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Should the Federal Highway Administration use Lawrence’s roundabouts as a national model?

Asked at Checkers, 2300 La. on April 18, 2005

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Photo of Verma Sommer

“I don’t think so. I think they are awfully expensive, and many towns don’t really need them.”

Photo of Gary Tanner

“Yes, if they want to waste more money. I don’t think they are very useful at all.”

Photo of Donna Watson

“No. I think they cause more accidents than they prevent. It’s just another way for them to waste tax dollars.”

Photo of Chris O'Connor

“Well, I think they are a good idea in certain places. They add a little more attractiveness in terms of landscaping, but if people aren’t familiar with them, they can cause accidents.”


Kyle Rohde 12 years, 9 months ago

There's a reason they're used throughout Europe, even though they take up more room and are more expensive. Because they work and are effective at keeping traffic moving. If people here could get over their anti-roundabout thing, they'd realize that they're effective and safe when people know how to use them.

ms_canada 12 years, 9 months ago

Yes, absolutely use them as a model. A model of a really bad idea. I agree with the above opinions. Roundabouts or traffic circles as we call them are dangerous and confusing to drivers. We had them in our city and did away with them as soon as we could.

remember_username 12 years, 9 months ago

I have encountered only one roundabout in Lawrence that was designed properly and I have encountered many more that are plainly dangerous to pedestrians as well as other automobiles. I don't understand are the city traffic officials proud of the poor job they are doing?

Richard Heckler 12 years, 9 months ago

They are not difficult. Yes as humans we can make these traffic movers work. It's far better that stopping when no other vehicles are at an intersection. It's far better than stopping when other vehicles are using the round -about as you are not having to begin from a dead stop which requires more gasoline. The best part is they allow traffic to keep moving which is one of the PRIMARY objectives.

During rush hour portions of the day there is back up under any circumstances. Rush hours are always going to be a pain in the butt in every city the size of Lawrence or larger.

People complain about drivers speeding through intersections on a red or amber light. Can't speed through a round-about intersection and there has not been an increase in accidents. These are far less expensive than hiring more police officers and on the long term far less than traffic signals.

Traffic signals are very expensive as are the specialized crews required to maintain them. Sometimes as much as $1 million dollars at an intersection after installation....then comes maintenance.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 9 months ago

I forgot one idea. Taxpayers in Lawrence should become more concerned when observing working traffic signals being replaced with new ones.

lunacydetector 12 years, 9 months ago

everyone but the architect hate them.

that's because architects and engineers use the other side of the brain when they think. could it be that architects and engineers don't mind paying for these roundabouts because they make a lot of money?

europe is filled with cars that have dents in their fenders, unless it's germany. $750,000 for the 19th & Barker roundabout is a great example for other government officials to see how they can waste THEIR citizenry's taxdollars.

it's like kiddies in a candy store.

if you won a contest for a vacation that came with a limitless credit card, would you spend freely on anything and everything? Or, would you watch your pennies as if you were using your own credit card? THAT is the way the government works - they spend like they have a limitless supply of money, OUR money!

Liberty 12 years, 9 months ago

The Federal Highway Admin. should only consider using these roundabouts if they want the rest of the country as messed up as Lawrence streets are currently.

Fangorn 12 years, 9 months ago

rohdek: The people of Lawrence as so much "anti-roundabout" as they are pro-common sense. You touched on two of the problems in your post, if inadvertently. First, you comment that traffic circles "take up more room". Yes, if they're properly built, which Lawrence's pathetic examples are not. You can't take an existing intersection, plop a circular concrete curb in the middle of it, and then call it a roundabout. Second, you mention the usual purpose for traffic circles: keeping traffic moving. In Europe and in NJ, they improve traffic flow by eliminating the need for traffic lights or stop signs at some intersections. Lawrence considers them "traffic-calming devices". Their stated purpose is to slow things down, not keep them moving. I agree with you that traffic circles can be a good idea, just not the way Lawrence is going about it.

r_u: Is it the one at 18th and Research Park Dr./Sweetwater Ct.? I think that one was designed that way, not poorly and expensively retrofitted.

Hong_Kong_Phooey 12 years, 9 months ago

If you can't figure out how to use a device as "complex" as a roundabout, you probably shouldn't be driving. A monkey could figure it out!

If other cities want to incorporate roundabouts into their streets they had better make sure that their citizens are either a)more adaptable to change than ours appear to be, or b) smarter than Lawrencians.

Ceallach 12 years, 9 months ago

I love it. If we disagree with something they have in Europe, we are uneducated, unable to be educated, or the very worst thing in the world UNSOPHISTICATED BY EUROPEAN STANDARDS. Maybe we should just forget about the uncouth battles for independence and self-government. If we are very good children, maybe we can crawl back on Mother Britain's lap and then Father Europe might love us again.

BTW, I hope they don't use the bright yellow concrete mini-circles we have installed in really small intersections, they are truly the pits.

Oh yeah, no, I do not favor using Lawrence as a model.

PS can that figure be right? 750,000???

remember_username 12 years, 9 months ago

Well, I've done some investigating and let this be a lessen for those that speak before they do the research. My complaints are not with the roundabouts. They are with "traffic calming circles". One example of a "traffic calming circle" is on 8th and Michigan. They look like roundabouts but do not have to driven around when making a left hand turn (which seems dangerous to me - try it and see). There are several smaller ones just south of K.U. between Louisiana and Arkansas.

Hopefully we can get the city to move the sidewalks so pedestrians are subconsciously steered wide out of the automobile path at the "traffic calming circles". I know I'm a liberal but I think it is in the interest of the people to spend the resources to move the sidewalks another six feet to protect the public. Last month a child was almost hit by a car at 8th and Michigan.

Todd 12 years, 9 months ago

The whole point of a round-about is to slow down auto traffic. (just like speed bumps) Sure it's annoying and expensive but dang, people just won't slow down.

I'd rather the tax money be spent on round abouts than the dang K-10 extension truckway deal.

Jay Bird 12 years, 9 months ago

Damn it. I hate it when I miss a good one.

Jay_Z 12 years, 9 months ago

Another failed attempt by the city of Lawrence to implement a roundabout: on Crestline just north of 9th street. This intersection is by no means a "roundabout", but more like a street that curves around where they put parking blocks and yellow pylons down the middle of the curve.

ms_canada 12 years, 9 months ago

Hong Kong - you little monkey! (meant in a nice way,HK) Would you care to tell us how a monkey would navigate a traffic circle? If you check back to the Jan. 4 forum,(where we flogged this horse before) you can read my comment and the directions that we were given on the proper procedure to follow in the navigation of the circles. I would be interested to know what you think of those directions. And anyone else.

donsalsbury 12 years, 9 months ago

Isn't it wonderful how people in the article were saying that there have been no accidents at 19th and Barker since the roundabout was installed?

No wonder, since now people like myself intentionally avoid that means any accidents that people get into will be as a result of driving somewhere other than through the circle...voila! no accidents in the roudabout.

lunacydetector 12 years, 9 months ago

women don't shave their armpits or legs in some european countries, does this mean that women should do the same in this country?

someone is trying to rally a group to protest the roundabouts when lawrence receives them. i think that is a grand idea! they could have a protest at every roundabout.

i'd hope the city shows the worthless roundabout on harvard - bwahahahahaha

lunacydetector 12 years, 9 months ago

...that is 'when lawrence receives the out of state visitors.'

lunacydetector 12 years, 9 months ago

i bet the accident rate they quote at 19th & Barker is BOGUS.

Ceallach 12 years, 9 months ago

They may apply the same fuzzy math used to determine property values. You know, adjusted to this, adjusted to that, and the this and that are figures determined by whom? By them!

Fangorn 12 years, 9 months ago

donsalsbury makes an excellent point about the displacement of accidents. They haven't necessarily been reduced, merely redistributed. This same analysis can and should be applied to a wide array of issues. Unfortunately, we're more prone to take the quick-fix.

raven 12 years, 9 months ago

I agree that I do not like the "traffic circles" I suppose those are the ones that are basically four yellow concrete blocks in the middle of an intersection. However, in extremely busy intersections a roundabout such as the one of campus can prove very useful. Everyone is still able to get around and it controls the flow of traffic much better. I like the one at 19th and Barker as well. Roundabouts do not bother me, I like them better than stop signs.

pongo 12 years, 9 months ago

yes the fed's should examine the roundabouts effective traffic flow and a flow the neighborhood in use and aesthetic.

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