I am pre-empting a different blog post to clarify something about traffic circles, in light of the accident earlier today that everybody is freaking out about. As of this moment there are 203 comments on the Free Press article about this traffic accident, so clearly there is a lot of misunderstanding and confusion.
I have only read a handful of the comments, but what many people are saying is that 'Winnipeg drivers' are too stupid to figure out traffic circles or that people need to be educated on how to use them. Even the Director of Public Works was on TV saying that "it's going to take a while for people to get used to them."
Wrong wrong everybody is wrong. The problem is not that traffic circles are too hard to figure out. The problem is that they're poorly designed. A properly designed traffic circle is a snap to use. I know because I drive through one all the time. The roundabout at Beaverhill and Lakewood in Southdale is well designed: as you approach it, the road is divided such that you are turned to the right and away from the approaching traffic. As you enter the intersection, it is clear well in advance if another vehicle is turning off or going around because of the design of the intersection and because the circle is large enough.
Consequently, it is safe and easy to use. There is no need to "get used to it." You just drive into it and yield to on-coming traffic. That's all there is to it. Everybody knows what a yield sign means, so no education is necessary. It is almost impossible to fuck up, unless you do something exceptionally stupid.
On the other hand, the traffic circles in River Heights like the one where the accident was today are different because they do not have any of the design elements of a good roundabout. There is no lane divider to separate the traffic exiting the intersection from the traffic entering the intersection, and the circle is so small that there is no time to read what other traffic is intending to do. Little surprise that the lady in the small white car was frozen at her yield sign as I approached the intersection this evening.
So yes, perhaps people need to get used to these roundabouts, but only because they're crappy roundabouts to begin with. The thing is that traffic circles in general are an excellent traffic control device, which is why they are used everywhere else in the world. To quote jpenns in the Free Press comments section:
The awful thing is that people will use this as proof that traffic circles are dangerous, disregarding the worldwide acceptance that they are safer, better on gas, better on cars, and quicker to get through than four way stops.now ... back to my regular programming ...
*edit* related posts: graham 1 and 2; policy frog, dobbin,