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zenstyle

Roundabouts

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Way back, at the dawn of humankind, there was talk of the city putting in a roundabout at our Eastown intersection of Wealthy, Lake Drive and Norwood (a.k.a. "Five Points".)

Time passed, humans evolved to walk upright, sort of, but still no progress, or even further discussion of a roundabout for us. Any of you city planner insiders know what the scoop is?

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Way back, at the dawn of humankind, there was talk of the city putting in a roundabout at our Eastown intersection of Wealthy, Lake Drive and Norwood (a.k.a. "Five Points".)

Time passed, humans evolved to walk upright, sort of, but still no progress, or even further discussion of a roundabout for us. Any of you city planner insiders know what the scoop is?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Roundabouts have been proven to be less expensive to build and maintain, more attractive and have fewer accidents than traffic light intersections. It should be looked into more. The only ones planned in this area are in Coopersville, the intersection of Dean Lake and 3 Mile was looked into (but planners thought the intersection was too "vital" to try something experimental), and a giant one in Holland Township Northeast of US-31 and Riley (Riley I think?). I could see one at Cherry/Lake/Diamond and Monroe/Pearl/Monroe Center (that intersection is messed up anyway) to start. Anyone else?

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The city has implemented smaller roundabouts in some areas. I know there is one in the Riverside Gardens section of town on the NE side. I think Coit and Marywood? I thought I also read that there was at least one on the SE side. They seem to work pretty well, slowing traffic, and adding some greenery at intersections. I know there was a roundabout designed for the intersection of Knapp and Pettis when that "New Urbanism" development was on the boards out there. I think the roundabout fell through when the development did.

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The city has implemented smaller roundabouts in some areas.  I know there is one in the Riverside Gardens section of town on the NE side.  I think Coit and Marywood?  I thought I also read that there was at least one on the SE side.  They seem to work pretty well, slowing traffic, and adding some greenery at intersections.  I know there was a roundabout designed for the intersection of Knapp and Pettis when that "New Urbanism" development was on the boards out there.  I think the roundabout fell through when the development did.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Oh, you are talking about the small "traffic calming" planters that are in the intersections. They do have those all over the SE side, one is near Logan and Morris in Heritage Hill. There are also some in Burton Heights and Alger Heights, but I can't recall the intersections. I think zenstyle was thinking something more large scale.

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"I think zenstyle was thinking something more large scale."

Indeed I was; biggish, Brit-style traffic "circles" that allow cars/bikes/buses on without stopping and easing them out without stopping. Here's a link:

http://roundabout.kittelson.com/

The intersection in Eastown would be perfect.

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I don't know about the one in Holland Township, but the city of Holland has a huge one on the drawing boards for 2006-2007 at the point where 8th Street, Chicago Drive and Fairbanks Avenue meet -- right in front of the new DeVos Fieldhouse (and Russ'!). It will be a major feature of the eastern gateway into the city.

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I don't know about the one in Holland Township, but the city of Holland has a huge one on the drawing boards for 2006-2007 at the point where 8th Street, Chicago Drive and Fairbanks Avenue meet -- right in front of the new DeVos Fieldhouse (and Russ'!). It will be a major feature of the eastern gateway into the city.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Oh, that's right. I did read about that one. That will be nice! The other one was planned for West Shore Drive (runs parallel to and East of US-31) and Riley. That was about 3 years ago.

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Roundabouts have been proven to be less expensive to build and maintain, more attractive and have fewer accidents than traffic light intersections.  It should be looked into more.  The only ones planned in this area are in Coopersville, the intersection of Dean Lake and 3 Mile was looked into (but planners thought the intersection was too "vital" to try something experimental), and a giant one in Holland Township Northeast of US-31 and Riley (Riley I think?).  I could see one at Cherry/Lake/Diamond and Monroe/Pearl/Monroe Center (that intersection is messed up anyway) to start.  Anyone else?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Dad:

You are on point. The primary roundabout in the metro area should be none other that the center of the metro area - METROPOLITAN CENTER (i.e. - the intersection of Fulton and Division). I believe that with a little repositioning of the Civil War Park and an elliptical shape, such a roundabout could work. What do you think?

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I think most planners love roundabouts, but the county road commissions are still waaay to nervous about roundabouts to implement them on any large scale. And I think they are more comfortable with regular intersections and boulevards. From what I remember, Holland is planning to build a bunch of them.

My only concern is that if there is a roundabout where cars don't have to stop at a busy intersection such as Fulton/Division, could it make the area more hazardous for pedestrians?

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Dad:

You are on point.  The primary roundabout in the metro area should be none other that the center of the metro area - METROPOLITAN CENTER (i.e. - the intersection of Fulton and Division).  I believe that with a little repositioning of the Civil War Park and an elliptical shape, such a roundabout could work.  What do you think?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yes, definitely. I was thinking that is a great spot and the monument could be moved to a central park in the middle. I think all of the "gateways" should be roundabouts: the corner of Front and Pearl by the Public Museum, Fulton and Division, maybe the corner of Michigan and Ottawa or Ottawa and Lyon (haven't decided yet). Can you imagine a new Lyon/Ottawa Tower with a curved front that wraps around a roundabout there ;)

andy, that's a good question about pedestrians. At least as far as traffic signal intersections, I believe in many downtowns, there is a segment when the light changes that is strictly for pedestrians to cross, and no other traffic may enter the intersection (not even right turners). Anyone else know how pedestrians are handled in a roundabout?

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Great website zenstyle! I found the answer to the pedestrian "conflict" with roundabouts. There are actually 16 points where pedestrians and traffic "conflict" in a standard 4 lane traffic signal intersection. Which makes sense, we were all just complaining about almost being hit in intersections a while ago. Whereas with roundabouts, there are only 8. See Chapter 5, Page 108 - 109:

http://www.tfhrc.gov/safety/00068.htm

Chapter 6, geometric design, is interesting too ;)

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Have any of you had to deal with roundabouts on a regular basis? Come to Lansing, they got some new traffic planner/designer or whatever, he conned them into building a bunch of roundabouts, speedhumps and other very dumb ideas. The city has given up on building these things due to numerous citizen complaints, and snowplow driver complaints. these become eyesores because they are not maintained, they are impossible for large vehicles and snowplows to maneuver, and a hassle for people to drive around. They only work when a massive amount of space is avalible, enough to make a very gradual curve. In Lansing they have built them at numerouse side street intersections, mostly on those semi-busy side streets. These look great on paper, and are not a problem if you only have to drive through them once and awhile. But they are not maintained, are not fun to deal with on a regular basis and cause problems with snowplows. Look beyond the idea of these things and look at the reality of them, I encourage any of you to come to Lansing and look at them, they are in numerous Southside neighborhoods.

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Have any of you had to deal with roundabouts on a regular basis? Come to Lansing, they got some new traffic planner/designer or whatever, he conned them into building a bunch of roundabouts, speedhumps and other very dumb ideas. The city has given up on building these things due to numerous citizen complaints, and snowplow driver complaints. these become eyesores because they are not maintained, they are impossible for large vehicles and snowplows to maneuver, and a hassle for people to drive around. They only work when a massive amount of space is avalible, enough to make a very gradual curve. In Lansing they have built them at numerouse side street intersections, mostly on those semi-busy side streets. These look great on paper, and are not a problem if you only have to drive through them once and awhile. But they are not maintained, are not fun to deal with on a regular basis and cause problems with snowplows. Look beyond the idea of these things and look at the reality of them, I encourage any of you to come to Lansing and look at them, they are in numerous Southside neighborhoods.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Roundabouts are a pain for those driving large vehicles. One of the Rapid routes requires the driver to go through a bunch of them, and it is a close call. However, as for other drivers, they are supposed to be a pain to drive around, and they are supposed to work as a traffic-calming measure, 1.e. get people to slow down. I think they would work best politically in a relatively low-traffic area that is more pedestrian oriented. Can imagine the chaos that would ensue if there was a roundabout at 28th and E. Beltline?

Thanks for the link, grdad. There is way too much math in that book for me :wacko:

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Roundabouts are a pain for those driving large vehicles.  One of the Rapid routes requires the driver to go through a bunch of them, and it is a close call.  However, as for other drivers, they are supposed to be a pain to drive around, and they are supposed to work as a traffic-calming measure, 1.e. get people to slow down.  I think they would work best politically in a relatively low-traffic area that is more pedestrian oriented.  Can imagine the chaos that would ensue if there was a roundabout at 28th and E. Beltline?

Thanks for the link, grdad.  There is way too much math in that book for me  :wacko:

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yah, those kind of formulas brough back bad memories :P (the link was zenstyles BTW). I wonder how many planners here use these European design standards, though. I know there is one in Okemos (near East Lansing) that was very controversial, but my parents live near Lansing and they like it.

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Roundabouts are a pain for those driving large vehicles.  One of the Rapid routes requires the driver to go through a bunch of them, and it is a close call.  However, as for other drivers, they are supposed to be a pain to drive around, and they are supposed to work as a traffic-calming measure, 1.e. get people to slow down.  I think they would work best politically in a relatively low-traffic area that is more pedestrian oriented.  Can imagine the chaos that would ensue if there was a roundabout at 28th and E. Beltline?

Thanks for the link, grdad.  There is way too much math in that book for me  :wacko:

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yah, those kind of formulas bring back bad memories :P (the link was zenstyles BTW). I wonder how many planners here use these European design standards, though. I know there is one in Okemos (near East Lansing) that was very controversial, but my parents live near Lansing and they like it.

I think the top max speed they recommend is 30 mph, which would not work for 28th, but would be fine downtown, Easttown or EGR (or a myriad of other neighborhood centers). I've driven on many of them in Ireland, and from the right side of the car in the left lane, and you actually get pretty good at them :P

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I think too many people here are visualizing a planter in the middle of an existing interesection and calling it a "roundabout". That's simply traffic calming and not a true roundabout or traffic circle (or "rotary" in the NE).

A true roundabout requires a lot of space and does not require traffic to stop at any point. Existing traffic in the roundabout has the right of way, always travelling counter-clockwise (in the US) and merging traffic simply yields, finds an opening, merges, then stays right to exit at their desired street.

They are not traditionally pedestrian-friendly and pedestrians are not encouraged to access the "center" of the roundabout, but to follow around the perimenter crossing each of the entrance/exits until they access their desired street.

Their main benefit is to keep traffic moving and avoid gridlock. That's why they work best in "gateway" areas where pedestrians are not prevalent.

My personal belief is that they do not work well when "retrofit" into an existing area unless that area is up for major redevelopment anyway since they require more right of way than a traditional intersection.

When done well, they work like a charm.

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I think too many people here are visualizing a planter in the middle of an existing interesection and calling it a "roundabout". That's simply traffic calming and not a true roundabout or traffic circle (or "rotary" in the NE).

A true roundabout requires a lot of space and does not require traffic to stop at any point. Existing traffic in the roundabout has the right of way, always travelling counter-clockwise (in the US) and merging traffic simply yields, finds an opening, merges, then stays right to exit at their desired street.

They are not traditionally pedestrian-friendly and pedestrians are not encouraged to access the "center" of the roundabout, but to follow around the perimenter crossing each of the entrance/exits until they access their desired street.

Their main benefit is to keep traffic moving and avoid gridlock. That's why they work best in "gateway" areas where pedestrians are not prevalent.

My personal belief is that they do not work well when "retrofit" into an existing area unless that area is up for major redevelopment anyway since they require more right of way than a traditional intersection.

When done well, they work like a charm.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Thanks for the input, allbusiness. That was the crux of my pedestrian question earlier. I thought roudabouts were they were un-signaled, therefore there would be no particularly safe time for a pedestrian to cross the street.

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I was thinking of the large style roundabouts, and not the planters (traffic calmers) in the intersections. There is plenty of room at Front/Pearl to make way for a roundabout, and I would say at Lyon/Ottawa as well (maybe have to offset it to take into account the corner of the Waters Building). Fulton and Division would have 5 converging streets, so that one would be tricky :huh: But I have seen as many as 6 converging streets in a roundabout before. I have also seen roundabouts and signals used in tandem. Just thinking out loud ;)

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