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Roundabouts to the Rescue….

As any pedestrian or cyclists knows, crossing the streets in this car-obsessed state can be an adrenalin-pumping rush or an unplanned trip to the hospital. State and local transportation planners, traffic engineers, and bike/ped advocates took note and are questioning the 20th century roadway design doctrines and looking at alternatives that prevent accidents and encourage active transportation. 

Enter the modern roundabouts.  Since more than 44% of ALL traffic crashes occur within a controlled intersection – traffic signals or stop signs, FDOT looked at roundabouts as an option.  Their team studied the safety and operation of the 238 roundabouts in Florida (four of which are on state roads) and found that roundabouts offer several advantages over other traffic controls – #1 they cost less to install and #2 have a greater safety potential like a 78% crash decrease at signalized intersection.  This fall, FDOT adopted a roundabout policy and will be encouraging its use on future road projects.

So where are the roundabouts in Orange County? Try Thornton Park. The Town of Windermere. Baldwin Park.  Winter Garden.

If you need a roundabout refresher, check out FDOT District 1 YouTube video.

Defining Roundabouts
FDOT defines a roundabout as a one-way circular intersection without traffic signal equipment in which traffic flows around a center island that operates with yield control at the entry points, and gives priority to vehicles within the Roundabout.  This collective integration of uses by the FDOT is part of the overall movement to create roadways that encourage safe movement. Roundabouts are being embraced as a tool that raises the level of driving consciousness by removing traffic controls other than a yield sign, thus forcing user caution. They are proven to reduce the number of fatal and severe injury crashes by 82% over a stop controlled intersection, and 78% over a signalized intersection.  Roundabouts offer only 8 vehicle and pedestrian conflict points compared to the conventional intersection of 32 vehicle and 16 pedestrian conflict points yet increase traffic capacity upwards between 30-50%.  The results are profound and counter-intuitive.
When the drivers slow down, traffic flow and safety increase. Pedestrians and bicyclists are integrated and considered in the design not just given a crosswalk over a roadway whose aim is to move cars as efficiently and quickly as possible.  Kudos to the Florida Department of Transportation for embracing an integrated concept and embracing the roundabout.  

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