It is interesting that the Globe made no mention of bicyclists and
had little to day about pedestrians.

Rich Warren

Date sent:              Mon, 04 Oct 1999 08:15:36 -0500
From:                   Dale McKeel <[log in to unmask]>
Send reply to:          [log in to unmask]
Subject:                TLCNet: Boston Globe--Roundabouts
To:                     [log in to unmask]

> Posted by Dale McKeel <[log in to unmask]>
> This story ran on page C08 of the Boston Globe on 10/03/99.
>  Copyright 1999 Globe Newspaper Company.
> A concept comes full circle
> By Beth Carney, Globe Staff, 10/03/99
> RATTLEBORO, Vt. - There was a time, almost a century ago, when the
> traffic circle wasconsidered an innovation, not a near-death experience.
>  In 1904, New York businessman William Phelps Eno designed this
> country's first real rotary around New York City's Columbus Circle. With
> everyone moving in the same direction, Eno thought, the traffic would flow
> better. The design quickly caught on, especially in the Northeast, and
> engineers laid down hundreds of rotaries.
>  But as more cars filled the roads, Eno's great innovation became a
> highway planner's nightmare. Instead of traffic flowing smoothly, there
> were drivers stuck waiting on ramps, cars whizzing around the circle,
> streams of traffic stalling at one point.
>  By the 1960s, the traffic circles had become vicious circles, notorious
> for backups and accidents. In the United States engineers started tearing
> them down.
>  Now, though, there is a new group of enthusiasts who are trying to
> bring the circular intersection back. The advocates are pushing a new kind
> of circle - which they call a ''modern roundabout,'' and insist are
> smaller and safer than their treacherous forebears.
>  Especially in New England, where frustration with rotaries runs high, the
> public is doubtful, but roundabout supporters are making gains. Vermont
> has built two roundabouts in the past four years, in Montpelier and
> Manchester.
>  In Brattleboro, the state's most ambitious roundabout, a nearly
> completed two-lane circle connecting well-traveled truck routes off
> Interstate 91, is awaiting landscaping and other final touches. There are
> plans in various stages for a dozen more.
>  ''The state of Vermont took a leap of faith with this,'' said Shane
> O'Keefe, Brattleboro planner.
>  Maine, too, in that time has built roundabouts in Gorham and South
> Portland. Officials from the more skeptical states of New Hampshire and
> Massachusetts have started studying the option.
>  ''This thing is developing so fast it's hard to keep track of them,''
> said transportation planner Tony Redington. An engineer with the Vermont
> Agency of Transportation, who is referred to by some of his peers as ''Mr.
> Roundabout,'' Redington led the way for the first roundabout in the
> Northeast, built in Montpelier in 1995.
>  He says roundabouts suffer guilt by association. ''They're not
> rotaries. That's the first question I get from New Hampshire. The first
> reaction I get from people from Massachusetts is `Gee, we're taking them
> out here,''' he said.
>  According to its fans, the modern roundabout has very little in common
> with what some dismissively refer to as the ''high speed rotary.''
>  Invented in Great Britain and common throughout Europe, roundabouts are
> much smaller than old-fashioned rotaries, such as the one before the
> Bourne bridge to Cape Cod. They're designed to slow traffic down; cars
> enter at an angle that forces them to yield.
>  Like Eno's original rotary, the principle behind the roundabout is to
> keep traffic moving, and proponents say roundabouts can handle many more
> cars than traditional intersections. Their fans say circles are actually
> safer, too.
>  Roundabouts have fewer collisions than typical signaled intersections,
> and, because of the angle and reduced speeds, accidents with injuries are
> reduced by as much as 60 to 90 percent, said George Jacquemart, a New York
> traffic consultant who researched roundabouts for the national
> Transportation Research Board.
>  Environmentalists like roundabouts because cars use less fuel and spew
> less pollution than they would stopping and starting at lights. Some
> proponents say they even make people nicer.
>  ''An interesting phenomenon occurs when you force drivers to slow down.
> They become more courteous,'' said Michael Wallwork, a Florida engineer
> who has spearheaded the construction of roundabouts throughout the United
> States.
>  Wallwork said some of his staunchest opponents are ''people from the New
> England area who have driven the old-fashioned traffic circles and hate
> them because they're too fast and too big and they get lost in them.''
>  But even their advocates agree that opposition to roundabouts is only
> partly a matter of misinformation. A lot of people simply don't like
> traffic circles. They find them confusing. Traffic lights, with their red
> and green signals, feel safer, even if they aren't, engineers say.
>  ''Even though delay is reduced significantly, and safety is improved,
> quite a lot of people driving through it don't believe it's safe. That is
> kind of weird. The perception is it's less safe than a traffic signal,''
> said Per Garden, a civil engineering professor at the University of Maine
> at Orono and roundabout proponent.
>  Roundabouts simply demand more from drivers, which may be why they
> resist them, said Jacquemart.
>  ''We have gotten so used to traffic lights. We like the lights. They
> treat us like babies,'' he said. ''The roundabout has a completely
> different philosophy, in the sense that we ask the driver and pedestrian
> to pay attention.''
>  In Brattleboro, drivers are taking to the change with mixed feelings.
>  ''Put the traffic lights back,'' said Andrea Rheault, a 40-year-old
> mother from West Chesterfield, who complained that she has started doing
> her grocery shopping in nearby Keene, N.H., because she hates getting
> caught in the center lane of the two-lane Brattleboro circle. ''They
> expect you to fight your way around it.''
>  Israel Briggs, a 28-year-old who drives through the rotary every
> weekend to pick up his children in nearby Keene prefers the new
> intersection.
>  ''I just don't like stopping at stop lights,'' he said, adding,
> however, ''A lot of people don't know how to use it.''
>  But, for some, being a little uncomfortable is not a problem.
>  ''They don't know who has the right of way,'' said Donna Friedman, a
> retiree who lives in Whitingham and admits the swirl of traffic can be
> disorienting. ''But I like rotaries, because it just feels like they're
> part of New England.''
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