O Great Purveyor of Pavement Paradigms, Please explain how an otherwise sane city like Conway can embrace the most convoluted, confounded, vehicular control devices known as the Dave Ward Drive traffic circles. The signs directing the motorist around and through these abominations appear to have been designed by Pablo Picasso. Thankfully Mother Teresa never had to drive her car through them, for surely she would have eventually emerged, cussing a blue streak and losing her sainthood. -- Willy
Dear Willy: It's never a good idea for a business to alienate its customers -- just ask the NFL. Or for a city to alienate its citizens.
But we are compelled to say, politely, that you are wrong. Traffic circles are beautiful things. They are straightforward and sensical. They're cheap to maintain, too, unlike those expensive and breakable traffic signals.
They keep traffic moving, in the process reducing delays and relieving congestion. Since no one is required to stop, but instead to yield, an intersection can handle more traffic in less time than a traditional signaled intersection.
Traffic circles do take some getting used to, especially for drivers accustomed to traffic signals that drag on and on, clogging up traffic and making drivers crazy enough to run red lights.
Yeah, that's what psychologists call an insight. It's impossible to run a red light that's not there.
Let's review the fundamentals.
When entering a traffic circle, a driver should wait for a gap in traffic, yielding when necessary. A driver should stay in his lane, watch for pedestrians, and use his turn signal when exiting.
Go slow, but don't stop. Miss your exit? Go around again.
Pick a lane and stay there. That's easy when a traffic circle has, duh, only one lane. For traffic circles with two lanes, watch the signage. Usually, drivers turning left should get in the left lane, drivers going right should get in the right lane, and drivers going straight can do that from either.
Be patient. A traffic circle may seem weird -- we admit to mass hysteria at first -- but a few times driving through should clarify the experience.
Now, about safety.
A review of studies compiled by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety supports the idea that roundabouts are safer than traditional intersections, especially single-lane roundabouts. In fact, a 2014 study of 24 traffic circles by the Minnesota Department of Transportation showed an 80 percent reduction in fatal and serious injury crashes in that state.
Think about crashes at traditional intersections, especially right-angle crashes. Traffic engineers know those crashes are deadly. Right-angle crashes are unlikely in a traffic circle.
Our personally nearest traditional intersection with a red light gives us the willies. We play a sad game -- look how many drivers breezed through the yellows and the reds. Including honkin' SUVs, big ol' pickups and an occasional 18-wheeler. And there we are, in our dinky little car.
It's a great spot for a traffic circle. We hope.
Metro on 07/21/2018
Print Headline: Circles for traffic wise inventions