Archive for Tuesday, April 15, 2014

City upholds decision on West Lawrence roundabout despite new objections from neighbors

April 15, 2014


About five months after city commissioners used a set of studies to justify the approval of a new dual lane roundabout along a busy West Lawrence street, neighbors are presenting studies that suggest such roundabouts increase the likelihood of bicyclists being involved in accidents.

But city commissioners declined to reopen debate on the project at their Tuesday evening meeting, and engineers said construction work on the project is scheduled to begin by mid-to-late summer.

The roundabout is planned for the intersection of Wakarusa Drive and Inverness/Legends Drive. It is scheduled to be the city's first dual-lane roundabout.

The roundabout proposal sparked multiple negative comments from neighbors in November when commissioners considered the project. But on a 4-1 vote, commissioners approved the project, in part because city engineers presented data from several studies suggesting roundabouts improved both motorist and pedestrian safety.

Over the last several weeks, however, neighbors near the intersection have been doing their own research, and said city engineers didn't mention several contrary studies, including one that suggested bicyclists were at a greater risk for an injury accident in a dual lane roundabout.

Colin Howat, an engineer who lives near the intersection, wrote that the published studies he read are far from conclusive on whether dual-lane roundabouts make intersections safer. He cited one, 2013 Florida study, that indicated cyclist were at a greater risk of casualty accidents in roundabouts, particularly in dual lanes.

"I can only conclude the 'first, do no harm' mantra has not been invoked and this proposal is a costly answer in search of an unknown question," Howat wrote in a recent letter to commissioners.

City engineers conceded there are studies that have indicated an increase in cyclist accidents. But Chuck Soules, director of public works, said he doesn't think the design of roundabouts are necessarily causing more accidents, but rather cyclists haven't yet learned that they should take the entire lane of a roundabout when using it, rather than sharing it with a motorist.

Soules said he is still confident that a dual lane roundabout will improve safety at the intersection, especially when you account for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.

"Accidents will occur with a roundabout, however, due to slower speeds and fewer conflict points, there should be fewer accidents with less severity," Soules wrote in a memo to commissioners.

Mayor Mike Amyx — who was the lone vote against the project in November— asked commissioners on Tuesday whether they wanted to reopen the debate on the roundabout, given the new concerns from neighbors.

None of the commissioners made a motion to reconsider the discussion.

"I don't see enough information that I want to revisit it," Commissioner Terry Riordan said. "I see some important points, some good points, but I don't see it rising to the level of changing the decision."

In other news, commissioners deferred until May 6 a decision on whether to establish a no parking zone along a portion of Hilltop Drive near Hillcrest Elementary School. Neighbors were divided on the recommendation to establish the no parking zone, and commissioners said they wanted more information from the school district.


Lawrence Morgan 4 years, 1 month ago

Several cities have had several dual-lane roundabouts in the past, and, to my knowledge, all have been changed to 1-lane. It is too difficult for bicycle riders to guess what is happening with cars all around them.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 1 month ago

You could increase your knowledge base a great deal by using, and searching for the following phrase:
"dual lane" roundabouts

The concept of a dual lane roundabout does not scare me at all because I have done a lot of driving in the large west coast cities. The east coast, not so much, but some.

Bob Forer 4 years, 1 month ago

Once again, Mike Amyx is the only voice for common sense on the commission.

Dan Klamet 4 years, 1 month ago

Better a roundabout than a stop sign. No one in this town understands how dual lane stop signs are supposed to work and I want to tear my hair out every time I drive down Wakarusa between 15th and 6th.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 1 month ago

"city engineers presented data from several studies suggesting roundabouts improved both motorist and pedestrian safety." BUT NOT cyclist safety?

This thinking has been around for several years and has been applied to every roundabout request. Based on that statement how can city commissioners ever say no to a Roundabout?

If cyclist own a whole lane then some drivers become road rage irate and dangerous to cyclists.

How to resolve the issue?

  1. Construct wide shared use paths on both sides of Wakarusa such as those on 23rd street. There is enough pedestrian/cycling traffic to warrant such. Active people in Lawrence definitely make use of these wide paths. The demand is real. Use money from the general fund and the special infrastructure sales tax fund.

  2. Create new crosswalk complete with signals such as is on east 11th street south of the roundabout for children,adults and cyclists. I have noticed children on bicycles in the morning hours on the sidewalks coming off Inverness onto Wakarusa presumably on the way to school.

Mi Grain 4 years, 1 month ago

The new 15th street/revreation path intersection will be much more deadly than the roundabout, just like the other recreation path/K10 intersectiion. Rec path=kids+cars=.

Curtis Lange 4 years, 1 month ago

Good for the city! A multi-lane roundabout makes a lot of sense for that intersection. Always did hate the four way stops.

Amy Varoli Elliott 4 years, 1 month ago

Yup now you can have a dual lane roundabout that leads immediately leads you to a 4 way stop on the other side. This will not improve traffic flow of they do nothing with the other intersection.

Susan McDaniel 4 years, 1 month ago

Someone decided long ago these roundabouts are awesome and they refuse to do anything else regardless of safety or cost. I detest all of them but especially the ones that are just put in a regular intersection.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 1 month ago

Safety? Serious injuries and fatalities are virtually unknown in accidents that occur at round-a-bouts.

Education is a wonderful thing. You should try it sometime.

Kevin Elliott 4 years, 1 month ago

It cracks me up how scared my fellow lawrenians are of round abouts. Most of the world have been able to figure them out just fine.

Justin Roberts 4 years, 1 month ago

I agree, most of the world have figured out roundabouts. That is not the case in Lawrence. Most people don't know they have to yield to oncoming traffic or they just flat out run through the roundabout with complete disregard as was the case this morning on Harvard. You can bet if it is 10 minutes till 8am someone will run through a roundabout just to get to work on time.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 1 month ago

Kevin, they've had decades longer to study how round-a-bouts work in other countries, that's why they understand them better.

1909 was a long time ago. Just think, the Ford Model T had been in production for only one year when the first round-a-bout was constructed in the United Kingdom. And, that one is still in use.

I suppose there will be some shrill in this forum that points out that the citizens in the United Kingdom are far more civil than Americans are, and that's why they are so much more considerate of bicyclists.

Steve Jacob 4 years, 1 month ago

I don't mind roundabouts, but I dislike the dual lane roundabouts. I can't get cars to stay in there lanes on a double turn lane.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 1 month ago

As a cyclist I avoid roundabouts like the plague. In fact I avoid busy high traffic streets across the board. Most drivers are sensitive to cyclists however it is the few "road rage" types that make it best to not travel busy roads in Lawrence, Kansas.

It is my position that Wakarusa deserves wide shared paths because the neighborhoods in that area are active not to mention a few million children hangin out. It would also mean less mowing for respective property owners.

If Lawrence expects to retain the image as bike friendly it will more require than rhetoric.

In general I support roundabouts for they keep traffic moving thus less fossil fuel consumption.

One day I see a lot Lawrence residents doing their local traveling on electric slower moving golf carts which would be practical using slow neighborhood streets. 10-11mph would be relaxing. Highway travel is against the law meaning 23rd,Iowa,6th,K-10 etc etc etc. For those wanting higher speeds get on the bicycle.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 1 month ago

Richard, usually I don't agree with very many of your postings, but this one is an exception.

Steve King 4 years, 1 month ago

Try driving through one with a trailer?

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 1 month ago

Watch this You Tube video of a dual land roundabout, it is almost mesmerizing. Glad I ride the bus and don't have to worry about things like this.


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