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Why do We Have Roundabouts In our county?

You may have noticed that roundabouts are starting to be constructed in Polk County. A roundabout is a circular intersection without traffic signal equipment. It allows traffic to flow around a center island.

A typical intersection makes you wait at a red light, even if there’s no traffic utilizing the green light. Not a roundabout, though. After yielding– vehicles inside the circular roadway always have the right-of-way – if there’s no other traffic, you can continue on your way.

So why do roundabouts cause some people angst?

Maybe the angst is because change can be hard, but roundabouts are here to stay. After all – and this is even more important than the time-saving factor – they reduce crashes. Significantly. Let’s look at why roundabouts are a good thing:

  • Roundabouts reduce the number of fatal and severe injury crashes at stop-and signal-controlled intersections by more than 75%;
  • Typically, conventional intersections have 32 vehicle and 16 pedestrian conflict points. Roundabouts meanwhile, have only eight vehicle and eight pedestrian conflict points. This means there are far fewer opportunities for a collision; and
  • There are no crossing movements in a roundabout, so severe left-turn and right-angle crashes are eliminated.

Roundabouts are typically designed with pedestrians in mind. Crosswalks are often used to guide them to the proper crossing. Cyclists that use the roundabout are expected to ride with traffic or use the sidewalk and crosswalk like pedestrians.

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