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.
When 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 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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