Seeing yet another set of traffic lights being erected at the four-way crossing on Tyson/South Sumas made me wonder why we continue to build these when a more cost efficient, safer and environmentally-friendly alternative exists that is completely unaffected by power outages. We have one roundabout, why are we not building more?
A recent article in the Economist mentioned the North American aversion to roundabouts and pointed out that the modern, safe roundabout first entered service in Britain back in 1966 with a design that is now found worldwide. Though tens of thousands of roundabouts exist across Europe, America still has only 3,000 of them and they have been slow to gain support in this country.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an independent research group, estimates that converting intersections with traffic lights to roundabouts reduces all crashes by 37 per cent and crashes that involve an injury by 75 per cent. At traffic lights the most common accidents are faster, right-angled collisions due to such things as drivers jumping the lights. These crashes are eliminated with roundabouts because vehicles are forced to travel more slowly and in the same direction.
It is generally recognized that it is far quicker to traverse a series of roundabouts than a similar number of stop lights. Indeed, one US study of ten intersections that could have been turned into roundabouts found that vehicle delays would have been reduced by 62-74% (nationally saving 325,000 hours of motorists’ time annually). Moreover, because fewer vehicles had to wait for traffic lights, 235,000 gallons of fuel could have been saved.
With over 20 sets of traffic lights between Vedder Bridge and the downtown area alone, we have a lot of potential savings available to the motorists of Chilliwack.