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Traffic Circles

TGlass

Member
Messages
18
Points
1
Although they sound European to me, and I have very little confidence in Michigan drivers to figure them out, Oakland County, MI has proposed redesigning a two mile stretch of very overcrowded road (Orchard Lake from 14 mile to Maple, and Maple from Orchard to Farmington, for those of you keeping score at home) by replacing all intersections with traffic circles. I was wondering if traffic circles have been successful in other suburban locations in the US.
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Points
27
They can't rip them out fast enough in Jersey. Although in concept they are a great idea, but unfortunatly they aren't common enough throughout the US. Drivers get confused and "lost" in them. I know from my experience in driving through Jersey they are nightmare.

But hey, that's what we Pennsylvanians use Jersey for, our landfills and traffic experiments.
 
Messages
3,690
Points
27
TGlass - I mentioned in the Magic Roundabout thread that we've one traffic circle in our suburban Albany Town - the dreaded Latham Traffic Circle.

http://www.empirestateroads.com/week/week6.html

Residents fear and hate it and most people have no clue how to use it, despite its existence for about 30 years. sigh. For better or worse, NYSDOT has jumped on the roundabout bandwagon, and have a couple more planned for various intersections in our town. It will be interesting to see how they work out.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
35
I'm not sure what stage it's at - but Colorado was implementing a series of traffic circles along a major highway running through or between a major resort area. I think there was an article in the ITE journal or something a while back on this.
 
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3,690
Points
27
Originally posted by Nancy

traffic circles
The interest is definitely here in the town I work for, but it seems to be a long time in the making. Our Planning Commissioners went to Arlington County, VA and looked at the circles there and were quite impressed. But I agree with some of the other posts.....that people are bound to be confused with these things, progress has to start somewhere and correct signage leading up to the circle should be able to clear things up for people...especially if a diagram sign for roundabouts is included in the driving exam booklet.
It's just going to take time. If other countries can figure it out and make it work, there's no reason why we can't.

Moved thread from "traffic circles" - Kelly
 

statler

Cyburbian
Messages
447
Points
14
Well we have plenty of them in the NE. I'm not a planning professional so I can't give you any hard stats but just from observation and personal use I'd say they are better then traffic lights. Of course there are times and places when they just don't work (try getting down to Cape Cod from Boston Friday night to see what I mean) However in small residential areas where most of the traffic is local and they are comfortable with them, they really are amazingly efficient.
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
Some of the biggest advocates of traffic circles in the US are coming out of Florida (as of about five years ago). I don't know if their policy has changed. I believe the two guys that were spearheading the initiative a few years back were Dan Burden and Michael Wallwork working for Florida's DOT. They did a lot of retrofitting, similar to what you are talking about.

The City of Delray Beach has a website... http://www.delrayesd.com/roundabouts.htm

Oh yeah... I was right on the Wallwork guy... it looks like he's in the private sector now: http://www.roundabouts.net/

If you want to search for some examples near your location, you may want to look at Kittleson's database of roundabout installation/design in the US. I think it's at: http://roundabout.kittelson.com/index.html It lists by state/city and gives contacts for further information.
 

Lake_Country

Member
Messages
13
Points
1
Traffic circles that work

How about:

Tacoma, Washington--near the ocean
Tallmadge, Ohio--center of town
Westfield Center, Ohio--center of town
Angola, Indiana--center of town
Arlington Heights, Illinois--Arlington Heights Road
Naperville, Illinois--River Road



You have to use them to make them work. Either big ones, or lots of little ones.
 

Mabe

Member
Messages
9
Points
0
I've used the latham circle for a few years now in my daily drive and I have to go against what you said. Most people manage alright, and most of the taffic doesnt even enter the circle. Yes you do get the people who have no idea what to do. But I see just as many dumb founded faces at the 4 way stop by my house trying to figure out who goes next, and then decide to cave into -the waving game-. Also I have never seen waiting traffic from it back up 9 and only durring rushour is there any noteable wait to enter it. Still less than what would result from having a traffic light rather than the circle.
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Points
27
nerudite said:
Some of the biggest advocates of traffic circles in the US are coming out of Florida (as of about five years ago). I don't know if their policy has changed. I believe the two guys that were spearheading the initiative a few years back were Dan Burden and Michael Wallwork working for Florida's DOT. They did a lot of retrofitting, similar to what you are talking about.

The City of Delray Beach has a website... http://www.delrayesd.com/roundabouts.htm

Oh yeah... I was right on the Wallwork guy... it looks like he's in the private sector now: http://www.roundabouts.net/

If you want to search for some examples near your location, you may want to look at Kittleson's database of roundabout installation/design in the US. I think it's at: http://roundabout.kittelson.com/index.html It lists by state/city and gives contacts for further information.
I've seen that Dan Burden guy and the other guy he works with (his name wasn't Wallwork though, he was from Oregon DOT). These guys give a very good presentation on "Walkable Communities" and how to implement various traffic calming measures in your community. They are available to give presentations at a very reasonable cost. We have had them in this area on numerous occasions.
 

TGlass

Member
Messages
18
Points
1
But lots of little ones would seem so disruptive, especially on a main (sub)urban artery, especially when they would be the only ones in the entire metro area that I know of.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
35
Well, the whole idea of traffic circles is that they are less disruptive to traffic flow than stop signs or signals. Sure traffic on the main street doesn't flow as fast (assuming there are no stop lights), but turns onto the main street from side streets experience much less delay.

The main problem, as mentioned above and in other threads, is that North Americans have very little idea on how to navigate a roundabout/traffic circle. This is the main obstacle to their implementation on major routes - the potential for accidents due to inexperienced drivers (and lawsuits) outweighs the benefits to traffic flow.

Under ideal conditions, traffic circles do work - but only up to a point. Significant volumes, especially where two or more major routes intersect, can cause problems where traffic circles are used - in England they are pulling some out where traffic volumes are too high.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
I know that Berkeley, California, has one on Arlington Blvd-a major residential arterial. It seems to work ok, but it was laid out with the original subdivision in the 1910s (or even earlier-not sure).

I also know that Davis, CA has installed several-they don't work as well because they are much smaller and work more to constrain traffic flow than permit free flow-although that may be what they wanted.

Finally, I know that Sacramento, CA has retrofitted several existing streets in the old MidTown/Boulevard Park area as part of a comprehensive traffic calming/through traffic redirection system. The residential streets are now very calm and very pleasant residential areas. Before, they were suffering from major regional commute traffic. The plan was controversial, because it did require drivers used to barrelling in from the suburbs to choose a different route. And, I knwo that some neighborhood residents were unhappy AT FIRST.
 

Journeymouse

Cyburbian
Messages
443
Points
13
Tranplanner said:
Significant volumes, especially where two or more major routes intersect, can cause problems where traffic circles are used - in England they are pulling some out where traffic volumes are too high.
Even worse, a lot of very busy roundabouts, particularly ones involving motorway junctions and major A-class roads, have had lights put on them. Which sort of negates the benefits of the roundabout... Although, in most cases, I don't think a straight forward crossroads/lights set up would work there, either. Just the sheer volume of traffic.
 

TGlass

Member
Messages
18
Points
1
The two roads here, Orchard Lake (a major commercial artery, both retail and office, there is also a hospital), and Maple (a major residential road) both have very high traffic volumes. It still seems like a bad idea to me. I'm trying to put together a case against them for an upcoming public forum.
 

Mr. Planner

Member
Messages
3
Points
0
Clearwater Beach is removing there traffic circle after spending 13.6 million on it several years ago.
It was so expensive also cause they had a huge fountain in the middle but didn't think of the concerns of water shortages so they had it turned off a year ago geeez.
The circle worked when the area wasn't super busy, but spring break would come and traffic would back up for miles.
I liked th circle, just when you got that many idiots together they couldnt deal with it.

Mark
 
Messages
54
Points
4
More Circles

Dan might agree with me that Buffalo is the apital of the urban roundbaout. They seem to be all over our downtown and city. I have never personally seen an accident on one and I always seem to get through them quickly, even during peak times. Keep in mind that all of our traffic circles are on really busy streets. I tihnk they work well, and can be very appealing.

Oh, by the way, Olmsted designed all of ours. : P
 

JamesRulz

Member
Messages
2
Points
0
Australia uses the roundabout frequently, and they usually work very well, but there were/are two shockers in Sydney.
9 Ways and 5 Ways.
5 ways had an average of 3 accidents a day one year, but it was replaced with traffic lights.
Where there is less traffic roundabouts work very well, expecially after a massive roundabout literacy campaign a few years ago.
 

Craig

Member
Messages
3
Points
0
Traffic circles

Although previously doubtful about the utility of traffic circles, I became a convert while working in the UK.

They're so much more efficient (time and fuel) than 4 way stops or red lights.

Back home in Buffalo (as mentioned above, the capital of traffic circles), I was pleased that the old Ferry St. Circle was recently rebuilt at the end of my street (Mass. Ave.) and that Symphony Circle has been added as well. Although I don't get down to South Buffalo very much, I've read that one has been restored down there as well.

But, even given the number of traffic circles in this town , it is interesting to note the number of people who are flummoxed by them. One morning I observed one poor old lady stopping at every quadrant of Ferry Circle to allow waiting traffic in -- well, the sign does say "Yield".

It might be time to add them to the drivers' manuals.

Aside: a British friend of mine collapsed into laughter when I told her we called roundabouts "traffic circles" -- guess she could only think of crop circles, oh well.
 
Messages
54
Points
4
Craig, just wondering, but do you happen be a planner for Buffalo, or what do you do? I live in the same area, but it seems that Symphony Circle was originally bigger than the new restoration is. Oh well. Enjoy. Sorry if this post make no sense, it is the middle of the night.
 
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