“The greatest thing about roundabouts is that they almost prevent these fatal and catastrophic accidents – they just can’t happen, you’re left with very minor accidents,” says a city official
Once considered the domain of other countries, especially the UK, roundabouts slowly come to an intersection near you.
While the roundabout experience for Barrie drivers is currently limited to the Park Place shopping district and one roundabout at The Queensway in the south of the city, Simcoe County has already developed a handful with plans to create more in the years to come.
Barrie also has a few in its plans to get ahead of specific issues before projected population growth complicates them further, but they are years away.
“Roundabouts are commonplace throughout Europe and are becoming increasingly common in Ontario as they represent an effective long-term solution for improving intersections – increasing safety and capacity at lower maintenance costs. lower overall,” explained Julie Scruton, Transportation Construction Manager for Simcoe County. .
Poplar Sideroad (County Road 32) and High Street in Collingwood have long had roundabouts. Last year another was built at County Road 93 and Vindin Street and Golf Link Road in Penetanguishene and Midland.
There are plans to introduce a series in the Horseshoe Valley as well as Innisfil, Essa and Springwater Townships as well.
“Roundabouts were selected by the county in these cases because of their many advantages over traditional intersections, including: reduced risk of serious injury by reducing speed at intersections; increase in traffic capacity; fewer stops and shorter times at the intersection; and reduced maintenance costs,” added Scruton.
In Barrie, a roundabout is included in the long-range plans for Ross, Collier and Bayfield streets — which will help align Ross and Collier better with Bayfield.
An environmental assessment is also underway for Bradford Street for the construction of two roundabouts at Tiffin Street and Lakeshore Drive.
Kempenfelt Bay intersects with the city’s transportation network and disrupts the grid system that a community would typically have, said Brett Gratrix, senior project manager for the city’s transportation planning and development departments.
“So we have a lot of traffic that is funneled into a very narrow area of town between Anne Street and Lakeshore Drive,” he said.
Before the pandemic, afternoon traffic was often slow along Lakeshore Drive.
This can only get worse as the city’s population doubles to 298,000 by 2051.
The plan is to have a functional system to accommodate this growth. But he points out that they are not yet included in the city’s five- to 10-year capital planning.
Others are planned at the ends of the secondary development zones of the city, at the southern end.
While widely recognized as beneficial to traffic and safety, Gratrix said they are used in Barrie to solve specific traffic or geometric problems, such as the Ross/Collier/Bayfield and Lakeshore/ Tiffin/Bradford.
They present a different set of circumstances for pedestrians and cyclists and could be a challenge, he added. The landmarks of a traditional crossroads — the flashing and beeper heads — do not exist in roundabouts.
“It’s certainly a doable solution, but it’s coupled with education for motorists and cyclists,” he said.
Vehicles must yield to pedestrians in roundabouts, which means drivers need to be aware of their surroundings.
Al Zurawski, regional trainer for Young Drivers of Canada in Barrie, sees the benefits.
“From a road safety perspective, it makes sense,” said the local driving instructor. “The purpose of them is to allow you to transition from one street to another,” eliminating any cross-flow as well as the potential for fatal head-on collisions.
The main thing is to pay attention to the signs leading to the roundabout to know which lane to be in, he advises.
The right lane is for those who need to exit at the first street. Those wishing to exit later use the inner route. And the person who wants to get off has the right of way.
And although they are increasingly seen as an option, Gratrix sees the greatest benefit of roundabouts on regional and provincial roads with higher vehicle speeds, given their safety benefits for drivers.
He points to statistics from the US Federal Highway Administration which show a reduction of more than 90% in fatalities, 76% in injuries and 35% in all accidents.
“The greatest thing about roundabouts is that they almost prevent these fatal and catastrophic accidents — they just can’t happen, what you’re left with are very minor accidents, like little side-swipes while you’re in the roundabout,” he said. “It eliminates those head-on collisions.”
Pedestrians should use the pavement or paved shoulder on the perimeter of the roundabout, Scruton added, adding that roundabouts are generally considered safer for pedestrians.
Pedestrian crossings on curbside concrete splitter islands are designed to allow pedestrians to cross one lane of traffic, stop on the island until traffic is cleared, and then cross the second lane.
Cyclists can either get off and cross each road as pedestrians, or take the center of their lane and share the road with motorists, she added.
Simcoe County also plans to install roundabouts in the following areas over the next year:
— County Road 21 and County Road 56 in Essa Township, scheduled for construction in 2022;
— County Road 53 and Carson/Seaton in Springwater Township, scheduled for construction in 2022-2023;
These projects are in the books for the following years:
— Gray Road 19 / County Road 34 and Mountain Road – a joint project run by Gray County, tentatively scheduled for construction in 2024;
— County Road 4 and 9th Line Innisfil, tentatively scheduled for construction in 2025;
— County Road 22 (Horseshoe Valley Road) and 3rd Line Oro-Medonte, tentatively scheduled for construction in 2027;
— County Road 22 (Horseshoe Valley Road) and Horseshoe Boulevard, tentatively scheduled for construction in 2024-25; and
— County Road 22 (Horseshoe Valley Road) and 4th Line Oro-Medonte, tentatively scheduled for construction in 2026.