Monday, December 31, 2012


The Ecos “Population Elf”

The Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC) in its “Ecos" regional plan wants County citizens to add the “Population Elf” to the Easter Bunny and Abominable Snowperson.  That’s right, even though the under- 18 population continued to decline 2000-2010 somehow the Population Elf elevates future population growth to double that for the last decade to over 2,000 yearly, and the CCRPC claims 35,000 population growth from 2015 through 2035.

Forget recent continuing decline in population increases in Vermont and the County decade by decade, and forget the pesky Census (it’s only a “government estimate” really) which suggests Vermont with practically no increase in the under 65 age group 2000-2030 while the over 65 age crowd more than doubles.  (Governor Douglas tended to side with Census and not the Population Elf on population data.)  And, of course, forget the under 1,300 average yearly County population increase 1990-2011, and under 1,000 yearly 2000-2011—again those pesky Census folks at work.  

Then there are those stubbon under-30 generation folks who increasingly refuse to get driver licenses—a drop of 20% at last count.  But the Population Elf will get after these young folks to get to their Chevrolet freedom and stop shifting to those 50 Chittenden County Transportation Authority (CCTA) Link commuter buses each workday.  Yes, about 50 commuters abandoning their cars yearly for the bus, perhaps to try to make their family budgets work.

Oh, Burlington citizens, just ignore the fact that all major approach streets from the burbs—Colchester Ave., Main St., the Northern Connector, Pine St., Shelburne St.—boast traffic declines of 8 to 29% since traffic peaked about 20-25 years ago in the late 1980s.  Believe the Population Elf and his twin, the Traffic Growth Elf, not the lying statistics! The Population Elf will get to work to change the accelerating downward trend in City car traffic after it stops the flood of commuters converting from car drivers to bus riders.  The Population Elf assures us transportation sector stops its cutting greenhouse gases, now about back to about 1990 (down 8% 2000-2010 statewide) and aiming at 1980s and even 1970s levels.

The CCRPC inherits the legacy of the former Metropolitan Planning Organization where the Vermont Digger nicely summarized, $40 million in design and planning funds went down the tubes on the Circumferential Highway.  Maybe with a little extra help the CCRPC Population Elf can revive this plan also.

Seriously, what we need at this point is a little honesty and integrity in regional and local planning.  Population and traffic numbers and projections need to be backed up with peer reviews of those with long term experience in the areas.  

In transportation policy and programming this means accepting the end of the car age and starting by plowing full speed ahead with commuter rail from the Burlington to Montpelier, St. Albans and Middlebury.  Finally, it means unclogging intersections for all users and that goal along with safety, the first priority, cannot be done without converting County intersections on a priority basis with roundabouts.  At the same time let’s revive the Burlington waterfront with a quality connection using light rail to the Marketplace, UVM and Fletcher Allen.  However, even with all this the Population Elf likely remains in the realm of myth, right where it began in Ecos.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


...or why bus, commuter rail, and Amtrak grow and car travel stalls and slides backward
If economics historically gets tagged with being the “dismal science” then transportation economics deserves placemet as the muck at the bottom of the economic swamp. For a century transportation economics mostly remained deep inside the academic walls. Moving goods mostly addressed costs and efficiencies moving a carload of freight from factory to port to a destination whether that be a coal fired electric plant or after warehousing and braking the carload down, delivery by a firm like UPS to a customer on main street.
When dealing with moving people from place to place, transportation economics mostly examined large metropolitan areas for where to put the next subway stop, bus route, or airport hub. Household transport economics started and ended from the advent of the car with the household car—the numbers of car per household, annual growth in car travel, new holiday car travel records, how high could driver licensing percentage could go among the driving age population, highway crash statistics, etc.
But beginning about 1990 a shift began, a tectonic shift with more and more statistics showing a slowing—and now even a decline—in car travel. Statistics now show a drop of young people getting drives licenses in a 15 year study 1995-2010, and in Burlington, VT a sudden abandoning by about 500 commuters to and from the Queen City for the commuter “Link” services operated by the Chittenden Country Transportation Authority (CCTA). Oh, one more statistic—nationally the median household expenditure for transportation which reached as high as 19-20 percent at times dropped to 16.0 in 2008-2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Behind the tectonic shifts, there appear to be two extremely powerful economic forces which together determine the economics of the household at work. And, those two powerful economic forces tell us we have not seen anything yet on the drive by households to shed high cost driving for either public transportation or just not making certain trips altogether. Those two forces are: basic wages and the cost of housing. The best measure of a nation's income and trends comes in the “average manufacturing hourly wage” data. That average wage peaked about 1970 and since 1980 dipped slightly during the interim and now sits about the same level $19.14 (August 2012, average hourly manufacturing wage for “production and non-supervisory employees”). Simply, little has changed in the income of the typical worker in manufacturing in the U.S. in over three decades.
The second major factor affecting transportation for households is the cost of housing. Here the news gets even worse. From 1980 to 2009 in constant 2000 dollars, median rent (usually a two bedroom unit) increased from $376 to $689 monthly, 83%. So, no real increase in wages for three decades and housing cost rising over 80%. What do these have to do with transportation? Or with households cutting back with expensive local transportation represented by the car and its 50-cent-a-mile typical expense (the current reimbursement Federally approved rate)? Simply there is a very strong economic force in the decision making of households to minimize the joint cost of housing and transportation, the two areas that consume about half (49% for families in 2011) of the average households. So we have experienced three decades of flat manufacturing wages and during that time an 80% increase in housing costs as measured by the median rents. Finally, the periodic national travel survey reveals that from 2001 through 2009 for every age group travel by car declined with he largest decline in miles of travel, an average of 20%, came in the under-30 age group.

Where does that leave a household who for a long time experienced the pressures of rising housing costs and no wage increases—everything else being equal. Reducing housing costs represent a far more difficult short term possibility (long term too!) to change than transportation costs. When an opportunity to more than halve the cost of a necessary trip—getting to and from work, for example—it is no surprise why a commuter between Burlington and Montpelier chooses a Link commuter bus costing 10 cents a mile versus solo driving at 50 cents a mile—a daily saving of $32 based on the 80-mile roundtrip by Link service priced at $8 and $40 for the solo drive. Finally, with these two factors at work it comes as little surprise that the growth of outer suburbs of metropolitan areas over the past two decades suddenly ended and that in many metropolitan areas the long term decline in city centers ended an in many cases central cities gained population. The housing and transportation cost relationship fully explains these two metropolitan developments.
What's more there appears little change in the future of the increasing housing-transportation cost to the household—the household faces increased housing cost over and above inflation and car travel costs doing the same. Perhaps this relationship explains why when the Boston area transit agency increased fares on bus-subway-commuter rail services by 23% early this summer there was no drop in passenger numbers. The increase in public transit fares were insufficient for a typical household commuter or transit user to switch to an alternative, such as the car, and those who used transit were not “cruising” or taking public transport just to see the countryside, they were making mostly necessary trips to work, professional appointments, school, etc.
We can expect that there will be a continued abandoning of the car for necessary trips—and even for discretionary trips—if reasonably priced service alternatives are provided—right now that is really just about any public transit, including Amtrak, which generally enjoys high single digit and double digit growth each year.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


The following responds a reference by a Burlington Walk Bike Council to a U.K. paper advocating walking and bicycling for attaining better public health.  My response to that suggestion follows...

The better question is "what about the U.K. and North America."  The U.K., U.S. and Canada (more U.S. and Canada) record  far lower walk/bike rates, particularly in the bike department than typical European nations where walk/bike urban numbers often hit 20-30% while the U.S, and Canada remain bottom feeders at about 10% walk and 1% bicycle. 

As far as Burlington [VT] is concerned the Marketplace with its shared space intersections nears Nirvana territory. But "routes to the marketplace" reflect the kind of desperate conditions which make our non-Marketplace areas in the typical category of a a few hundred percent greater walk casualty rates and bicycle casualty rates per mile of travel compared to German and Netherlands as Rutgers Jean Pucher reported in an extensive paper devoted to the very subject you bring forward, health and walking and bicycling published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2003--it is a landmark study

Pucher did further work in this area showing incidence of obesity, diabetes, etc. versus proportion of walking and bicycling modes [in several nations] with the expected results.

Am J Public Health. 2010 Oct;100(10):1986-92. Epub 2010 Aug 19.

But the problem we face comes in great part--not that we do not have sidewalks in Burlington or some (but not enough) bikeways of various types--the problem lies in essentially unsafe intersections where signals kill, injure, DELAY, pollute and uglify.  Until we unplug the major intersections so that one, for example, cross arterials with little delay (think Battery, Main, Pearl, Winooski, North, etc.) then encouraging folks to walk amounts to choosing your poison. 

Roundabouts--probably because they traffic calm a block or two on all legs--have that peculiar feature that the more you build the safer they all become.  Anything but a roundabout on average generates about a 900% greater rate....[of] serious injuries and fatalities--like Sam Lapointe in January [walker killed at a signalized Burlington intersection].  To be an advocate for walking and health, you have to be an advocate for roundabouts along all urban walking corridors.  Of course, roundabouts bring major improvement in car occupant safety too--think of Karen Borneman at St. Paul and Main just two years ago now [young woman killed in a T-bone two-car crash at the intersection about 150 feet from  Burlington City Hall].

So the task is clear--prioritize the conversion of intersections to roundabouts so as to enable more walking and bicycling in a safe environment.  

Sunday, November 25, 2012


 My interest in public transport goes back some time, probably inspired like many by Jane Jacobs in "Life and Death of Great American Cities" as part of a master's program slanted to the degree possible toward urban policy, housing, transportation and planning.  For about a decade or so, carried around an economic study by a Bowdoin economist William Shipman who I respected which laid public transport in the foreign land of "public subsidy", that is,  something not worthy of serious consideration because it could ever stand on its own two feet economically.   Only after getting involved in State transportation policy in the 1980s did the epiphany occur that the biggest "subsidy", that foreign idea, was actually going to the family car and the solo driver.  

One example, FHWA's Highway Statistics series published each year shows an astounding amount of capital investment in highways each year--about 40% and growing--comes from non-highway user revenues, mostly in the form of local property taxes and general funds (particularly tax exempt bonding which carries a stiff tax expenditure price).

Remember, starting with the Reagan Administration, no highway bill proposing tax increases in the gas tax passes the Congress without the support of those who support public transportation, and in spite of decades of effort by one party to abolish Amtrak it just finished its 42nd year with two consecutive years of record setting passenger numbers.   While the walker/bicycle interests spearhead the conversion of urban streets to users other than solely for the automobile, and local transit agencies in Vermont through perseverance and careful exploration of new areas (like the Link commuter buses into Burlington), two major laggards remain, mostly because of the contortions of both states and Congressional constraints: intercity and commuter rail, and urban light rail. 

For Vermont this means moving quickly to install commuter rail services along three corridors into Burlington which can now be justified from a number of viewpoints, and reviving the carefully planned light rail service from the Burlington waterfront and Union Station to the Church Street Marketplace and then onto UVM and Fletcher Allen Health Care.

Have always viewed public transport is a form of social justice, but as important it can now be viewed as a necessary cement to the economic viability of urban areas and absolutely essential force for a sustainable society.  This view coincides with our current view of walking and bicycling in urban America as also symbolizing these same values related to a viable economy and a sustainable society.

Consider that with a limited "subsidy" Link commuter buses to Burlington provide a dependable service for about 10 cents a mile versus 51 cents a mile (federal reimbursement rate for a government worker using a personal car) for a solo driver.  So a Montpelier commute each day, 80 miles round trip costs $8 a day by Link and $40 by solo drive.  Anyone who does a monthly household budget can quickly calculate what this does to the monthly and annual family budget.  And employers are quickly picking up on how important shifting employees from expensive solo commuting to public transport means a more stable workforce, a happier more efficient workforce, all of which contributes in a measurable way the bottom line.  

So, suddenly public transport now appears to be gaining a new connotation--transportation for the middle class!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012


A new study on walkers and bicyclists at roundabouts by the Minnesota Department of Transportation received some attention this week on the roundabout listserv hosted by Kansas State University.

(The study summary and access address to the study itself can be found at:

One of the most interesting aspects of the study was the walker delay.  A comparable traffic signal delay to the two roundabouts the authors stated would be 30 seconds while at the two lane roundabout the delay was 9 seconds and at the single lane roundabout 2 seconds.  The one lane roundabout was described as being in a "residential" area with 83 percent of drivers yielding to walkers.  The two-lane roundabout was described as being in a "suburban" area and 45 percent of drivers yielded to walkers.

My comment on the listserv to the study sent today was:

Not sure there are surprises here. What we know about walker--and bicyclist safety for that matter with no walkers and one bicyclist  fatality at a partially roundaboutized Los Altimatos Circle--is that the US/Canada roundies with all their early variations from current practice appear to be hitting the mark set by France with a walker fatality every 15,000 or so roundabout years.

This record so far surpasses signed/traffic signal performance that little regard (Lost Altimatos, again, a good example) can be given to safety at most existing roundabouts, rather it is more important to get more on the ground and access the 30% or so extra reduction in walker crash rates which come in all roundabouts once a certain (unknown) density of roundies occurs.  Of course, again, no one in the world has taken the effort to identify the crash reduction by mode out at incremental distances to a quarter mile from the center of roundabouts, i.e., the point where the traffic calming effect ends. 

The basic rules of roundabout design continue to apply for walkers and bicyclists--the smaller the roundabout the lower the speeds, the safer for non-motorized users. Wallwork ramps at entry/exits [for bicyclists to exit/enter rather than continuing through on the circular roadway.]x
Regarding yielding rates which clearly make little difference in  roundabout safety--roundabouts are by definition safe for walkers and bicyclists versus alternatives--regardless of yielding rates, just look at the overall safety record. 

My view on those persons with severe visual handicap continues that current street designs for them except in two cases remain unsafe at any speed--roundabouts or no but certainly for signs and signals.  (Remember US fatality rates for walkers and bicyclists are a few hundred percent higher than in urban Germany and the Netherlands--see Jean Pucher study on this).  Those with severe visual handicap can only be provided access in two cases:  (1) shared space and (2) use of a combination of traffic calming techniques (usually with roundabouts) reducing vehicle speeds to about 10 mph and below.  Incidentally, James Kunstler pointed to only three street malls in the U.S.--Burlington, VT Church Street Marketplace (where I am right now), Pearl Street Mall in Boulder and Santa Monica.  One of the first, Sparks Street in Ottawa still struggles, in my view because the lack of sufficient nearby parking and residential housing.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


A Seven Days article regarding the desire of merchants adjacent to the Church Street Marketplace evoked my letter below referencing my long held belief that converting adjacent space along cross streets outward from the edge of the Marketplace a great deal of sense--"shared space" with a mix of vehicles and walkers can easily be installed with benefits for all.   The Marketplace businesses themselves are understandably cool to this idea because the side street merchants are not included in the special tax district which funds various activities on the Marketplace.  My suggestion is to seek a middle ground on the issue and move forward with "shared space" where appropriate.  This letter was not published by Seven Days:

Agree with side street merchants push for an enhanced connection from the Marketplace onto College, Bank and Cherry Streets as a natural step economically beneficial to all. This "pushout" approach particularly makes sense on Cherry where constant bus runs flows end with the new transit center. I made a strong comment on the PlanBTV that the “shared space” where vehicles and walkers mix comfortably at Marketplace street crossings can be carefully expanded east and west with similar paving and side area treatments. (Check out “shared space” through a google.) This works for traffic and enhances the fronting businesses. Yes, this will increase economic vitality of side areas but the presence of slow though yielding vehicle traffic means less realistically per square foot sales potential than similar stores on the Marketplace proper. The Marketplace needs to recognize side street businesses cannot be expected to pay the same rate of support they are required to do. A compromise figure can certainly be found. This becomes win-win as the Marketplace overall becomes more attractive to shoppers with enhanced side areas leading into the original--still remarkable after all these years--Marketplace areas.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012



The evidence nears a mountainous level the auto age already turns toward a surging shift to public transportation, walking and bicycling. Isolating data on journey-to-work shows roughly 23 percent, one of four, of Montpelier, Barre and Berlin workers employed in Burlington traveling to that City on Link commuter buses operated by the Chittenden Country Transportation Authority (CCTA).

The commuting data reflects another aspect of the tectonic move away from carcentric transportation in Vermont in other states as car travel plateaus or even declines, young age driver licensing drops nationally, and public transit agencies, like the Boston area agency face unprecedented use and likely capacity limits by the end of this decade.

While on a travel vacation with Thailand-located son and his wife (both elementary teachers there) to the Philippines, continue as time permitted to process the various data sources which bear on the market for commuter rail services out of Burlington with special look at the natural start service—the Montpelier State House to Union Station Burlington corridor with stops (east to west): Middlesex, Waterbury, Bolton, Richmond, IBM Technology Park, Essex Junction, Fanny Allen/St. Michaels and Winooski.

A flurry of studies over a ten year period 1989-1999 examined commuter rail services. Two of these studies delved into light rail (trolley) serving corridors from Union Station Burlington with considerable public involvement leading to a “first phase” recommendation through the Church Street Marketplace to UVM and Fletcher Allen Health Center (FAHC). The other studies evaluated among other areas commuter services along the three corridors radiating out of Burlington to Montpelier/Barre, St. Albans and Middlebury.

At the turn of the century through the leadership of Governor Howard Dean commuter rail service—the Champlain Flyer--began from Charlotte to Burlington with an intermediate stop at Shelburne.  It operated until early 2002. (I along with many others criticized that service as unjustified by likely use.) The Champlain Flyer now appears prophetic for two reasons. First the track and stations remain ready to host commuter rail service this very moment—and any new service involving Burlington to Montpelier naturally extends the additional 17 miles to Charlotte right from the start. Second, the Champlain flyer with a reported 124 commuters (six months data for October 2001 through March 2002) gives real time information on future passenger rail potential—there is nothing like the real world data to determine demand rather than depending on theoretical models.

A lot changed since the rail studies—the tectonic shift in car transportation starting in the 1990s leading to the 2000-2010 growth New England-wide of only 3% in car travel with a strong likelihood this decade will end up on the negative side, the first since the advent of the auto itself over a century ago.

In addition several years ago, another real world of Burlington area public transit commuter services began and, surprisingly, grew and continues to grow like topsy—those services out of Burlngton along three corridors to Montpelier, St. Albans and Middlebury, called “Link” by the operator, CCTA, provide the most important data on the commuter rail potential. Besides, with more 40 buses daily (about half in the Montpelier corridor alone) the maximum of bus efficiency may already be past.

The number that sticks out in looking at journey-to-work data from the Census and actual commuter numbers come from the 142 who commute regularly by Link into Burlington from Montpelier. This number commuting inbound on CCTA Link buses projected for this year, represents according to Census 23% of all commuters to Burlington from Montpelier, Barre and Berlin to Burlington. 
Because a number of Link passengers to Montpelier come from both Burlington and the Richmond park-and-ride, a number of those riders surely come from towns outside of Burlington (time for a survey!). Overall, Link buses serve 2 ½ stations (Montpelier, Burlngton and eastbound only at Richmond park-and-ride).

23% is an important number

The importance of 23% resides in the fact that up to recently, as in the Vermont rail studies, modeling assumed a maximum of about 10% modal share for commuter rail in the immediate areas near stations. The 23% of Montpelier area commuters choosing a bus—far inferior in terms of a commuter preference—reveals the reflection of tectonic shift in still another now obsolete yardstick—the willingness of consumers to choose rail travel from home to work versus the car.

In determining the potential use of commuter rail by Vermonters, the clear evidence now suggests that commuter rail passenger service may well be viable now and may need to be added to the transportation mix now—more to come.

Friday, September 28, 2012



The Vermont AARP office this year continues to work with Brattleboro and others on the recent rash of walker fatalities and serious injuries which leads to the following thoughts....

Burlington, Rutland and Brattleboro all seek answers to a sudden apparent increase of serious walker injuries and fatalities in their community. In one week this year in Burlington a walker was killed and another seriously injured at busy signalized intersections. Rutland deaths occurred south Main Street and Brattleboro deaths and injuries occurred in various contexts.

There are no common clearly common elements. The Brattleboro walker crashes involved mostly drivers 50 or over with most of those involved off sidewalks. Both Burlington crashes occurred with the walker on a marked crosswalk. A fatality this week involved a young driver who careened at high speed in a parking lot, hitting two cars, then a teen-aged worker killing her in front of the store she was employed as she left at the end of her shift. Note the Federal Highway Administration figure for a fatality based on “value of life” research is (2009 $) $6.1 million and for an injury, $126,000. These figures include lost wages, family economic impacts, etc. A AAA study last fall using this data along with crash statistics and metropolitan congestion costs found, overall, the costs from injuries and fatalities, i.e., safety, were more than double the costs of congestion in larger metro areas and greater than congestion in all metro areas.

First and foremost, a key problem in the U. S. and Vermont comes in the form of a lack of comprehensive, programmed in all phases (education, engineering and enforcement) and readily accessible in document all can see: a highway safety program. The French integrated and comprehensive program reviewed annually for performance came about as a necessity to address human carnage on the streets and highways.

With that understanding at a minimum engineering, i.e., street infrastructure, can be examined in Vermont for providing the safest—though still not satisfactory overall safety—street environment for walkers.


For walkers only two basic safety infrastructure measures exist for streets and intersections-sidewalks along street segments and roundabouts at the intersections. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) posts on its website that sidewalks cut walker injuries and fatalities by 88% and several studies indicate that on average single lane roundabouts (and mini ones too) cut walker injuries and fatalities by about a similar amount. Not other infrastructure treatments attain the performance of sidewalks along street segments or roundabouts at intersections in terms of walker safety. It is no surprise, then, that France leads the world in the number of roundabouts (over 30,000) and that with about 12,000 “roundabout years” under our belts in the U.S. and Canada not a single walker fatality has occurred—and in France only about one walker fatal occurs per 15,000 roundabouts (or “roundabout years”). As the number of roundabouts increased in 1993 in France from 10,000 to 24,000 in 2003, the number of walker fatalities remained constant, about two, where it remains today. The presence of more roundabouts alone appeared to have significant impact on improving the safety of existing roundabouts, i.e., the more roundabout you install the lower the walker fatality rate at roundabout intersections.

Interestingly, Brattleboro was the first town in the U.S. and Canada where an entire corridor was evaluated for roundabout conversion and it probably shares with Keene, NH the title of the first downtown area with all its key busy intersections evaluated for roundabouts. The 1994 Brattleboro study evaluated all intersections from the now Keene Turn Roundabout (built in 1999) to the north on Putney Road to the shopping center area south of the town on US 5. A troika of roundabouts was sketched in the 1994 study where the one-way circular traffic continues through and around the municipal complex at the north end of the commercial downtown. A roundabout almost went forward at the complex intersection adjacent and over the Wellstone Brook where the greatest congestion occurs, exacerbated as traffic backs up and through during rail crossing activation less than a 100 yards to the east.

A fatal near the intersection of Strongs Avenue and South Main Street which occurred late last year is about a block from a busy intersection with a McDonalds on the southeast corner—an intersection where a roundabout was suggested by some about a decade ago, a roundabout which might have traffic calmed the area of Strongs and South Main which itself continues to be a good candidate for a roundabout. Overall, about 95% of busy Vermont intersections can be converted to roundabouts—and moving into a comprehensive, prioritized conversion program certainly must be the keystone to any comprehensive approach to dealing with the problem of walker safety.

Getting back to Brattleboro, the central area can be examined seriously for roundabout (“normal” and “minis”) to improve safety for walkers and car occupants, reduce congestion, traffic calm, reduce air pollution. One fatality occurred along Canal Street. The use of a simple median to cross near the Transit Center in line with the walker bridge crossing might improve safety and access at the mid point of the “level” part of the street. A “median diverter” which forces a movement of vehicles from a straight path at the median would add traffic calming to the median treatment.

On Western Avenue in Brattleboro, busy VT 9, roundabouts at the I 91 interchange would improve safety and access for walkers. Other significant intersections along sidewalked road segments also could be evaluated for roundabouts.

In view of the lack of State and Federal commitment to comprehensive highway safety—similar to the lack of action one might point to in another area, climate change—then a “do it yourself” “town comprehensive street safety plan” with emphasis on walking and bicycle modes could be undertaken. These local plans would continue to face lack of state and federal lagging in the areas of law, enforcement and education, but a local plan could heavily influence highway investments in a particular community and with cooperative efforts with other region towns at regional planning commissions impact regional highway expenditure—including funding local safety plans!

Thursday, September 27, 2012


 Vermont Digger gets the story right (including a map) regarding the excellent City proposal nn

Extending Battery Street a block or so south then hanging a left to connect to Pine Street, called an “urban grid,” represents the most sensible idea for Burlington since the City Council had the foresight to take a position against the Circumferential Highway. The proposal takes a lot of pressure off the residential areas along and adjacent to lower Maple Street and north on Piece from Maple.

Congratulations to Mayor Weinburger and Councilors Shannon and Seigel for showing us all how to work together. The “street” approach rather than the”Parkway” mindset makes sense for the neighborhoods and development needs involved. The City would be advised to take the same approach to the other end of the Parkway route. Why not, Phase i, just open up the I 189 stub at the south end of Pine Street for traffic. Then if one must extend the “Parkway” then do a Phase II simple true parkway–a single lane street with a median–two blocks and end it at Flynn Avenue. Then if one must in the future extend further to Lakeside Avenue, do a Phase III, extending the simple true Parkway to that point. One step at a time by working in cooperation with the VAOT.

The first priority after Battery Street Extension and connecting at the end of Pine Street to the I 189 stub (“Parkway Phase I) is addressing safety and service for Pine Street intersections by installing mini- and regular roundabouts. Cure the delay, cure the safety! All phases of any Parkway work needs to employ roundabout only intersections–just like the value engineering recommendations in the Parkway design documents.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


The Burlington Free Press comes out for a new streets investments in the City's South End rather than providing needed safety existing intersections which constrain traffic movement and generate delay and needless traffic crashes and injuries.  This comment entered online today:

If only the Free Press and our new contractor-friendly Mayor were as concerned with safety for walkers and drivers as for laying down more pavement. The safety and delay for all users of south end intersections except Home Avenue at Shelburne Road get quantum leaps in performance with single lane and mini roundabouts like the one nearing a start at the rotary on Shelburne Street. Why not allow traffic access right away to I 189 at the end of Pine Street? AAA tells us safety costs overwhelm congestion costs in metro areas--but is anyone listening? Oh yes, put roundabouts at the south end and congestion disappears too--its just a collateral benefit. Traffic in the few places it grows in Vermont (its mostly declining) now is slow and manageable without new streets and roadways. Let's welcome the post-auto age! First things first--first roundabouts, incentives for less driving, and money for public transport alternatives--after that and only after that look at new street investments.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Yesterday's post tried to address the existing Winooski roundabout.  It is a project I have followed the planning phase forward.  But reflection leads to the conclusion one should not try to force fit changes on the traffic circle when the problem lies in the mission the available space was designed for and how best to address that mission and the transportation needs. That reflection leads to the following for consideration...

While the City and transportation planners try to fix the seven year old Winooski City Center roundabout, the “problem” really resides in the original concept, one which led to today's dead end traffic circle design with no satisfactory exit.
There exists a roundabout solution, but only after revising the entire design on the vast underutilized space surrounded by the 230 feet by 450 traffic circle-sized roundabout gets reallocated to productive functions. Most two lane roundabouts with walker traffic are under 200 feet in diameter like the Brattleboro Keene Turn Roundabout with a diameter of 172 feet with two laners as small as 150 feet in diameter.
Let's face it, the large central area of the roundabout operates as sort of a cemetery lot, dead space that is nice to look at but otherwise useless for most citizens. The City center area needs to primarily serve the needs of the adjacent businesses along with fostering social interaction and providing an urban ambiance—the dead space inside the circle succeeds in defeating that overall purpose.  Consider, for example, the sidewalk on the westside where the most popular breakfast spot in the region, Sneakers, with just a single line of outside tables making the narrow sidewalks almost impassible—just an example of the downside of the space now devoted to the dead central area. If the central roundabout island is so attractive and useful, for example, why does the Winooski Farmer's Market locate at the southeast corner of the roundabout adjacent to the Champlain Mill?
Everyone considers the walker signal access to the dead zone or to cross from the east to west side a safety issue and conflict welcome to neither walker nor driver.
The fix—when you look at the larger picture—becomes obvious. Forget the dead zone and serve the adjacent businesses and services, provide for safe walking and driving, and erase congestion. The solution? Why, a dumbbell of roundabouts of course! One each of about 150 feet in diameter on upper end and one at the lower end—with a central connector about 200 feet long north to south.
How does a Winooski Dumbbell help? It provides outstanding benefits to the businesses and transportation alike. First, it erases the long downgrade street segment which creates the speed problem dangerous to both drivers and walkers alike. Second, most of the land inside the dead zone becomes accessible to the east and west side so that plaza space becomes possible, workable parking occurs, and urban ambiance everyone seeks can be provided. Everyone wins. For walkers two safe new crossings are created similar in comfort to the north traffic circle crossings—and the southwest walker crossing where two of the three walker crashes occurred becomes low speed and far safer. West side parking might be faced eastward and the west side sidewalk more than doubled in width. The center City design would suddenly serve customers and citizens rather than the dead zone which looked nice in fancy plans but ends up totally useless, really a blight on the area and forcing the contorted and dangerous traffic circle now in place.
There are some short term considerations—raised crosswalks can increase walker safety and reduced vehicle speeds. Most important, trying to remedy a failed basic design makes no sense when an injury costs $126,000 and a fatality $6.1 million, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
A final note on walker safety. French roundabouts experience about one walker fatality yearly per 15,000 roundabouts and one walker injury per 225 “roundabout years.” Vermont walker injures so far are one in Montpelier and the three at Winooski when overall one walker injury would be anticipated to date. The walker crash rate at Winooski City Center Roundabout really rates the description astronomical. Note the death this year across the bridge in Burlington at the signalized intersection, Barrett Street and Colchester Avenue.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012



The Burlington (VT) Free Press on Sunday ran a feature on accident and operational issues for the Winooski City Center roundabout with its five year history which includes several injury crashes and peak hour backup.  

This roundabout can be termed a hybrid, mostly roundabout in concept but dealing with a large oval size, two small parking areas served, seven overall streets and a huge central island park accessed by walker traffic lights at the middle of the oval, and acting as the primary feature of a city center with several buildings dating to the late 1800s.  The mostly two-lane   400 feet by 250 feet roundabout compares to current roundabout design practice for a two laner in urban practice of 150 feet diameter which serves walkers.  Finally, there is the added context, north to south, of a descending grade which makes speeds along the long 450 ft west side of the roundabout presenting a conflict for walkers at the southwest exit.  The comments below were submitted at the Free Press site:

Considering the seven intersecting streets, access to parking areas, and a central island park with a signal for walker entry--the Winooski City Center roundabout crash record may well be comparable with that of the three traffic signal intersections along with other signed connection this new “hybrid” roundabout replaced. The re-design of a roundabout impacts both congestion and safety—the Winooski study separating the two errs. Injury accidents really the test of safety—not lumping in non-injury crashes which relatively cost little. Federal Highway Administration employs $126,000 for the value of an injury, $6.1 million for a fatality—fender benders a few thousand dollars. For example, during the first five years of the Brattleboro Keene Turn roundabout injuries dropped 98% from 55 in the previous five years to one in the first five years of roundabout operation—but crashes went up significantly from roundabout design defects the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VAOT) continues to ignore to this day.

The complex nature of the issues in the Winooski case—both safety and congestion—require the attention of experienced practitioners in the field and no such practitioners exist in Vermont with perhaps a dozen available in the U. S., including designers of New Hampshire and Vermont roundabouts . Probably Michael Wallwork of Florida who designed the first Vermont roundabout is most knowledgeable on safety issues (particularly for walkers and bicyclists) and Barry Crown of the U.K. who designed the two-lane Main Street and Keene Bypass roundabouts in that city may be the best in the world on maximizing vehicle flows safely.

Until Winooski accesses experienced, knowledgeable folks who have dealt with literally hundreds of roundabouts—and Winooski officials resisted this advice in the past—they will continue to stumble in the dark and further risk higher levels of injuries than necessary.

Monday, September 10, 2012



                      Caramelization (British English: caramelisation) is the browning of sugar, a     process used extensively in cooking for the resulting nutty flavor and brown color. As the process occurs, volatile chemicals are released, producing the characteristic caramel flavor.

It's time to add another very sweet meaning to a different kind of “caramelization”: “Carmelization.” “Carmelization” (drop the second “a”) is the process of converting most busy intersections in an urban area or town center to roundabouts. The meaning comes from the City of Carmel, IN population 70,000 which in 2012 reached about two-thirds of the goal of converting to roundabouts about 100 signalized intersections. Mayor James Brainard states the City objective of becoming a City with one traffic signal and 100 roundabouts. (Carmel which biblically means “God's vineyard” most probably refers to Mt. Carmel overlooking Haifa, a site rich in historical events.) Note all of Carmel's several freeway interchanges are already fully “Carmelized.”

What is the impact of “Carmelization”? Since the first U.S. and Canada roundabouts were installed in 1990, one can now count about “12,000 modern roundabout years” without a single walker fatality and only one bicyclist fatal. This record is consistent with that of France with the world's largest number of roundabouts, over 30,000, where about one walker fatal occurs per 15,000 roundabouts yearly.

Consider what that means in terms a locality or area.  The Burlington VT Metro (Chittenden County, essentially) contains about a quarter of the Vermont population and about 125 or so signals (and three roundabouts) and perhaps another 25 busy intersections, mostly all-way stops, convertible to roundabouts,150 total.  Consider converting all these intersections (certainly over 90% can be feasibly converted)--then apply one walker fatality per 12,000 roundabout years based on U.S./Canadian experience to date plus apply the 66 walker injuries France experiences per walker fatality.  

Using these numbers as a yardstick, Burlington Metro would experience on the 150 roundabouts approximately one walker fatality per century--and one walker injury about every 15 months. Burlington City itself already this year experienced one walker fatality at a busy signalized intersection and a second serious injury within days of that fatality at another busy signalized intersection.

Roundabouts—like sidewalks—are the only two treatments recognized by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration to reduce walker fatalities and injuries by about 90%.  Clearly data presented here are approximations—but they illustrate the the huge difference in the scale of walker fatalities and injuries at roundabouts versus non-roundabouts. Note a 2000 study of U.S. roundabouts by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found about a 90% reduction of serious and fatal injures for all users.
We also know that the walker crash rates improve the more roundabouts that are built based on the French experience.  Also, as the U.S. society encourages the walking mode for health and other reasons so numbers of trips and modal share are expected to increase substantially. It is only fair to argue for safer streets and intersections which roundabouts offer: roundabouts slow street speeds as well as cutting fatality and injury rates at intersections themselves.

Carmelization already pays dividends for its namesake as Carmel just received an award as the most livable City in the U.S. due in large part to the positive effects of roundabouts ranging from increased safety and reduced congestion to a perception of an increase in vibrancy throughout the community.

The City of Carmel derives it name from biblical history, most probably Mt. Carmel which overlooks Haifa, Israel, a site rich in historical events. The biblical meaning of Carmel is “God's vineyard.” The roundabout use, “Carmelization” refers to the process well under way in Carmel, IN, provides another description of a valuable application which reduces human fatalities and injuries on our busy streets and highways. The new word, “Carmelization” defines a proactive policy creating a markedly higher plateau of walking safety for us all.

Monday, September 3, 2012


Sometimes a news analysis story ascends to the outstanding—it tells a tale for all to see and experience. In connecting the employment of roundabouts to changing the landscape and function of the city street system, it takes the next step to conclude the City as the best in the North America (yes, its comments on the U.S. equally apply to the other North American nations, Canada and Mexico).
It may not be possible to prove the emergence of a lively, socially interactive community comes from the roundabout, but community designers know that bicycle/walker friendly environments with low speeds and reduced delay for all modes creates the context for a lively social/economic fabric.
Most important, what Mayor Jim Brainard set in motion can be duplicated anywhere. The Carmel blueprint applies to large cities—San Francisco or Sacramento—or very small ones like Burlington (43,000 population), largest in Vermont and that State's Capital, Montpelier (8,000 population). Mayor Brainard stated a goal all can understand for his city: a one traffic signal town with 100 roundabouts.
The article:
Indianapolis Star, August 20, 2012
America's top small city: A drive into Carmel may justify its No. 1 ranking as small city
Carmel, with its many trails and bike lanes, loves to promote itself as a pedestrian- and bike-friendly city.
But you don’t have to get out of your car to see why anyone would think Carmel is the No. 1 small city in America to live — as Money Magazine believes.
In fact, I might suggest you stay in your car and take a drive through the city.
Notice the lack of traffic signals — there are only 38 in a city with about 400 miles of roads. Notice the lack of 4-way stops. Many have been replaced with roundabouts.
Think about what makes a small, suburban city a good place to live. Transportation is no doubt a major factor.
Carmel sprouted as a suburb of Indianapolis. Most drove into the city to work. Many still do.
A few years ago, a five-mile trip down Keystone Avenue from 146th to 96th Street took 15-20 minutes and included long stops at several traffic lights — think SUV’s, mini-vans and Toyota’s mixed in with semi’s.
It was a mess.
Today, thanks to new roundabout interchanges, there are no lights. And the trip takes about 6 minutes.
Over the past 15 years, Carmel aggressively replaced stop lights with free-flowing roundabouts and roundabout interchanges. The city has 57 roundabouts, more than any city its size in America. And there are 34 more planned in the near future.
The easier it becomes to drive, the easier it becomes to live.
But it’s not just the roundabouts and mobility. It’s also about low taxes, personal safety and becoming more than just a sleepy suburb.
People in Carmel used to have a simple routine. They’d work 9-to-5 in Downtown Indy, drive home, lock their front doors and fall asleep.
Today, if you sling-shot your way down Main Street on a summer’s eve, you’ll notice the crowds hanging out at places like Bub’s and Detour on the Monon Trail. Plenty of places to eat or grab a drink after hours.
Head south and check out the Carmel City Center, the Palladium and Center for the Performing Arts. Plenty of opportunities to catch a concert or a play.
And all around the area, apartments, condos and single family homes are occupied or under construction. Plenty of places to live.
Call Star reporter Dan McFeely at (317) 444-6253.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012



With the truly overnight growth from 0 to 46 commuter buses radiating outward from Burlington, VT each workday the obvious question arises, why not adding commuter rail services to serve Vermont workers and employers?

It goes without saying commuter rail with self-propelled vehicles handle upwards of 150 passengers per trip, reduce the need for the current 46 buses daily (though some would continue and new short link shuttle services added). Unlike buses, commuter rail serves the tourist, contain space for many bicycles, and set a backbone for an eventual in-state intercity rail passenger network.

The real reason for no commuter rail services lies in the American tradition of subsidizing cars only and failing to recognize governmental responsibility for assuring a multi-modal transportation system characterized by safety, efficiency, and sustainability in all senses of that word.

A Redington Blog dated June 8, 2012 describes transportation in terms of a Vermont household, i.e., basic consumer expenditures. It is no surprise that of the 16% of household expenditures devoted to transportation practically all—about 95%--gets gobbled up by moving around by car. Since Vermont median household income closely parallels the national figure, the ballpark figure for total ground transportation spending by Vermont households roughly comes to $1.986.

The June Blog outlines the proportion of funding as follows:
How does this $1.986 billion for Vermont consumer transportation expenditure annually break down in terms of public transportation, the car and “other” (primarily air but also intercity bus and rail)? The online “Urban Transportation Fact Book 2004 gives an indication urban breakdown which reflects a public transportation dimension: 94% “user operated” (best known as a car), 1.44% “purchased local transit” and 4.56% “purchased intercity.”

The key number involves expenditure on cars, 94%, translates to $1.87 billion for Vermont households spending on car transport. Since this number comes from an urban-based analysis, it understates somewhat the both the proportion and amount of Vermont households expenditures on cars. Using some data and making some guesstimates, here are the other ground transportation household expenditures by Vermont households along with associated government support:
                                                                             Vermont Transportaton
                                                           Household Expenditure             State/Federal/Local
Automobile                                                $1,986.0 million                  Over $100 million
Public transportation (bus services)               $16.0 million                 $39 million
Amtrak                                                           $15.0 million                    $4 million
Greyhound/Vermont Transit/Megabus           $25.0 million                  Substantial

Future Commuter Rail                                     $2.4 million                  $2.4 million

Several commuter rail plans dating back to 1989 provide the planning for operations, costs, schedules, etc. The next steps involve establishing the necessary rail authority, development of a short term plan for the first corridor, acquisition of equipment, preparation of stations, and startup of service.

Few would suggest erasing all local bus services in Vermont. Few would suggest ending Amtrak rail service. And private intercity bus services depend on infrastructure—highways, bridges, capital maintenance, etc.--funded by about 40% from non-highway user revenue sources. Commuter rail can easily serve far more Vermonter trips than Amtrak, rival commercial inter-city bus service trips, and also serve tourists and the tourist industry. The public cost of support for commuter rail—capital and operating--will be far less than current State expenditures for public transportation and somewhat more than Amtrak. (Note Amtrak support involve pure State tax dollars.) Also important much of the cost of installing new commuter rail service can be obtained from current federal transportation funding and likely special federal transportation appropriations.

In conclusion, consideration of commuter rail no longer needs to be a “vision” but as a task to be completed with the next two or three years. 

Notes:  1.  Public transportation expenditures/support based on multiplying Chittenden County Transportation Authority (CCTA) FY 2012 budget numbers by a factor of 4.
2.  Commercial bus expenditures a guesstimate
3.  Amtrak based on recent data annual passengers, 140,000, a typical ticket roundtrip to NYC at $106, and FY 2012 $4.5 million budget for the State cost share.
4.  See June Blog for additional sources of data.
5.  Future Commuter rail based on 200 day operation with about 3,000 trips daily (1,500 roundtrip commuters) or about three times the current year numbers on CCTA Link services.  Revenue roundtrip used is $7, a dollar less than current Burlington/Montpelier Link fares.   

Friday, August 24, 2012



In a letter dated August 22, 2012 to the Burlington (VT) Department of Public Works bringing to their attention a possible safety issue for bicyclists, also addressed is the Department's failure to address intersection safety. The only roundabout on the front burner was literally pressed on them by the Vermont Agency of Transportation—the City has none today. The letter reads in part:

Roundabouts—single laners and minis
Vermont, particularly the Burlington area, trails other progressive states, provinces and communities in adopting safe intersections, that is, mini- and regular single and two lane roundabouts. Unfortunately “complete streets” policy and law (and the research behind it) does not address safety at intersections in any way, and, in fact, adopting bike lanes without addressing intersection safety can reduce safety for all streets users.
Go back 15 years to 1997 when the Vermont Bicycle-Pedestrian Coalition adopted a policy supporting single lane roundabouts because they reduce walker injuries (and yes, car occupant injuries too) by about 90%. Mini-roundabouts installed in low-speed environments present a real solution to the four-way stop intersections which infect Burlington (they are against the law in the U.K.). Four-way stops on Maple, Pine and similar contexts create an opportunity for applying the low-cost mini- which even with lighted bollards at the walker crossings cost only a few thousand dollars.
Note that for New York State, Virginia and two western Canadian provinces their state/provinces transportation agency policies are “roundabouts only” (for Virginia Department of Transportation it is a “preference” for roundabouts). The facts of roundabouts generally are well known. As your Department knows, the Vermont Agency of Transportation refused to even consider a signal at the “rotary” and said it would fund a roundabout or nothing. Simply, the roundabout is a safety treatment and where a roundabout is feasible a signal is not a safe treatment.
Vermont's first mini- is now (finally!) being built in tandem with a one-laner at “malfunction” (soon to be “function”) junction in Manchester Center. Of course roundabouts also erase congestion, reduce pollutants and gasoline use at busy intersections by about 30%, enable denser land use, reduce delay for all users and beautify. But most important, they reduce serious and fatal injuries by about 90% (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study of U.S. roundabouts published in 2000). Roundabouts fit perfectly with the recent AAA findings that safety investments are far more important than dealing with congestion in metro areas, and that the President should hold a White House conference and adopt a “zero fatality rate” highway safety program.
Any town or region (especially Burlington and Chittenden County) need to review all their intersections for conversion to roundabouts—and the no regrets choice becomes the “low hanging” fruit, the list of prioritized intersections convertible to single lane and minis. A death and serious injury or two will continue each year at busy signalized intersections and four-way stops until conversion to roundabouts is completed. Yes, there is even a “safety bonus” to roundabout installations, the more you install the higher the level of safety on all roundabout—that is the experience of the French who lead the world at this time with 30,000 roundabouts.”

A copy of the letter was forwarded to the Burlington Walk Bike Council. Note that the Council name gets it right—it is “walk” not “pedestrian” and “bike” comes in its proper place as a second place transportation mode to the walking mode.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012



The lead Boston Globe editorial last Sunday touted Cambridge, MA instituting a new paradigm of pushing developers and existing businesses and institutions to reduce parking and incentivize non-driving behaviors—and the startling result that the community prospers, car traffic is down and all the benefits from reduced parking spaces needed, pollution reduction, etc. come along for the ride.

This Blog for  a few month pointed to the various program initiatives, studies and statistics—all leading to the same paradigm.  Behaviors and a long term factors create a growing latent citizen demand for transportation change from carcentricity. Yes, the success of roundabouts, demand for bicycle facilities, and community bike rental systems, and rapidly growing public transit usage--all reflect contain the kind of benefits which enables and spurs this new paradigm to thrive.

The letter sent on Monday, August 20 is as follows:

The University of Vermont, Champlain College and Fletcher Allen Health Care employ a third of Burlington's (VT) 30,000 workers.  This troika reduced solo driving by about 14 percent over the past decade, so you can change behaviors of folks anywhere with some simple incentives, new services and cooperative approaches ("More buildings,fewer cars help drive economic growth," Editorial Aug.19)--here in Vermont less cars, the same buildings!

A small office, Campus Area Transportation Management Association (CATMA), with a staff four serves the troika institutions.  Everything from regular drawings for merchant gift certificates for those walking and bicycling to work, discounted or free use of the transit system, and even private car share assistance for students to leave their cars at home rather than keeping them on campus--all contribute to the success in reducing solo driving and moving workers and students to alternatives to the solo drive.  Note New England states average car travel growth 2000-2010 hit an all time low of 3 percent with more states this decade likely to join Rhode Island which hit a negative number.  In Burlington during the last decade, low fare commuter buses began and now 46 buses daily ply three corridors into Burlington.  Lots of factors at play here, such as decades of stagnating wages, new transit services, and old time incentives.  The sanctity of solo driving really ended some time ago and the next step for Burlington clearly involves starting commuter rail services.  

When it comes to moving away from cars, we are long past the hope and hip deep in the change.”

Friday, August 17, 2012



Current TV ads promoting the State of New York cite the State being historically first in lots of areas—including the first lengthy transportation canal—and asserts the State still a leader in industry and commerce today. Early last century New York led the nation in developing rules of the road, the beginnings of highway design and safety, and traffic management--largely through the efforts of William Phelps Eno who born in a wealthy family actually never got a driver license.

Eno also gets credit for taking a traffic concept from a French town planner and installed the first traffic circle in New York City in 1905, Columbus Circle. This precursor of the modern roundabout was followed shortly thereafter in 1907 by Paris' Place Charles DeGaulle (then Place l'Etoile), and a circle in the first “garden city”, new town Letchworth, UK in 1909. It is fitting then that New York became the home of the first “roundabouts only” policy begun in 2005. New roundabouts can now be found throughout the State in spite of recent funding constraints for highway investment. For example, the Town of Malta, a suburb of Albany, already has twelve roundabouts with two more in development. New roundabouts can also be found in the downtowns and town centers, for examples, Glens Falls, Hamburg, Plattsburgh, Voorheesville, and Albany itself.

The “roundabouts only” policy of the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) was joined by the Virginia department (a “preference” for roundabouts) and two Canadian provincial departments, British Columbia (first) and Alberta. The Canadian rules call for roundabouts use whenever “more than two-way stop control” is required to control traffic. Once in place “roundabouts only” policies lead to most new installations being roundabouts and conversions of most, if not all, signalized intersections to roundabouts.

The “roundabouts only” policy located in the NYSDOT “Highway Design Manual” is as follows:

    1. Intersection at Grade
        5.9.1...when a project includes reconstructing or constructing new intersections, a roundabout alternative is to be analyzed to determine if it is a feasible solution based on site constraints, including ROW, environmental factors, and other design constraints.

...When the analysis shows that a roundabout is a feasible alternative, it should be considered the Department’s preferred alternative due to the proven substantial safety benefits and other operational benefits.

And California? Well behind the curve in adopting roundabout technology, the State transportation agency, Caltrans, seven years after New York moves towards a pro-roundabout approach as that agency ponders a policy which “requires consideration of a roundabout” when any investment takes place at an intersection. Within the past few years—really every year--California experienced high profile T-bone crashes at intersections, including the death of famed author David Halberstam and a horrific crash killing Anaheim Angels rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart (who had just pitched an excellent game) and two friends when the car Adenhart was driving got T-boned by a by a car running a red light.

The emerging Caltrans policy helps propel other states and localities to moved towards “roundabouts only” policies for no other reason than safety, the primary reason behind pro-roundabout policies to date. (Of course at busy intersections roundabouts cut delay for all users, reduce pollutant emissions and gas use by about 30%, cost less to maintain, and enhance scenic quality.) On average, anything but a roundabout generates serious and fatal injuries at a 900% greater rate. For walkers, a single lane roundabout reduces fatalities by about 90% and at two lane roundabouts also reduce walker injury crashes significantly.
With proper designs, roundabouts overall provide a safety benefit to bicyclists.

Welcome to the roundabout age California!