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Star: City Hall eyes traffic circles

wyliepoon

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City hall eyes traffic circles

Paul Moloney

City Hall Bureau

Sep 25, 2007





Popular in Europe, traffic circles are worth studying to see if they would be safer and move more traffic than traditional intersections with stop signs or traffic lights, says Councillor Case Ootes.

Ootes (Ward 29, Toronto-Danforth) has tabled a motion for this week's city council meeting asking transportation officials to report by January on the potential benefits and suggest ways to pick candidates for conversion.

Suitable intersections might include Eglinton Ave. E. and Don Mills Rd. and Eglinton and Victoria Park Ave., Ootes said.

"You've got a huge amount of traffic and you've got the space there. It seems to me to make good sense to take a good hard look at it. I'd like to know what the advantages would be compared to what we have now."

Transportation planner Rod McPhail said he finds the devices intriguing and has long thought a roundabout might work at Meadowvale Rd. and Highway 2A in Scarborough, which takes eastbound traffic coming off Highway 401.

"You want to slow vehicles down coming into the city. You don't want them all of sudden to come off the 401 and then hit a red light. And you've got quite a bit of land there that's publicly owned. You could design a proper roundabout."

Space is not available to convert many traditional intersections but they may not be needed in those situations, McPhail said. Roundabouts are more helpful where you have several roads converging.

"A normal intersection with an east-west and north-south road, you don't really need a roundabout. Stop signs and traffic lights work pretty well," he said.

Another issue is that motorists would face a steep learning curve if the city started installing the devices here and there, he said.

"People don't know how to drive through them. You just don't run across them here, so there's a safety issue involved. What you'd have to do is put signs everywhere and then that gets confusing."

Once people became familiar with them, they may prove to be safer, Ootes said. "You wouldn't have the T-bone collisions that result in greater injuries," he said.

Traffic circles should be considered as an alternative whenever new traffic lights are being considered at intersections, Ootes added.

"It seems to me we've gotten stuck in the rut of putting up traffic lights without considering what might possibly be a more efficient way of moving traffic and a more environmentally sound and safer solution than what we have now."
 

lordmandeep

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i have noticed that Traffic lights are being replaced across the city.

I don't know about you, but the old tiny ones made an area look depressing...
 

cacruden

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A very long time ago now - Kingston ON had a traffic circle. It was eventually removed, but I seem to remember that the circle had a high accident rate -- especially among non-locals (tourists). I really don't think it is a good idea to bring them back - in that very few people know how to use them properly.
 

flar

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There's a modern traffic circle in Ancaster. It's on Wilson coming into town off the 403. It works fairly well in moderate traffic but doesn't seem very pedestrian friendly. They also take up more space than conventional intersections.
 

MisterF

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You have to make the distinction between modern roundabouts and old style rotaries (I don't know which the one in Kingston was but I have a feeling it was the latter). In modern roundabouts the traffic entering the circle yeilds to the traffic in the circle. Plus the circle is small so all the traffic has to slow down quite a bit. Signalized intersections converted to roundabouts have been shown to be much safer than before - fatal accidents are almost eliminated altogether because it's next to impossible to t-bone someone or hit someone head on. And drivers are forced to pay attention to their surroundings, unlike going through a green light.

Roundabouts are now the default intersection of choice in Waterloo Region. They've built at least half a dozen and a lot more are on the way. They're not small roundabouts on side streets either, they're on major arterials and some of them have two lanes. They're popping up in Ajax, Hamilton, Ottawa, and Collingwood among others. Even the MTO is building one on Hwy 33 outside Picton. In Quebec they're apparently even more popular and snow removal hasn't been an issue. More and more engineers and planners favour roundabouts and it's only a matter of time before they get widespread acceptance.
 

Tuscani01

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I know when I went to Ponta Delgada Portugal last year, they were in the process of converting traditional intersections to roundabouts. They looked great and were pretty safe to drive on. (although scary when trying to enter for your first time)
 

interchange42

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Toronto needs to pick a pile of collector road intersections to replace with roundabouts: get people used to the things in lighter traffic conditions before springing them on the populace in more complicated situations.

42

PS - Lots of US States are now building roundabouts too. They are coming.
 

Tewder

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I don't see why space is an issue. They have them all over the UK, where you find them in the biggest cities and the smallest villages, and space is obviously very much at a premium there.

Also, it is said that the number one most dangerous situation on the road is an intersection, and traffic circles avoid this by forcing traffic to slow down to enter it. They also keep traffic flowing at slow times, which is when people tend to be tempted to run lights at intersections. They are also pretty (which is a very important consideration).
 

Urban Shocker

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The small town in rural England where my Mother lives has several roundabouts - they vary in size from a large ( and pretty ) landscaped knoll on the outskirts of town, to a modest white painted circle where three streets converge in town, and all work equally well.
 

unimaginative2

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Waterloo Region has gone really gung ho for roundabouts. They're building them all over the place, and I quite like them. One new arterial that's being built will have roundabouts at every major intersection.
 

bar1967

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Bring them on! They are far more attractive than the typical stop light intersections. An added bonus is you can add intersting landscaping in the middle. Not to mention they actually work. How many times have you sat at an intersection when no traffic is coming and you just wait and wait for the light. Stupid.

They could build a nice big one at University and Richmond.
 

RedRocket191

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Waterloo Region has gone really gung ho for roundabouts. They're building them all over the place, and I quite like them. One new arterial that's being built will have roundabouts at every major intersection.

I loved how there's a flash video series on how to use roundabouts on the Waterloo Region website. Don't plan on going to that area anytime soon, but I watched it - just in case.
 

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