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J E F F
Whatta Ya Think About Dat?
Premium
join:2004-04-01
Kitchener, ON
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Rogers Portable ..

Traffic Circles

What is your opinion on them? In particular, a large one (about four lanes around the circle on a busy arterial road (70 KPH) crossing a road that ventures into a high school with 2500 students. Note, all students (well, probably about 2400) have to cross this traffic circle twice (or roundabout, whatever you call them). It was finished just before the start of the school year, two kids run over already, including one by city bus. I have no issues with these traffic circles...when they are properly located and built. Just wondering how many traffic circles are placed in front of school in the UK. (and the road would be a fast moving road with heavy traffic -- the idea of putting traffic circle was to keep flow of traffic instead of having the traffic lights.)
--
If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. - Albert Einstein



jvmorris
I Am The Man Who Was Not There.
Premium,MVM
join:2001-04-03
Reston, VA

Query:

Can you put up a Google Earth street address so people can take a quick look at the traffic circle you've currently got? That may answer more questions more quickly than responses to my questions below.

First, is this traffic circle at an intersection with another street or is it simply in the middle of a straight section of a busy road in front of a school?

I've not yet seen an intersection in front of a school here in the UK, so that's why I'm asking. Or is this an intersection at an edge of the school property (e.g., a nearby corner)?

At least in my (admittedly limited) experience in the UK, pedestrian crosswalks are usually located well before (or after) a traffic circle in the UK unless it's on fairly lightly traveled roads. The circles themselves are also large enough diameter to require a definite reduction in traffic speed before circumnavigating the circle (with the exception of mini-circles that one finds in residential neighborhoods, sometimes).

On busily traveled roadways, there's usually a pedestrian island midway across with offset access (often about 10 yards/meters apart) with railings so that pedestrians can only cross where they're supposed to. Some traffic circles have traffic lights; and any busily traveled roadways would certainly have pedestrian-activated stop lights. (And, if there are lights both on the roadway entering the circle and on pedestrian cross-walks, they tend to be synchronized.) Given the ubiquity of CCTV in the UK, running a red light is tantamount to surrendering your driver's license.

Do you have the equivalent of pelican and zebra crosswalks?

Does that help or is it completely off-base?
--
Regards,
Joseph V. Morris



J E F F
Whatta Ya Think About Dat?
Premium
join:2004-04-01
Kitchener, ON
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Rogers Portable ..

said by jvmorris:

Query:

Can you put up a Google Earth street address so people can take a quick look at the traffic circle you've currently got? That may answer more questions more quickly than responses to my questions below.

I cannot find a recent Google image but here are a couple images:




Above before roundabout.




Above roundabout diagram.

First, is this traffic circle at an intersection with another street or is it simply in the middle of a straight section of a busy road in front of a school?

I've not yet seen an intersection in front of a school here in the UK, so that's why I'm asking. Or is this an intersection at an edge of the school property (e.g., a nearby corner)?

Well, I guess you could say the school isn't "exactly" in front of the roundabout. It's on the north-east --> Looking at the map, it's off of Block Line Road (Lenox Lewis Way). Homer Watson Blvd is just to the west, you can see the soccer (football) field).

That being said, most of the students using the school would come from the west, so they need to cross at least Homer Watson or they'd need to cross Homer Watson and Block Line. (that assumes they are coming from the south-west which would most likely be the case). Keep in mind too, further up Block Line going west, there is a strip mall which is walking distance so a lot might go there during periods and lunch.

At least in my (admittedly limited) experience in the UK, pedestrian crosswalks are usually located well before (or after) a traffic circle in the UK unless it's on fairly lightly traveled roads. The circles themselves are also large enough diameter to require a definite reduction in traffic speed before circumnavigating the circle (with the exception of mini-circles that one finds in residential neighborhoods, sometimes).

Part of the reason for the "roundabout" in the first place was to 'keep the flow' of traffic. Homer Watson is a higher speed road (70KPH or almost 45MPH) and very busy....I guess planners figured have a roundabout at this intersection would keep things moving fast. It's not a typical traffic circle, it's pretty large.

Gives you an idea how large it is:




It was still under construction....

On busily traveled roadways, there's usually a pedestrian island midway across with offset access (often about 10 yards/meters apart) with railings so that pedestrians can only cross where they're supposed to. Some traffic circles have traffic lights; and any busily traveled roadways would certainly have pedestrian-activated stop lights. (And, if there are lights both on the roadway entering the circle and on pedestrian cross-walks, they tend to be synchronized.) Given the ubiquity of CCTV in the UK, running a red light is tantamount to surrendering your driver's license.

See picture:




By looks of it, the pedestrians have to cross to 'islands' and not the actual traffic circle, but I can take a closer look.

My guess for pedestrians there are several options to where to go.

Do you have the equivalent of pelican and zebra crosswalks?

They are zebra crosswalks, which is common around here.

Does that help or is it completely off-base?

Not at all. Not sure if I gave you enough answers. There are a lot of people really upset about this location of this roundabout.
»www.therecord.com/news/local/art···en-again

Many believe only a matter of time before someone is killed.

Personally having to use this road a lot, I think the old traffic lights were fine. Right now, you can easily have 20 or 30 cars in the circle, not to mention bikes and people. The government is looking into solutions due to high volumes of accidents. (about 50 so far (some not documented) including 2 involving children). Lights would defeat the purpose, a tunnel underneath or a bridge over top might be too expensive. Rumble strips might be put in, but again, that defeats the purpose of keeping traffic flowing.
--
If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. - Albert Einstein


jvmorris
I Am The Man Who Was Not There.
Premium,MVM
join:2001-04-03
Reston, VA

Okay, the line drawing helps.

Now, I'm not a traffic engineer by any stretch of the imagination, but it seems to me that the cross-walks (on a 45 MPH roadway no less) are far too close to the roundabout itself. Of course, it's built now and I doubt they're going to be too enthusiastic about moving the crosswalks further back from the roundabout.

Still, are you saying that the speed limits are 45 MPH even during the beginning and end of school time intervals? As in the States, I would have timed signals (even with the traffic circle) bringing the speed down to 25 (30, max) during school time -- maybe a timed set of signals that only flash YELLOW during the beginning and end of school days. And there would be signs indicating it was a school crossing, possibly with a "STOP SHORT OF CROSSWALKS WHEN OCCUPIED" type of warning. This should not markedly break the flow of traffic most of the time. I have seen situations in which a duly authorized crossing guard (the old English lollipop ladies, I believe) could actually change the signal from yellow to RED if a large number of people were waiting to cross.

I'm curious to hear how this works out. I've an intersection immediately behind my house in Virginia that is used by my grand-daughter now. It crosses an arterial roadway with a 35 MPH speed limit at a T-junction with a (always) 25 MPH roadway that then runs in front of the elementary school about 200 meters further down the smaller road. There is a stop sign on the smaller road, but only timed flashing School Zone lights on the arterial during the beginning/end of the school day. When the elementary school is beginning/ending, there's normally a crossing guard there to stop traffic flow if necessary (especially for the elementary school kids), but the middle school and high school kids that use the same crosswalk are pretty much on their own. This intersection is going to get MUCH busier in about two years when the main arterial will lead directly to a new subway station currently under construction. A traffic circle was one solution being considered.

Let's wait for a Brit to comment; my exposure is again quite limited to how they'd address this issue.
--
Regards,
Joseph V. Morris



J E F F
Whatta Ya Think About Dat?
Premium
join:2004-04-01
Kitchener, ON
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Rogers Portable ..

I'll try to get out this week and take some pictures. As mentioned, this is a high school and not elementary, so the 20KPH (13MPH) doesn't seem to apply..but as I said, it would have defeated the purpose of a roundabout. They do have some portable signage up asking motorists to slow down...I will none the less keep it updated, there was a Facebook event regarding it today, not sure how that went.
--
If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. - Albert Einstein



J E F F
Whatta Ya Think About Dat?
Premium
join:2004-04-01
Kitchener, ON
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Rogers Portable ..
reply to jvmorris

Well, more stuff on it today...emergency council meetings, etc. One suggestion would be to hire crossing guards for this particular spot. (unusual for a high school) Good idea, got shot down by the Ministry of Transportation within minutes (Ontario Government) since laws prohibit crossing guards on high speed roads. Also, the girl that was hit was following proper procedure, and the government employee (in transportation, none-the-less) has been charged with careless driving. They also want to reduce traffic speed to 50KPH (about 31MPH) immediately, but that itself will take time.

Having said that, I noticed a fatal design flaw when going by it today. We have several mid-street crossings in the city, and generally, in the middle of the road, is a small pedestrian island, which is protected thick railings...at this roundabout, the pedestrian islands have no protection. This is alarming since the road itself is so fast, and being that the southbound lanes of Homer Watson go downhill..I can see in the winter or during a rain storm a car hydroplaning and smashing into a group of kids. They need something thick there that damages cars and trucks that will hit it rather than running over people.
--
If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. - Albert Einstein



PC Doc 54
aka fcapes
Premium
join:2000-10-28
Middle Island, NY

I'm amazed no one has mentioned this yet, but why would something like this be built (especially so close to a school) without also building either a pedestrian footbridge across the roads, or a tunnel going under them, so that the road can be crossed completely safely.

I live in New York now where traffic circles are not very common, but I originated from Bracknell, Berkshire ... which is roundabout city!

If anyone here knows Bracknell, please correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't remember any stretch of busy road there that couldn't be crossed by either going under the highway or over it.



J E F F
Whatta Ya Think About Dat?
Premium
join:2004-04-01
Kitchener, ON
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Rogers Portable ..

said by PC Doc 54:

I'm amazed no one has mentioned this yet, but why would something like this be built (especially so close to a school) without also building either a pedestrian footbridge across the roads, or a tunnel going under them, so that the road can be crossed completely safely.

^^^^^^^

This is what they are asking...why wasn't a foot bridge (or tunnel) built for it. They (Catholic School board and other concerted users) want one built right now.

The government claims it would be to costly to do it now. (about $2 million). That said, the point out that a footbridge was built over "The 401" (major highway in Ontario) to connect Kitchener to Cambridge and it sees less traffic in a year than the traffic circle receives in a day. (about 5,000 crossings)
--
If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. - Albert Einstein


Pjr
Don't Panic

join:2005-12-11
UK
reply to J E F F

»www.therecord.com/videozone/613149
J E F F See Profile posted this video somewhere else. It shows what the problem is. A tunnel or bridge is the only answer.

The local government has clearly put a price on the life of a child.

My excuse for not posting earlier is that I was having trouble visualizing what was happening.



jvmorris
I Am The Man Who Was Not There.
Premium,MVM
join:2001-04-03
Reston, VA

Thanks for posting the link to that video. After watching it, I searched the Record website for articles and letters on the subject and found quite a few; indeed, I only browsed through the ones posted since 1 August.

Pjr, I may be wrong about this (and feel free to correct me if I am), but I can't ever recall having seen a roundabout in the UK that has such a high speed limit (70 kph or 45 mph), high vehicular traffic flow, and a high-volume pedestrian traffic flow (immediately at the entries and exits to the roundabout, no less). Indeed, I believe that 45 mph is about the max traffic speed allowable at any roundabout in the UK, even those with no pedestrian traffic, in my admittedly limited experience.

Thinking about fast (and relatively inexpensive) options, I think the first thing I would recommend would be to drop the mandatory max legal speed limit in the roundabout to 30 mph (50kph), possibly 25 (40kph) ( (in line with common practice in the States in a school zone during school hours where students are likely to be present). Post the roundabout speed limits about 100 yards (meters) before the roundabout, possibly with yellow flashers that would activate during school hours (possibly speed-activated). "Resume speed" signs would be posted about 100 yards (meters) down the roadway on the four roads exiting the roundabout. On the four roadways entering the roundabout, I'd put down rumble strips about 20 yards (meters) closer to the roundabout. These speed limits should not seriously hamper the free flow of traffic but would markedly increase pedestrian safety in the roundabout. Having the signs so far before and after the roundabout would decrease signage clutter in the immediate vicinity of the roundabout. (And I note that numerous drivers have complained about limited visibility on entering the roundabout during to a hill on the central island.)

If that wasn't enough, I'd put speed cameras on the roundabout itself to enforce the lower speed limits.

After having viewed the video, I am convinced that the crosswalks on the four roadways exiting the roundabout are far too close to the roundabout; I'd move them about 20 yards (meters) further downstream. I would also recommend the 'dogleg' crosswalks frequently found in the UK, i.e., you cross one lane of traffic to the median and then have to walk down about 10 yards or meters before crossing the other lane. The dogleg would have the typical UK railings around them to discourage people avoiding use of the crosswalks and these would block pedestrian traffic at least up to the roundabout itself.

If these measures are still inadequate, I would consider putting pedestrian-activated stoplights at the crosswalks, as one commonly finds in the UK.

Ideally, I agree that a pedestrian flyover should replace the grade-level crosswalks, but I also know that this is fairly expensive. It may not be necessary to go that far.

Still, as far as the fly-over is concerned, I would note that one or two negligent injury (or manslaughter) suits would probably cost the local authorities more than the cost of the fly-over.
--
Regards,
Joseph V. Morris



J E F F
Whatta Ya Think About Dat?
Premium
join:2004-04-01
Kitchener, ON
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Rogers Portable ..
reply to Pjr

said by Pjr:

The local government has clearly put a price on the life of a child.

My excuse for not posting earlier is that I was having trouble visualizing what was happening.

That price would be about $15,000,000 for the girl that was just hit, not including punitive and assumed lost wages...the lawsuit is going to be an expensive lesson.

They have reduced the speed limit to 50kph or 30mph and changed signage from "yield to pedestrians" to "stop for pedestrians"

I hope they learn from this a figure out better locations for them...they have a massive one planned just down the street, a horribly busy and dangerous intersection when people don't obey the traffic lights...but I can see issues when you have two busy streets and a busy highway all using a roundabout. Although not a lot of pedestrian traffic. I'll post that when I get back home.
--
If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. - Albert Einstein


jvmorris
I Am The Man Who Was Not There.
Premium,MVM
join:2001-04-03
Reston, VA

Down here in Ole Virginny, you drive through a pedestrian crosswalk in a marked school zone during school hours when anyone is anywhere in it and it can cost you $500. (And the speed limit in the school zone is 25 mph (40 kph); that's true even if the street is a US Highway.)

A "Yield to Pedestrians" sign isn't worth the cost of the sign; it's really nothing more than cheap 'fireproofing' for the local authorities.

After reading the articles, letters, and op-ed pieces in the Record, it seems to me that highway planning up there leaves a bit to be desired -- it seems to be based on a simplistic philosophy of "Roundabouts good; signal-based interchanges bad". In the real world, appropriate solutions are a bit more nuanced.

I am also somewhat mystified how anyone can say (with a straight face) that a pedestrian overpass would cost $2 mil, when the entire roundabout (and it's not a small roundabout) only cost $1.7 mil.
--
Regards,
Joseph V. Morris



J E F F
Whatta Ya Think About Dat?
Premium
join:2004-04-01
Kitchener, ON
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Rogers Portable ..

Not sure why a pedestrian overpass would cost so much, other than having a legal requirement to make it legally accessible to all. Still, we have two universities and a college, I am sure they could come up with something good for the fraction of the cost.
--
If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. - Albert Einstein