Yeah, what is up with 8th St? + Concerns about roundabouts
City Commission Study Session: Traffic Calming
I couldn’t resist posting this short-clip from last week’s public comment at the city commission study session. The gentleman, Dennis Hansen from Okemos, was there to comment following Ian Lockwood’s traffic calming presentation. Note: I have no connection and did not suggest that he drive 8th Street to the meeting. He’s a complete free agent.
Hansen primarily came to the meeting to share Michigan State University’s and Okemos’s experience with roundabouts. He was one of a handful there to warn against roundabouts. From his perspective, they haven’t lived up to their promise. On campus, they are having difficulties with blind or visually impaired pedestrians. This is a well recognized issue and one of the more legitimate concerns. It is also where improvements in roundabout construction is occurring with changes in design, texture, lights and audible warnings.
In his neighborhood, Okemos, the perception is that yield rates are low and apparently there have been incidents of motorists not being able to navigate properly. This includes a few who have just stopped in the middle of the roundabout. I wasn’t able to find any information regarding this, however, the Okemos roundabout is often used as a poster child in support of roundabouts. A disconnect exists.
Hansen’s complete comments on roundabouts:
Pattern of success vs. individual cases
It’s these types of experiential stories that the community must evaluate and weigh against the current situation and any proposed alternatives. Legitimate concerns need follow-up, and in most places solutions are available. We must first ask whether or not the roundabouts where people are experiencing difficulties are: 1) actually roundabouts, 2) properly designed, 3) they were introduced properly.
No traffic device is going to be perfect, but there are certainly better designed devices than others, including signalized intersections. Lockwood’s short response to Hansen’s, and other negative comments about roundabouts is instructive and worth a quick watch. In particular this idea that one poor performing roundabout is instructive of all roundabouts. We don’t seem to apply that standard to signalized intersections or other traffic devices, so why apply it to roundabouts?
The complete 2 hour +/- study session is online at the UpNorth Media Center. Lockwood’s presentation is included in that video. I’ll be highlighting the key points in the near future.
Lockwood was invited to Traverse City by the city and through assistance by a coalition of area organizations and agencies interested providing further education on roundabouts and traffic calming in general. He also met with a group interested in continue to work on a solution to the Division St. corridor.