St. John’s is struggling with the challenge of increased traffic congestion. Roundabouts could be part of the solution.
A roundabout is a circular intersection in which vehicular traffic is slowed, and flows almost continuously in one direction around a central hub. They are utilised successfully around the world.
I travelled in P.E.I. this summer, when traffic is at its peak due to the influx of tourists, and noted that since 2010, that province has constructed five roundabouts. While initially met with some trepidation by residents there, they have since been embraced as a success. Traffic flows more smoothly and safely.
Roundabouts could work here, as well.
Roundabouts are better than intersections for two main reasons. Firstly, they reduce delays because they allow for a continuous flow of traffic. There is no arbitrary stopping based on a timed traffic signal. Traffic flow is controlled by the drivers themselves.
Secondly, roundabouts are safer than signal-controlled intersections because they eliminate the possibility of T-bone collisions. Speeds are reduced and vehicles do not come at each other either head-on or at right angles, so the possibility for the most dangerous types of collisions is eliminated.
Roundabouts also benefit pedestrians. Walkers are routed away from the intersection, where the vehicles enter, to separate crosswalks where they are able to safely cross during any gap in traffic rather than having to wait for a traffic signal.
There are several key thoroughfares with multiple intersections in our city that seem to be crying out for roundabouts. As the capacity of roundabouts varies based upon their design, a traffic engineering company would be required to measure the traffic loads of various intersections proposed for conversion, and the appropriate roundabout design implemented based on traffic flow volumes.
P.E.I. uses both single-lane and double-lane roundabouts. The double-lane ones can carry approximately twice the load of the single-lane version. Roundabout designs are also available for highways and are commonly used in Europe.
Roundabouts operate more efficiently and safely than signal-
controlled intersections. The hub in the centre can contribute positively to the urban environment through attractive landscaping or by being used to display artwork.
I’d like to see both provincial and municipal levels of government implement roundabouts as a safer, more efficient method of moving traffic.
Sarah Colborne Penney