There are more roundabouts coming for Chilliwack.
Aside from the most recent built at the Vedder Bridge, future locations include: Vedder Mountain at Cultus Lake Road, Prest at Chilliwack Central, Lickman at Luckakuck, and Prest at McGuire, according to City of Chilliwack reps.
Roundabouts are statistically proven to reduce fatal crashes, and keep traffic moving smoothly, so city staff have recommended their use more frequently in the past decade, based on up-to-date best practices and sound engineering.
But it is always decided on a case-by-case basis in Chilliwack, nonetheless.
What has become somewhat controversial, at the public level at least, is the practice of placing visual obstructions in the “centre button” of a roundabout.
Chilliwack Progress reader Alice Scheibelhofer commented on a recent story about the Vedder Road Roundabout Art Project: “Another distraction for drivers who don’t know how to drive in a roundabout in the first place. Whatever happened to common sense?”
Another Progress reader, Lana Lee, responded: “If you can’t drive in a roundabout without being distracted, you shouldn’t be driving.”
According the Engineering Deparment’s 4th quarter report to city council from 2016:
“Placing public art in roundabouts is a common practice that makes roundabouts safer to use. Visual obstructions within a defined area in the centre of roundabout limit drivers’ views to the other side, deterring them from using excessive speed while driving in roundabouts,” according to the report.
To date in Chilliwack, there has been vertical landscaping planted in centre buttons, such as shrubs or trees, but in the case of two new roundabouts, there are plans for the installation of public art.
The Giant Flowers design by Ron Simmer was the first public art project approved for the Evans Road roundabout by city council after a recommendation by the Public Art Advisory Committee.
The flowers installation will soon grace the centre button of the Evans roundabout, while the second public art project on Vedder Road near the bridge will feature a traditional dugout canoe with paddles and cascading water at the Vedder bridge.
One of the reasons is because roundabout design guidelines specifically state that a visual barrier restricting the driver’s view straight across, ensures that from a distance, and especially under low light conditions, that the driver recognizes the intersection before entering the roundabout. It also reduces speeds.
The driver should only be looking left, and once satisfied there no oncoming traffic, proceed into the roundabout.
Full signalization upgrades are slated for several extremely busy intersections in the next few years, such as: Tyson at Stevenson, Promontory at Chilliwack River, Vedder at Thomas, Vedder at Keith Wilson and Vedder at South Sumas.