Both JNA and I are NJ natives, so we know circles. I used to navigate the Rts 22/202/206 circle in Somerville regularly. There were a number of businesses, including a diner, with direct access onto the circle (with continuous curbcuts to boot). It's a wonder to me that there were not more accidents there, but perhpas the utter confusion and fear trying to figure out where you were going actually worked to make the thing safer than it really was. I do remember times when I tried to go through the circle as fast as I possibly could, but I was a reckless youth in those days. In that, though, I hardly think I am unique.

    It is timely that you post this thread. A major economic development coup for our fair city will bring our first three roundabouts to town. I'm looking forward to seeing how they act as far as traffic calming.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Albuquerque is preparing to install a few pilot project roundabouts and has put in place smaller traffic circles on some residential streets. So far, so good, and the public seems to like them too.

    Personally, I like roundabouts for a number of reasons. They keep traffic moving, reduce cut-through traffic on side streets (which often happens when people are caught at a light), are easy to use (once you have been through them a few times) and without the stop and start traffic, the most harmful car emissions are greatly reduced.

    The drawback I see is in retrofitting them to existing ROWs. The diameter of roudabouts increases dramatically in relation to traffic volume. We had the New Urbanist firm Moule and Polyzoides (who I was not particularly fond of for this and other reasons) do an area plan where they recommended a number of roundabouts on one of our busier arterials. Clearly they had not run through the details because when the traffic engineers did the modeling (based on M and Ps data sets for standards), they found that all of the proposed sites would require knocking down buildings to widen the intersections (details conspicuously missing from the report)! Ooops!
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  8. #8
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tide
    Volume & capacity limits. As volume exceedes a certain amount they become a traffic nightmare .

    This is exactly what has happenedin the community wher I live- they installed some at the busiest intersections and it has become a traffic nightmare. When cars are stopped completely in the roundabout and backed up for hundreds of feet in any direction they lose all functionality.

    Additionally, they are not a good choice for areas with a significant population of seniors. Seniors unaccustomed to using roundabouts will have a very very difficult time learing how to use them correctly - creating dangerous situations.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Iron Ring's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    what are the shortcomings of roundabouts (beyond any local lack of experience?)
    I'll repeat large volumes - single lane roundabouts are fairly straight forward, dual lane roundabouts start to get interesting, it would be undesirable to add capacity beyond that. Roundabounts often require increased ROW at the intersection when compared to more typical configurations. Cyclist and pedestrian movements can be awkward, but when properly thought out this usually isn't an issue. Large vehicles (especially with trailers) may have difficulty maneuvering around the roundabout.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    So it sounds like roundabouts are a good solution on rural/secondary roads that do not carry massive traffic, in lieu of stops/4-way stops/lights. That seems to be the way they get used in the UK, mostly.

    Next question: do large roundabouts that include lights make sense? Isnít a normal intersection better in that case?
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  11. #11
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    Next question: do large roundabouts that include lights make sense? Isn’t a normal intersection better in that case?
    Well, you are avoiding left turn conflicts and multiple cycles with a signalized roundabout. This type of large roundabout is referred to as a "rotary" in New England.

    Edit: IMHO, four-way stops are NEVER a good solution.
    Last edited by jmello; 22 Jun 2006 at 9:55 AM.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    Hell, even KsDOT are starting to put them in and usually we're the last bastion of "old school" engineering and design. I grew up in England and can remember large roundabouts with as many as 8 exists going to different towns and villages. I also know how to properly signalize as I enter and exit a roundabout.

    We've got a small one planned in our TND proposal.
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jmello
    Well, you are avoiding left turn conflicts and multiple cycles with a signalized roundabout. This type of large roundabout is referred to as a "rotary" in New England.

    Edit: IMHO, four-way stops are NEVER a good solution.
    Or even 'gyratory systems' as in the dreaded Hanger Lane Gyratory (system)...
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  14. #14
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    We have a few here and I like them. People were reluctant at first, but they seem to be getting good acceptance. Occasionally we'll have someone who cannot navigate the RAB and doesn't think to circle again, thus creating problems, but most of the time, things go well.

    The ROW taken for them can be large, but we have been designing projects in order to accomodate this necessity. We even have a plan for out largest intersection (two multi-lane U.S. highways) to be in a "figure eight - dual RAB" THAT should be interesting if it ever gets impemented.

    Also, Folks, think about traffic during a power outage. RABs are not affected by such occurance.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  15. #15
    Cyburbian SideshowBob's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN

    Also, Folks, think about traffic during a power outage. RABs are not affected by such occurance.
    And also, think of that 2:00 AM stop when there is no other traffic, but you just sit there because a red light is pointing at you.

    I was able to spend a day at a roundabout course a couple of years ago and the guys (Northeast Roundabouts, I think they were called) really sold it. The only thing they could not answer is visualy impaired crossing (since audable signals would be lost).

    --Fewer conflict points
    --less severe accidents (no "T-Bones")
    --Less stop and go (I think 0 to 15 mph acceleration is the most polluting)
    --More bike friendly
    --More (non-visual impaired) ped friendly
    --Usually more attractive
    Fighting congestion by widening roads is like fighting obesity by buying larger clothes.

  16. #16
    Several have been installed here in NH and importantly, are becoming a default alternative when doing intersection work.

    Roundabouts are significantly safer than a signalized intersection and have very few conflict points. I have read that there can be 70% fewer accidents, and those that do occur are generally of a much reduced severity.

    They have the benefit of calming traffic - you can't speed up through it to beat the yellow like at a signal.

    They should be installed in areas of moderate traffic where all approaches to the intersection are more or less balanced - this isn't critical, but can help maximize the capacity.

    They can add beauty to the roadway network with space to plant flowers and greenery.

    Bicyclists and vision impaired pedestrians are the ones most likely to be negatively impacted by a roundabout. The cyclists because they are circulating with turning and merging traffic, and vision impaired pedestrians because there are no signals to stop vehicles so that they can cross. Both of these issues can be rectified if they are a concern.

    You should check out the FHWA Roundabouts Guide

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    There are a few in Buffalo, if that's what you want to call some of them now. Gates Circle, Niagara Square (although it does have a signal at a couple of points), North/Porter at Richmond/Allen/etc, Richmond at W. Ferry (although I thought they put stop signs up a while back making the design obsolete), Colonial Circle (need to get rid of the stop signs on that one), Chapin Pkwy at Bidwell, and maybe some others I missed. I thought there was one in South Buffalo on McKinley by South Park.

    I remember they were talking about putting one at Elmwood and Forest (not feasible) and one at Elmwood and Rockwell.
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


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  18. #18
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Hey Tranplanner, is it time to revive the "magic roundabout" picture?

  19. #19
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SideshowBob
    And also, think of that 2:00 AM stop when there is no other traffic, but you just sit there because a red light is pointing at you.
    That's why most of our lights go into flash mode in the wee AM hours.

    Quote Originally posted by SideshowBob
    I was able to spend a day at a roundabout course a couple of years ago and the guys (Northeast Roundabouts, I think they were called) really sold it. The only thing they could not answer is visualy impaired crossing (since audable signals would be lost).
    I just saw a presentation from a research fellow at UNC regarding a study of this issue. He is using a micro-simulation to test different designs for blind ped crossings at roundabouts. See the second study from the top:

    http://www.itre.ncsu.edu/itremain/re...t.html#BikePed

  20. #20
    maudit anglais
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    Quote Originally posted by Chet
    Hey Tranplanner, is it time to revive the "magic roundabout" picture?
    If you can find it, you can post it!

  21. #21
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Chet
    Hey Tranplanner, is it time to revive the "magic roundabout" picture?
    Here it is: http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?p=9895
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Clicked on the thread link - No Picture.

    Is this the picture that you were refering to:
    http://www.swindonweb.com/life/lifemagi0.htm
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


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    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  23. #23
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JNA
    Clicked on the thread link - No Picture.
    I think I may have mentioned this before, but I have driven through the Magic Roundabout. Quite harrowing, especially as an American with limited left-side driving experience. I may have to order one of those t-shirts. Anyone else had the opportunity?

  24. #24
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    I knew there had to be an old roundabout thread on here somewhere.

    They've pretty much decide to do one in Rockford, IL, just north of the downtown at a busy signaled intersection (an intersection I use to drive through every day to and from work, and sometimes I'd have to sit through three green lights before it was my turn to go). I think it could work out here, and it would compliment the old architecture in the neighborhood. My dad use to live in France for many years, and he said they aren't too difficult to drive through once you get the hang of it.

    Then, near my hometown there is talk of installing one, which I think would be ridiculous (sorry Giff). Right now the exit from the big, newer hospital Ts into an arterial road, but a newer road will be extended to line up with the hospital entrance, and that road is sure to be busy, as it is a main E-W arterial though the entire town. But even on the busiest day, I can't see there being enough traffic to justify a roundabout. And right at the entrance to a hospital, in a town with a huge elderly population and a declining number of young folks... well, I think everyone can see where I'm going with this. Maybe there will be some industry and businesses next to this proposed roundabout someday, but right now it is all farmfield and a hospital (though there is a community college and a mall down the way). My feeling is that the mayor and others think that a roundabout will automatically invoke some kind of progressive city atmosphere, but it just seems silly to me at a location like that.

    Anybody have experience with sill, unjustified roundabouts "just trying to be cool"?

  25. #25
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by cch View post

    Then, near my hometown there is talk of installing one, which I think would be ridiculous (sorry Giff). Right now the exit from the big, newer hospital Ts into an arterial road, but a newer road will be extended to line up with the hospital entrance, and that road is sure to be busy, as it is a main E-W arterial though the entire town. But even on the busiest day, I can't see there being enough traffic to justify a roundabout. And right at the entrance to a hospital, in a town with a huge elderly population and a declining number of young folks... well, I think everyone can see where I'm going with this. Maybe there will be some industry and businesses next to this proposed roundabout someday, but right now it is all farmfield and a hospital (though there is a community college and a mall down the way). My feeling is that the mayor and others think that a roundabout will automatically invoke some kind of progressive city atmosphere, but it just seems silly to me at a location like that.

    Anybody have experience with sill, unjustified roundabouts "just trying to be cool"?

    You haven't been around for a while have you? Division street has been complete for a couple of years, and development is occuring all along it. We did a traffic study and the ADT almost meets the warrants for traffic signals. We did our homework and are not doing it "to be cool" . We can purchase less right of way, will not have to maintain signals, and the Roundabout will be safer. We have had major T-Bone wrecks out there, and with the circle, the accidents will be more body damage and less personal injury. We also talked with several other Iowa citys where they have built roundabouts and they have had few problems even though they have high elderly population. I understand why the locals may think we are too stupid to thoughly investigate the issue, but a fellow Planner? Give us a little credit.
    ďAs soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fallĒ
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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