• Colorado Boulevard First to Report It.decorative

      Rendering of a roundabout

      The Avenue 64 safety project will include a roundabout with new space for landscaping (Photo – City of Pasadena)

      Safer intersection design to be introduced on Avenue 64.

      By Wesley Reutimann

      The City of Pasadena is slated to install its first ‘modern’ roundabout in the coming year, thanks in part to funding from Measure R. The project is one of several safety improvements planned for Avenue 64 on the City’s border with the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles.

      The US Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) classifies roundabouts a ‘Proven Safety Countermeasure’. In contrast to a four-way intersection, roundabouts have far fewer potential points of conflict between different users. There is no ‘beating’ the yellow light – or outright running a red light – in a roundabout. This eliminates a dangerous driving habit that can result in serious and fatal broadside collisions.

      roundabout schemaWhen there are crashes in a roundabout, they tend to be much less severe, as the design inherently calms traffic. Slower average speeds within the roundabout make it easier to avoid collisions in the first place. The FHWA estimates that roundabouts reduce severe and injury crashes by 78% compared to an intersection with a signal, and 82% versus a two-way, stop-controlled intersection.

      Roundabouts are also cost effective. Unlike traffic signals, roundabouts do not require electric power or yearly maintenance. They operate during in power outages. And there’s little idling or need to come to a full stop, saving fuel (or battery) costs for individual drivers, and decreasing air pollution and noise. And less waiting saves time for people driving, walking, bicycling, or using public transit.

      They are also more environmentally-friendly and efficient. Roundabouts generally require less space than traditional intersections; there is no need for separate turning lanes. With less asphalt to maintain, roundabouts can be landscaped with native trees and plants, reducing the urban heat island effect, providing additional habitat for local wildlife, capturing precious stormwater, and beautifying the community.

      Recognizing the many benefits of the modern roundabout, the American Association of Retired People (AARP) developed a roundabout fact sheet a decade ago as part of its Livable Communities initiative.

      A roundabout with 3 stop signs

      Pasadena’s much-despised, first traffic circle at Glenarm and S. Los Robles (Photo – W.K.)

      A growing number of California communities have implemented ‘modern’ roundabouts over the past decade, including the cities of Santa Barbara, Montecito, La Jolla, Carlsbad, Los Angeles, and Azusa.

      But how does one navigate a roundabout? Slow down and give anyone already in the roundabout the right-of-way. Signal when exiting so other drivers know you are exiting the roundabout. And yield to any pedestrians crossing the street.

      More information about the Avenue 64 project can be found on the City of Pasadena’s project Pasadena’s project website.

      Editor’s Note: Pasadena’s first roundabout was opened in 2003 at Glenarm and South Los Robles. It is not a fully-functioning No Stop roundabout. It is just a Traffic Calming Circle.


      [This article has been updated with a photo showing the first traffic circle in Pasadena. March 31, 6:00 pm.]

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        • Wesley Reutimann

          Wesley Reutimann is a Pasadena resident, volunteer organizer of the Pasadena Environmental Advocates (PEAs) Eco-Breakfast, and co-founder of Active San Gabriel Valley (ActiveSGV). He has almost two decades of experience in the non-profit sector with community-based, government, and educational institutions. Wesley's areas of focus include health policy, sustainable mobility, and active communities.

          Colorado Boulevard is your place for informative news and social living for the greater Pasadena area.
          We strive to inform, educate, and work together to make a better world for all of us, locally and globally.

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      1. Scott Batson says:

        People using the road make mistakes (like speeding, running stop signs and red lights, turning left in front of oncoming traffic), always have and always will. Crashes will always be with us, but they need not result in fatalities or serious injury.

        Modern roundabouts are the safest form of intersection in the world – the intersection type with the lowest risk of fatal or serious injury crashes – (much more so than comparable signals). Modern roundabouts require a change in speed and alter the geometry of one of the most dangerous parts of the system – intersections. The reduction in speed to about 20 mph and sideswipe geometry mean that, when a crash does happen at a modern roundabout, you might need a tow truck, but rarely an ambulance. Visit the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or FHWA for modern roundabout FAQs and safety facts.

        The FHWA has been saying for over 20 years that signal intersections have TEN TIMES the fatality risk of modern roundabouts

      2. Raub Mathias says:

        Roundabouts are horrible and will result in traffic confusion and more accidents.

      3. Dave says:

        The city’s border on ave.64, to the south, is at Highland park. The border at eagle Rock would be on la loma, and also, colorado

      4. Scrattina says:

        Stop signs at a roundabout make it not a roundabout (ask any Uk/European/anyone from any other country in the civilized world)…we just can’t seem to get it right (see North Granada Ave San Marino/Alhambra & Glenarm /Los Robles as noted by others). Likely designed/decided on by people who have never traveled/driven
        /used a true roundabout. Here they are glorified street planters.🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️

      5. Phil Hopkins says:

        To set the record straight, Pasadena’s first modern roundabout was actually built around the historic Memorial Flagpole (since moved about 50 feet from its original location) at the intersection of Colorado and Orange Grove.

        Here are two photos showing the roundabout in action: https://hdl.huntington.org/digital/collection/p15150coll2/id/2671
        [blocked. Hotlinked]

        It wouldn’t be appropriate to speculate that Pasadena’s original roundabout was removed so the Rose Parade could negotiate the turn from Orange Grove onto Colorado Boulevard without obstruction, would it?

      6. Gary Green says:

        This article is a bit frustrating. It is mostly an opinion piece on the ad It never actually shows where this roundabout will be built. Avenue 64 extends for some distance south of the 210 freeway and continues into Los Angeles. I would also point out that there is at least one roundabout on Glenarm east of Marengo that has been there for many years. Maybe there will be a follow-up article giving some actual details.

      7. technodelic says:

        I just hope they don’t add stop signs like with Pasadena’s joke roundabout at Los Robles and Glenarm.

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