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Roundabouts Continue to Gain Popularity

In an effort to promote bicycling in the city, Long Beach, Calif. officials have replaced four-way stops at several intersections with roundabouts. This neighborhood roundabout is one of seven located along Vista Avenue in an 11-block span. omega constellation replica watches
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Recently, the Yucaipa, Calif. city council unanimously approved the design of a roundabout to be located at California Street and Yucaipa Boulevard as part of an uptown streetscape project.

Roundabouts are common in Europe, with France boasting 30,000 of these traffic features and 25,000 in the United Kingdom. Roundabouts are growing in popularity in the United States as more municipalities install them in their communities. As of 2009, there were approximately 2,300 roundabouts in the U.S.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in the modern roundabout, vehicles travel counterclockwise around a raised center island, with entering traffic yielding the right-of-way to circulating traffic.

In urban settings, entering vehicles negotiate a curve sharp enough to slow speeds to about 15-20 mph. Speeds are generally a little higher in rural settings. Within the roundabout and as vehicles exit, the deflection of traffic around the center island and the relatively tight radius of the roundabout and exit lanes maintain slow speeds. Slow speeds aid in the smooth movement of vehicles into, around, and out of a roundabout.

In Fort Pierce, Fla., the Downtown Roundabout is considered the best-known public space in the city. It was the first of many streets rebuilt in the mid -1990s designed to address high vehicle speeds, limited sight distances, and inadequate sidewalk facilities that made it unsafe for pedestrians to walk between Ft. Pierce's historic downtown and waterfront areas.

Curb extensions and median refuge islands were built on each approaching leg of the roundabout to make pedestrian crossing safer and easier. The crosswalks are clearly contrasted against the black pavement by light colored brick pavers. Before the project, vehicles often traveled through the area at 35 to 40 mph although the speed limit on Indian River Drive was 25 mph.

This roundabout in Fort Pierce, Fla. was built to reduce the speeds from vehicular traffic and allow for safer pedestrian access to the downtown area. The roundabout features stone details, palm trees, historic lights, and brick pavers.
Photo by Erick Gill

The roundabout accommodates about 14,000 vehicles each day, which is similar to the volume that passed through the traditional intersection before the project; however, the pedestrian volume at the intersection increased dramatically after the construction of the roundabout.

Long Beach, Calif. has installed neighborhood roundabouts as a part of the Vista Bikeway Boulevard project. The roundabouts installed at various intersections along Vista Avenue replaced four-way stop intersections and were designed as traffic calming features with traffic controls to aid bicyclists.

A bike boulevard is a traffic-calmed street where people on bikes are given priority while safely sharing the road with local traffic. It provides a convenient, direct option for people of all ages and skill levels to bike and walk, including families with young children, students, commuters and recreational cyclists. Seven roundabouts were installed on Vista Avenue with six of those appearing in a roughly 11-block span.

A National Cooperative Highway Research Program study on roundabouts in the United States by the Transportation Research Board found that roundabouts appear to be successful in a wide variety of environments in the United States.

The study notes that with the exception of conversions from all-way-stop- controlled intersections, where crash experience remains statistically unchanged, roundabouts have improved both overall crash rates and, particularly, injury crash rates in a wide range of settings (urban, suburban, and rural) and previous forms of traffic control (two-way stop and signal).

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December 7, 2019, 3:47 am PDT

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