Monday, August 24, 2009

Missoula Roundabout Almost Ready to Ease Traffic Headaches

Missoula is getting its first single lane roundabout at the intersection of Higgins - Hill - Beckwith. This is completely different than the current traffic circles that can be found in our towns residential neighborhoods; which are meant to calm traffic at non-controlled intersections.

The roundabout has been under construction for about two months (more here) and is meant to make safer and more efficient a major intersection for traffic going to both the University of Montana and downtown. Pedestrian safety was a major design factor for the reconstructed intersection as the old intersection provided no safe or marked way for pedestrians to cross.

Roundabouts like the one about to open have been proven in numerous studies (here and here) have shown that roundabouts can reduce traffic accidents at intersections by anywhere from 30% to 70% depending on the prior intersection environment; this is mostly due to decreased speeds and the elimination of traffic crossing paths.

The Higgins - Hill - Beckwith roundabout will also feature some beautification with a park on one corner and the landscaping that can be seen in the photo below.


Rantwick said...

If heard and read good things about roundabouts other places. I would love a chance to ride one if only to see how it works for cyclists.

It hadn't occured to me that they could reduce emmissions, but of course that makes sense. Nice post!

CarFree Stupidity said...

I forgot to mention that cyclists have been using it after the work day is over. Its really funny to see all these people on bikes cruising through the intersection with no worry for traffic.

Doohickie said...

We have two major "roundabouts" (called traffic circles here), but both are messed up in my opinion. Both of them have yield signs for traffic already on the circle. If you've driven on a roundabout in Europe, you know that traffic already on the roundabout has the right of way. This is almost as universal as the car to the right at a 4-way stop having the right of way.

But here in Fort Worth, yield signs keep people on the circles from being able to smoothly get off the roundabout because the traffic getting on has the right of way. The only time I've seen anything like this was in England, where some of the larger roundabouts had traffic lights to regulate traffic during rush hour (but as soon as traffic eased up, they were shut off and conventional right of way took over).

I wish we could get a few traditional roundabouts in my area; I hate hate HATE having to wait around for lights to turn green when there is clearly no traffic around.

Frank said...

Bravo Missoula and thanks for the photos! I think the round about looks greath, though I think that particular intersection is light traffic, it seems to be busy around 5-6th streets. And right where the white bicycle was, I hope it works! keep posting!

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