Urban Fold

New York State Pushing Roundabouts - But It's Not Easy

The safety benefits of modern roundabouts are beyond question, according to both New York State DOT and FHWA, so why is it so hard to convince a skeptical public? N.Y officials are undeterred as they pursue their 'modern' roundabout program.

"Traffic circles have long been part of New York roadways, but modern roundabouts are distinctly different. Today's roundabouts are much smaller than older traffic circles - about 100 to 200 feet in diameter instead of 400 to 600 feet - and they're designed with narrow lanes that force drivers to slow down.

Transportation planners say the newer design - which originated in Europe and found its way to the United States around 1990 - results in improved traffic flow and fewer accidents.

"The No. 1 reason we're doing these is safety," said Howard McCulloch, a traffic engineer with the New York State Department of Transportation who specializes in roundabouts.

Roundabouts also tend to keep cars moving steadily in all directions. That cuts down on fuel-wasting stop-and-go traffic and reduces air pollution, giving planners another reason to use them, said Wade Scarbrough, a roundabout specialist with Kittelson & Associates, a transportation engineering and consulting firm in Portland, Ore.

The Federal Highway Administration - which oversees federal money spent on highway construction and maintenance - estimates 150 to 250 roundabouts are being built each year and supports a goal to raise that to roughly 1,000 per year, said Doug Hecox, an agency spokesman."

Thanks to Bay Area Transporation News

Full Story: Drivers going in circles - and that's good; Roundabouts slow traffic, reduce injury accidents, save gas



roundabouts - good for cars, a challenge for pedestrians

Roundabouts may have a place, however, carefull placement is paramount. Installing a roundabout in place of a signalised intersection can make the pedestrian environment dangerous. These devices keep the traffic moving. The first question that needs to be asked - is this area predominantly pedestrian or car focused? I have seen some disasterous results where the traffic situation has been applauded for keeping the cars moving. Yet only the most nimble of pedestrians dare to cross.

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