Roundabouts safer for traffic than red lights

Monday, October 29, 2012
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The 200 Malta residents who’ve signed a petition opposing the plan to build a pair of new traffic roundabouts on Round Lake Road certainly have some experience with this traffic management strategy. They’ve been dealing with roundabouts in growing numbers for the last six years, and the town now has a record 13 of them in use. Clearly, 200 people is nothing to sneeze at, but town officials still need to keep their opposition in perspective when the decision on how to improve traffic flow on the increasingly busy road from Ballston is made.

Despite their widespread use in Malta, roundabouts are still fairly new-fangled in this region, and some motorists still freeze up when they encounter them. But on balance, it seems they have been more successful in keeping traffic from backing up at busy intersections, and statistics confirm that they have resulted in fewer personal injury accidents than traffic lights.

Undoubtedly this is why a study prepared for the town earlier this year by two separate engineering firms, The Chazen Group and Creighton-Manning, declared roundabouts the “preferred alternative” for those intersections, which are crossed by 7,000 to 13,000 cars every day.

Using red lights would probably involve widening the road and adding turn lanes, so it would probably not have any cost advantage. But with the federal government likely to pick up 80 percent of the anticipated $4.75 million cost, cost isn’t really the issue; safety and convenience are.

This page was initially opposed to the proliferation of roundabouts in Malta, especially the five constructed within a mile of each other on Route 67. But the significant reduction in accidents and injuries experienced in just the first 10 months of operation in 2007, plus the noticeably smoother traffic flow, convinced us we had been wrong.

Before the Town Board decides to ignore the anecdotal evidence, not to mention the advice of its engineers, its members should attempt to query other residents. Better yet, the “silent majority” — if that is indeed what they are — should come to the Nov. 5 Town Board meeting and make their feelings known.

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October 29, 2012
7:59 a.m.
wmarincic says...

Are you kidding me?I know the Fuller Rd. area pretty well having driven it for 30 years. Come off that I90 ramp going west and come into that Roundabout and try to get to Washington Ave ext. where there is another one without getting killed. I will bet that there are going to be at least 5 fender benders per day where there were maybe one a month.

October 29, 2012
10:49 a.m.
manjoe says...

Stopping the construction of roundabouts (or traffic circles as they are known in some parts) represents the victory of human nature at its worst. It stands for looking down on others in the belief that people can't learn and can't change. It stands for the victory of fear over progress. It stands for irreationality in governance over decision-making based on fact and reason. What we need in NYS is 1,000 traffic circles where today we have stop signs or expensive electric lights. That would mean lower cost to tax payers, fewer personal injury accidents, less polution and lower gas consumption...not to mention people getting to their destinations faster.

October 30, 2012
10:39 a.m.
dod says...

The roundabouts at Fuller and Washington are just newly opening. In fact, they are not even complete. It takes about a month for folks to get used to them and, once they do, most find them superior.

As to fender benders, here's a question for wmarinic: If your son or daughter was T-boned at a new signalized intersection that could have been a roundabout, how would you feel? A fender bender is minor property damage. A T-bone is bodily injury or death (oh, in addition to MUCH great property damage). Kudos to manjoe - he's right on the money.

Kudos as well to the Gazette for not only giving this issue clarity and focus, but for having the guts to reassess its position noted in 2007. There aren't too many institutions these days that will admit they were wrong, but I resepect the Gazette for being 'real'.

One final comment - the roundabouts under discussion in Malta are only one-lane. The others in Malta, and at Fuller/Washington, are two lane roundabout. The one-laners are super simple to navigate.

October 30, 2012
5:59 p.m.
wmarincic says...

So what about the people that don't have a month to get use to them? And what new signaling device, there has been a traffic light at both intersections for 40 plus years.

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