Ditch third lane, roundabout consultant says
I am a bit concerned that the Waterloo Region is striking out so far on their own with respect to roundabouts. Seeing as the Ontario government really hasn't set any laws in place governing how they are constructed, or how the traffic is to behave inside it, I applaud the region for building them, but start to wonder why we are hiring these so called consultants who appear to have no more experience in dealing with them than the average motorist.KITCHENER — A traffic consultant says a crash-prone roundabout at Homer Watson Boulevard and Block Line Road should get rid of its unnecessary third lane.
But leave the crosswalks where they are. And stop telling baffled drivers to signal left turns. Keep it simple and stress right signals upon exit.
The region’s biggest, busiest and most controversial roundabout opened last August to dozens of fender-benders and a high school student hit by a bus in a crosswalk. Collisions have declined since November.
“We think the roundabout’s well-designed,” said traffic engineer Brian Malone of the global engineering firm CIMA+.
To improve safety, politicians and planners have revised signage, lowered nearby speed limits and added school crossing guards. Malone’s firm, hired by regional government to review the circle, has made 14 further recommendations. Politicians will consider them Jan. 31. Many relate to paint on asphalt and signage.
“I think that what they’re suggesting by and large can be easily implemented,” Regional Chair Ken Seiling said.
Regional traffic planners disagree with three consultant recommendations.
There’s agreement that crosswalks should stay put despite calls to move them away from circulating traffic.
If crosswalks are placed outside the circle, pedestrians would ignore them, traffic speeds would be faster, placing pedestrians at greater risk, and it would be at odds with other roundabouts, traffic planners agree.
Where planners disagree:
• Ditching the partial third lane. The third lane is not needed for today’s traffic but is meant to train drivers for traffic in 2021. It adds complexity and going to two lanes “would reduce some of the conflicts that are present now,” Malone said. Regional planners want to wait to see how traffic responds when Block Line is extended to Courtland Avenue.
• Stopping signalling left turns. Regional planners argue left-turn signals help drivers yield and don’t cause collisions. This is British practice. Consultants say it’s a good theory but signalling left is too challenging for too many. “It’s an elevated level of skill,” Malone said. “It gets simpler if the circulating driver has less to do.”
• Change the wording beneath yield signs. Consultants recommend ‘Yield to All Traffic in Roundabout’ but regional planners favour ‘To Oncoming Traffic.’
This article seems to suggest that signalling in a roundabout is too complicated of a task for most drivers. I see many drivers who seem to be able to talk on their phones, or text while driving just fine. Today I went through the Ira Needles course of roundabouts with a coffee in one hand, and I was able to signal without difficulty. I am pretty sure this doesn't qualify me as some kind of advanced driver or human being.
My question is, has anyone actually compared our roundabouts with the British or European roundabouts? I realize the general concept is the same, but has there been a real comparison: ratios, measurements, signage, statistics for use, accidents, etc? Rather than reinvent the wheel and call something that has been used for 60 years+ in another jurisdiction "new" would we not rather copy something that is working?
From what I understand, roundabouts in Britain tend to be similar to ours (though smaller, because their cars are smaller and shorter, so can turn faster; plus, they're better drivers). In Europe, though, I'm fairly certain they only use roundabouts in locations where more than two streets intersect: for example, roundabouts in Paris have about five streets intersecting, so the roundabout is actually useful in that sense. While our roundabouts are used more as typical intersections, theirs are used as ways to intersect 3 or more streets.
At least, that's how I understand it. Don't quote me on that.
Also, welcome to the forums!
Actually, quite the opposite. Britain has some of the largest roundabouts in the world - some even directing traffic off of motorways just like collector lanes. I have seen some that are 4 or 5 lanes deep. Furthermore, many busy roundabouts are also regulated by traffic lights (sort of a combination of both). It works. European drivers are much more clever than North America drivers, i'm ashamed to admit. Spaces are tighter and dare i say, they are more evolved?
It's certainly true that North American drivers are accustomed to larger roads, wider turning radii, and larger vehicles on average. Europe has things on a smaller scale (on average), so drivers from there certainly know how to navigate more cautiously and with a tighter awareness.
There's plenty evidence to support this reading, primarily the success of North American road diet programmes for promoting safety, as well as the little matter of many many North Americans driving in European countries all the time without issue.
"I have always believed that what is originally an abuse does not cease to be one by having become customary."
Last edited by metropolis; 05-14-2012 at 02:56 PM.
Region's new video answers the question: How the heck do you drive in a roundabout?"
July 11, 2012 | Region of Waterloo | Link
This year’s 2012 Roundabout education campaign, "Learn the Turn! ... Roundabout Essentials 2012" features a new roundabout training video. The video entitled, “How the heck do you drive in a roundabout?” instructs viewers on essential roundabout driving skills in order to drive a roundabout properly, safely and easily.
This video takes the viewer, step-by-step through rules of roundabouts and the thought processes on approaching, driving through and exiting a roundabout. It covers the basic rules of roundabouts, the meaning of roundabout signage, signaling, pedestrians, and trucks in roundabouts.
The video was produced to reach a variety of audiences and has been distributed widely to City and Regional libraries, high schools, driving schools, insurance companies, and local businesses. It can also be viewed in its entirety or in smaller “chapters” on the Region’s roundabout website, www.goroundabout.ca, as well as on the Region’s YouTube Channel at http://bit.ly/NkxH97.
“In this year’s roundabout education campaign we get back to basics”, said Bob Henderson, Manager of Transportation Engineering. “This video is a great refresher for those who currently drive through roundabouts on a regular basis and a great primer for those who are just learning the turn. We encourage you to watch and share the video with your friends and family.”
Since 2004, roundabouts have been an important part of our roadway landscape in Waterloo Region. These circular intersections improve road safety, manage increased traffic demand, and help improve air quality by eliminating unnecessary stops and idling.
I was agnostic about roundabouts when they appeared in the region. Since then I've come to prefer them over traffic lights for intersections that are not heavily used and about evenly accessed from all four directions.
I now become frustrated waiting for a long red on an empty intersection. I cannot help but long for a roundabout in those cases.
The roundabout on Homer Watson and Block Line Road is indeed difficult to navigate and it is very unclear if its preferable over a good old traffic light.
Last edited by BuildingScout; 07-12-2012 at 02:47 PM.
They forgot to remind truck drivers that they also need to yield to traffic already in the roundabout. I was cut off on the roundabout in front of RIM campus by a truck that had no intention of entering with caution.
I think this video is a bit of a fail. Give me short clips that interest me and pertinent to me. I can see most people getting disinterested before the video is over. I don't want to hear about things I already know .
When visiting someone in France, we rented a car and covered a total distance that would approximate the entire width of the country. There were roundabouts everywhere – in cities, on highways, linking major regional roads. They don’t use a traffic light unless they have to - for example, in physically constrained locations in inner cities.
Not once did I see anyone having the slightest difficulty navigating a roundabout. In fact, they just whizzed through them very efficiently in their mostly tiny cars.
I was also amazed to see everyone on their multi-lane expressways immediately move over into the absolute right-most lane after passing other cars.
We seem to have trouble comprehending both of these techniques. So is it possible that the national I.Q. in France is higher than ours?
I don’t think so, because I also noticed some really dumb things they do there. For instance, they maintain an awful lot of really old buildings. I mean, what thinking person would want to live or work or go to a concert in one of those timeworn structures? Also, in Nantes, their 5th biggest city, they had an LRT system in a downtown full of 5 and 6 story buildings. No skyscrapers (well, just one)! I mean, how could rapid transit work in a place like that?
So, basically, the French are not too smart, except they are kind of savants with respect to roundabouts and passing.
This is a compromise of sorts: don't tailgate if you are speeding, but don't stay on the high speed lane unless you are passing.
The French also have a reasonable 150km/h speed limit AND photo-radar all over their highways, as opposed to the utterly ridiculous 100km/h speed "limit" on the 400 series highways with an effective limit of 135km/h or so.
Last edited by BuildingScout; 07-13-2012 at 12:54 AM.
Yes I am. And yes they did, I think.Are you being facetious? Because midrise and LRT work well together, I understand...
Nantes was named by Time magazine in 2004 as "Europe's most liveable city". I could speculate from observation as to why, but that would be for another thread, I guess. I can say that our son, who theretofore had been a North American Big City fan, was entirely converted by living in Nantes for a year. He was sorry to leave.
I remember touring around the Netherlands some years back - except in the densest city centres, every junction was either a roundabout or had lights (and almost always separate lights for bike traffic). Their suburbia still has arterials, but there are far more side streets opening directly on them (and almost invariably those are woonerfs). Great system.
Region to Finally Paint Lines in RoundaboutsThe Record | Jeffy O. | Sep 21 2012 | Link
Over the next year traffic planners intend to:
• Paint circulatory lanes in all regional roundabouts, including arrows to point drivers in the right direction.
• Paint symbols on approach lanes to help drivers pick the correct lane.
• Paint “shark teeth” markings to delineate entrances.
It's about god damn time.
The article is actually about the collision rates. They have stayed constant; not the drop that was hoped for once people learned how to drive them. ("constant" meaning collisions/vehicle. Traffic at roundabouts has increased, collisions have increased at the same rate)
It's no wonder people haven't gotten better at them, when they've been chronically under-painted. Remove the painted lines from Ottawa/Homer-Watson, and watch as accidents skyrocket. There are pretty clear worldwide standards on how to paint these things, and for some reason, the Region has been fighting for 8 years now to blaze their own trail.
Apparently the reason:
Most of these reasons I don't see how painted lines would affect them, particularly wrong-way driving, which I would imagine it having the opposite effect, of helping to draw you towards the nice lanes in front of you.Planners had feared that painting in some circles might encourage speeding, dissuade yielding, invite drivers to circulate beside trucks, or even encourage drivers to circulate the wrong way.
Having recently returned form a trip to Europe, I have to say I disagree.
Few roundabouts have lines painted in them, especially the multiple lane ones (up to 8 that I saw in Paris). The difference is simply that signaling to exit the roundabout there is tantamount to religion and the one time I forgot to I had two sets of arms go up in the air from drivers waiting to enter where I had just exited, just so I would never forget again.
Signaling would eliminate many of the pedestrian and vehicular issues associated with local roundabouts in my mind and should be enforced... I'm not sure the lines will.