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Increase in Roundabouts is to Improve Safety

Posted: Feb 13, 2013 7:46 PM by Michelle Schuelke
Updated: Feb 14, 2013 11:11 PM

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COLUMBIA - The city of Columbia has been trying to increase the walkability, livability and reduced auto dependency in this growing city. Intersections move traffic more efficiently. That is why roundabouts have been replacing four way intersections. But community members worry that roundabouts aren't exactly driver friendly routes.

Amanda Braxton, a Columbia resident said, "I feel though it is not a convenience, they are not as experienced with the roundabouts. So they are used to the four way stop and you generally know whose turn it is when it is time to go. So they enter the roundabout as though they know what to do."

Scott Bitterman, Columbia manager of maintenance and traffic said, "At a roundabout all vehicles are captured and have to go through the intersection 20-25 mph depending on how big it is and the design speed. Where at a traffic signal or a four way stop anybody that is not paying attention or is trying to pushing things when they are in a hurry, they can just blow through the intersection as fast as their car will go."

Bitterman says Columbia's intersections are good candidates for roundabouts because four way stops are accident-prone and have delays.

Bitterman said, "You know some people will be waiting 30 or 40 cars deep at a four way stop but those are the great locations to put a round about in."

In some cases roundabouts reduce the need for added lanes.

While all of Columbia's 20 roundabouts are currently single-lane roundabouts, future construction projects in Columbia will include two-lane roundabouts.

The city of Columbia website has the following information about how motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists should behave in roundabouts.

What Motorists Should Do:
1) Approach: Slow down to the posted speed. Yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk; they have the right-of-way.
2) Enter: Yield to vehicles from the left in the roundabout. Wait for a gap in traffic, and merge into traffic in the roundabout in a counterclockwise direction.
3) Proceed: Continue through the roundabout until you reach your street. Never stop in the roundabout.
4) Exit: Signal, then exit the roundabout to your right. Yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.

What Pedestrians Should Do:
1) Approach: At the pedestrian crosswalk, look LEFT.
2) Cross: Cross to the raised or painted splitter or refuge. Look RIGHT. Finish crossing to the opposite sidewalk.

What Cyclists Should Do:
1) Cyclists can walk their bicycles across the pedestrian crosswalk.
2) Experienced cyclists may navigate roundabouts like motorists. Do not hug the curb. Ride in the middle of the lane to prevent vehicles from passing you. Yield to pedestrians in the crosswalks.

For information on navigating roundabouts and a map of where they are in Columbia, visit the city's website.

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