May 13, 2002
Roundabout is a good idea if it does the job
For those who really want to understand the merits putting the roundabout at SR203 and 124th, there is a web site detailing the proposed intersection at http://wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr203roundabout/
I believe that anybody visiting this site cannot fail to see the overwhelming advantages to this solution: ¥ improved traffic flow when compared to signals (yes, I did say improved); ¥ vastly improved accident rates (39 percent fewer accidents, 76 percent fewer injury accidents and 90 percent fewer fatal accidents); and better aesthetic appeal (although the last may be purely personal taste).
The accident rate statistics are reality, not theory, and I consider a 90 percent reduction in fatal accidents worth waiting a little for! In answer to the parting statement from a recent letter, I believe keeping the traffic moving safely but continuously is exactly what a roundabout does, and no traffic light I have ever seen has kept all the traffic moving continuously, especially when the light is red.
Can they be reconfigured or reprogrammed? No, They don't need it! Priority is assigned by traffic flow patterns and can be seen to adjust itself as necessary.
The gentleman who wrote April 8 about the chaos on French roundabouts was correct. The French use a different set of rules where the traffic on the roundabout must yield to traffic entering the roundabout! This is the exact opposite of the British and U.S. system, and the "priorite a droit" system used in France is truly a disaster. The U.S. system has traffic entering the roundabout yielding to traffic on the roundabout Ñ a totally different scenario.
As for people not yielding in the USA, I have found that since moving here from the UK, the American driving public is far more polite, courteous and drives slightly slower than the British.
As before, if you wish to support the roundabout, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will forward them to the project manager at WSDOT. Also, please continue to let our public officials know that there are those of us who like the idea of a new traffic scheme if it does the job.
Ian King, Duvall