Skip to content

March 30, 2011

16

Roundabouts aren’t foolproof

by Deena Winter

image

I just thought this scene yesterday was interesting considering all the debate lately over the pros and cons of roundabouts.

One of the clear benefits of roundabouts is that they’re nearly foolproof — in other words, it’s pretty hard to get into a crash in one of them, unless you don’t understand the rules of the game. As one traffic engineer once explained to me, there are two rules: Don’t go if someone’s already in the circle, and signal when you’re about to exit the circle.

But some people don’t play by the rules, and can find a way to bump into each other anyway, as was the case yesterday afternoon at this roundabout at 33rd and Sheridan Boulevard.

About these ads
Read more from Lincoln Life
16 Comments Post a comment
  1. locke
    Mar 30 2011

    All you have done here is show that some people don’t pay attention. Why should the development of a roundabout at 14th and Superior be delayed, or scrapped altogether? Is it just because some people in Lincoln can’t drive? That’s not a very intelligent, or politically beneficial, reason for holding up the rest of the city or delaying a major project. Since this isn’t even your district, why are you so concerned about it? You should be focusing on what YOUR constituents want, not whatever happens to take the front page of the LJS on a particular day.

    Reply
    • Mar 30 2011

      Uh, I was the person who broke the story about the 14th and Superior roundabout, about two weeks before it showed up on LJS, thank you very much, and I hope council members don’t just represent their district. Issues of all kinds come to the council, including roundabouts.

      Reply
  2. Roger Yant
    Mar 30 2011

    Locke, as a council person she is representing her district true, but also must look out for wasteful spending in all of the city. Yes this is a mjor project, but at the cost of $11 million is it necessary?

    Reply
    • Gene
      Mar 30 2011

      The $11M number is the entire cost for a two-mile project, not just this one intersection.

      Reply
    • natefrog
      Mar 30 2011

      As Gene said, the cost of the entire 2-mile widening project and bike trail (including the roundabout) is $11 million. That also includes replacing the overpass above I-80.

      Reply
  3. Lutz
    Mar 30 2011

    Roundabouts do not casue ‘accidents’. People do. Study after study conducted by the Corps and others have consclusively found, and practice has reinforced, that roundabouts signifacantly cut down on serious injuries (and deaths). Head-on collisions are impossible. Traffic flows appreciably better too, for the hardcore engineers.

    What ironic is this: seemingly a majority of roundabouts opponents are the tea-sipper types; you know. the personal liberty crowd who wants their national (and local) gov’t to be invisible. Well, I ask, what is more republican than a roundabout? You, the citizen, get to work with your fellow citizens in a cooperative manner to decide who gets to pass through and when. No stinking gov’t machines hanging from the sky with their fancy and confusing red, yellow, and green light system telling me when not to impede! What if I’m color blind? Arghh!

    And BTW, what enigeer would advise not to enter a roundabout when another vehicle is already in it? Where that vehicle is in relation to you would guide your decision; not simply that there is already a vehicle using the roundabout. What miserable, and sad, advice.

    Reply
  4. Fletch
    Mar 30 2011

    I think it will be hard to total a car or cause an accident that requires the jaws of life when travelling at those roundabout speeds. Your car can get hit in a parking lot or sitting in front of your house. The only way to be sure your car is never, ever in an accident is to not own a car. If roundabouts are statistically shown to cause fewer accidents, and the severity of the accidents is lower, shouldn’t they be considered at places that make sense? The first one I recall in Lincoln was at Southpointe. I’ve driven through it a thousand times with no incident. Is there an idiot there once in a while? Yes. I realize this is comparing apples to oranges, but I also cross Highway 2 multiple times a day. I’ll take my chances in a roundabout over the semi trucks that go screaming through red lights at 45+ mph any day.

    Reply
  5. Jane H Kinsey
    Mar 30 2011

    The public’s experience counts more than some statistics in far away places used to justify a local situation by some beaurucrat. People, stand up and speak your minds! Public hearing is on the next Monday City Council Agenda.

    Reply
    • Lutz
      Mar 30 2011

      Umm, the Army Corps of Engineers are bureaucrats now? OK. The public (up north) has no experience with roundabouts. That’s the thing. This oppositional segment is apprehensive about the 14th & Superior roundabout because it is new to them and they either don’t have the confidence in their driving skills to negotiate a roundabout (in which case they should not be permittd to drive) or they simply can’t handle change, not matter how insignificant. Roundabouts exist in this city and have been proven effective in their designed purpose. If you are looking for a one stop-sign town that isn’t interested in implementing new ideas (no matter where they come from) Roca, Denton, or Bennet sound like your destiny.

      Reply
  6. in the real
    Mar 30 2011

    I would like to see roundabouts at 27Th and Van Dorn, 27Th and Sheridan Blvd and 27Th and woods. If roundabout are so great how come there not putting them in on lets say 19Th and K st. or 19 and Ost or 19 and P st. Its like Government shoved down your throat’s

    Reply
  7. Mike
    Mar 30 2011

    I was in an accident at that same roundabout a few years ago. Car pulled right out in front of me.

    Reply
  8. Mar 30 2011

    Dear Lutz :: I’m a transplant from Kansas City where navigating in excessive amounts of fast traffic is more of an issue than here in Lincoln and I live north of Lincoln and I have plenty of experience with roundabouts and not the piddling ones in neighborhoods like Fallbrook and at SouthPointe. In particular, I’ll mention one on Ward Parkway at 60th Street where traffic is traveling in excess of 45 mph in spite of the posted limit of what I remember to be 35mph. That is a 4-lane roundabout and it works quite well. However, it has stoplights within a block or two in the north and south lanes to modulate traffic on Ward Parkway and 60th Street is a neighborhood feeder where little traffic enters or exits, at least not the volume that travels Ward Parkway at any speed.

    Having said that, the idiocy of placing a roundabout at the 14th and Superior intersection has nothing to do with the tea-sipping public living in the northern hinterlands of Lancaster County – it has to do with the volume of traffic and the destinations of all those vehicles at all hours of the day and night. All most of us ‘northern county residents’ can see is a “cluster” at that intersection should the engineers and City Council ignore our requests for a simple improvement with turn lanes. Seriously simple. Don’t muddle the issue by bringing up the side of town on which you happen to live.

    Reply
  9. natefrog
    Mar 30 2011

    Lutz: Excellent points, period. Bravo.

    Deena: What you show there is known by engineers and law enforcement as a “failure to yield” type of collision. Those collisions are very common and often inflict injury due to the physics involved. (Head-on collisions are the most serious, but are rare. Rear-end collisions are very common and can be serious, but often occur after heavy-braking, somewhat lowering the injury severity.)

    Let’s think about this a little bit. It doesn’t take much research to find serious failure to yield collisions right here in Lincoln. They often result in serious injury and death (especially when people run red lights or stop signs along major roads) due to them being right-angle collisions.

    Roundabouts, *by design*, mitigate the risk of failure to yield collisions by angling the roads so instead of having a right-angle impact, you have a nice, shallow angle impact which spreads the amount of energy dispersed over a longer time period (lowering damage and injury). Nevermind that head-on collisions are virtually impossible at roundabouts. So what are roundabouts left with? Relatively low speed sideswipe collisions (as pictured above) and usually less severe (due to people slowing down in preparation for the roundabout) rear-end collisions.

    Hypothetical: Since your above picture depicts a failure to yield collision (you’re at fault, red truck!), let’s ask the people involved what they would have preferred: A traditional, right-angle failure to yield t-bone from a traditional intersection, or a comparatively gentle sideswipe from the modern roundabout?

    Reply
  10. natefrog
    Mar 30 2011

    Also, both of those vehicles are driveable. A failure to yield collision at the old 33rd and Sheridan would have left at least one of those vehicles (and perhaps its driver) inoperable.

    Reply
  11. Fletch
    Mar 30 2011

    Maybe fools aren’t roundabout-proof.

    Reply
  12. Denise Kjar
    Mar 30 2011

    Some of my questions are: what about fire and rescue vehicles on the roundabout? I work at the Northridge shopping center and see many calls a day. There is a station at 14th and Adams and one further west on Superior? Not sure of its exact location. Where will the bus stop be? This is a heavily used bus route – where will that be relocated? This is also first and foremost a NEIGHBORHOOD with many pedestrians, bicyclists, – all use Northridge. It appears the north entrance to Northridge will be closed? The entrance further to the east is for the apartments and delivery trucks to Northridge, not a true entrance. And while $11 million is a load of money, doesn’t this seem like a really low estimate for this project? Has the neighborhood been given enough notice so they can attend the city council meeting?

    Reply

Your take

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 169 other followers