The Daily Gazette
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Residents voice opposition to Malta roundabout plans

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More than 80 people turned out for a public hearing Monday on proposed roundabouts on Round Lake Road, the vast majority of them opposed. Fifteen of the 16 speakers at the 45-minute hearing said they oppose roundabouts being built at intersections with Raylinsky-Ruhle roads and Chango Drive to help the area handle growing traffic. "My feeling is roundabouts are not safe at any speed for pedestrians," said Tim Downey of Miller Road. The town, however, ...

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March 5, 2014
2:04 p.m.

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All modern roundabouts have median islands separating incoming and outgoing auto traffic. Pedestrians don't have to find a gap in two directions of traffic, just one. This is safer for pedestrians, especially for younger or older ones, because they only have to concentrate on one direction of traffic at a time. This is what is meant by two-phase. Cross the first half, pause if you need to, then cross the second half. On multi-lane crossings pedestrian beacons or signals are often added if the auto (or pedestrian) traffic is too numerous. The signals are also two phase, usually requiring the pedestrian to push a second button when they get to the median. The median can also have a Z path to reorient the pedestrian to view oncoming traffic. Also, the signals usually rest in off, so they are only activated if a pedestrian needs the help crossing. This way only motorists that need to stop are delayed.

The safety of a pedestrian crossing any road, regardless of the intersection control, can be enhanced in many different ways. Signing and marking the crossing is usually the first step. Shortening the crossing distance is another. The safest shortening method is a median that permits pedestrians to cross one direction of traffic at a time (two-phase), like at a modern roundabout. This is particularly helpful for the youngest and oldest pedestrians. Enhanced markings include advance stop bars where any half of the crossing has more than one lane. This helps reduce the double-threat collisions on multi-lane crossings. Raised crossings slow traffic right were pedestrians cross. If emergency access is a concern, placement of speed cushions in advance of the crossing are a solution. Electronic warnings, like rapid flash beacons, increase motorists’ awareness of pedestrian activity. Hybrid beacons (with a red indication) or full signals are usually reserved for locations with the busiest traffic or pedestrian uses (due to cost). One advantage of beacons is they usually rest in off, so auto traffic is only delayed when pedestrians need the extra help crossing. With a menu of ways to improve crossing safety, choosing the best one depends on local conditions. However, each of these options is moot if there are not laws in place, or enforced, to clearly identify who has the right of way to begin with.