I’ve talked about Roundabouts a little bit before. Well, now they want to put one on a major road in Guelph that basically would be at a pivital spot leading from anywhere to downtown. I’m not happy about this because of pedestrian-safety for the reasons I explained, sort of, in that post before. If you want a roundabout, put it in a place where pedestrians don’t often walk, like leading onto a highway or somewhere else that’s very car-friendly and not so much into the pedestrian traffic.
The implementation of the roundabout had been getting a lot of newspaper coverage, this article, this one, and this Trib article were the most recent ones I’d seen. If you notice, there is very little emphasis on pedestrians, we’re just sort of mentioned in a passing fashion. so I decided to write a letter to the editor of my own to each paper. I hope it gets published. If it doesn’t, it’s here.
Dear Editor re: roundabouts
After reading the recent article concerning the roundabout at the five points, I would like to raise another viewpoint, that of the pedestrian, especially the pedestrian with a disability.
As a blind pedestrian, this roundabout greatly concerns me because of the way it works, and because it is being planned for an arterial road. The way a blind or visually impaired person is instructed to cross streets is like this: they stand at the corner and listen to traffic. When the parallel traffic is moving, they go. There is an order of things. The perpendicular traffic stops, the parallel traffic moves, the pedestrian goes. There is no guess work involved.
With a roundabout, the first rule for pedestrians to safely navigate it is that they make eye contact with the driver. As you can see, this creates an absolute barrier for the blind pedestrian. I cannot make eye contact with the driver because I can’t see him. Therefore, I cannot even hope to cross that street for the same reason I never j-walk. There is too much risk for me to not hear a car coming until it is too late. Since the five points is the major means for me to get downtown since I don’t always take the bus, I would be prevented from getting downtown if this roundabout is installed. This saddens me, since I hear so much talk of wanting to creat a walkable community.
I fear I will not be the only one affected by this. What about seniors and people in wheelchairs and walkers who don’t move at your average street-crossing pace? Will they have enough time to get to the island and then get across the rest of the street safely? And what about children? With them being relatively short, will cars see them? As well, children are taught to follow traffic lights, not judge when they should step out and then run like a frightened squirrel through the circle.
I understand the usefulness of roundabouts. I also understand that corner is horrific. What I don’t understand is why a roundabout is the solution, since it is an area that is highly used by pedestrians.
I hope that makes at least a few people think, especially the ones who think we’re just being a bunch of folks afraid of the unknown.