November 17, 2018

By BEN STODDARD

Are we ready for so many roundabouts? The region is implementing them all over the place, replacing old intersections with them – sometimes on major roads. They’re building roundabouts too quickly for people to figure out how to navigate them safely.

To clarify, roundabouts are not a bad thing. They can reduce traffic buildup, they make U-turns very easy  and accidents are usually less serious than in normal intersections thanks to lower speeds and because everyone’s driving in the same direction. They are far superior to all-way stops on residential streets as you usually won’t have to stop at all, and they can be useful for side roads and rural roads as well.

That said, we’re building too many roundabouts too quickly in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. Small intersections are being converted to roundabouts all over, sometimes when there isn’t enough room. Cambridge has 11 roundabouts planned for Franklin Boulevard, one of the city’s busiest roads and also a major truck route. Two more exist on Fischer-Hallman Road and another four are on Ira Needles Boulevard in Kitchener.

The region needs to slow down with their roundabout building. People need more time to get used to these, and most drivers aren’t ready for multi-lane roundabouts on busy streets.

The roundabout on Homer Watson had 20 reported collisions in its first month, according to a recent article in The Waterloo Region Record. It is the region’s first three-lane roundabout and many drivers still aren’t comfortable with busy one-lane ones. Most accidents were caused by failures to yield, whether by drivers entering the roundabout or drivers in the outer lane failing to yield to a vehicle that is exiting from the inner lane. A three-lane roundabout still seems crazy to us Ontarians, but at least it’s not like the huge seven-lane roundabout at Place Charles de Gaulle in Paris, France, where accidents occur nearly every hour.

It’s great that all the extra road construction in the last few years has helped create jobs, and the fact that regional government officials are trying different ways to ease traffic congestion proves that they care. That said, ease up a bit and give people time to learn how to use roundabouts before you create so many.

The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.

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