By Mark Barnes
Expectations are that Kuna will begin seeing Ada County Highway District construction on key intersections converting them to roundabouts sometime in the next few years. Some residents still have concerns however about pedestrian safety and increased traffic accidents from people not used to the roundabout concept.
In February of this year, a representative from ACHD gave a presentation to Kuna City Council that explained roundabouts and addressed concerns from council members.
Three Kuna intersections are currently slated for conversions to roundabouts.
• A single lane roundabout at 3rd/Main/Linder.
• A multi-lane roundabout at Deer Flat/Linder.
• A multi-lane roundabout at Ten Mile and Hubbard
Depending upon the results from the recent ACHD workshop to develop a plan for the proposed Kuna railroad overpass, there could be an additional roundabout for the Avalon/Swan Falls/Linder intersection.
According to research in Golden, Colorado, the city added multiple roundabouts throughout their downtown area. Traffic flow increased by 30 percent. There were 60 percent fewer crashes and 96 percent fewer injuries. Additional studies have shown that with traditional intersections there are 32 possible vehicle conflict points. With roundabouts, there are only eight points resulting in 48 percent fewer crashes and 78 percent fewer injuries.
There are arguments from residents that a roundabout at Deer Flat and Linder might pose a pedestrian traffic issue for students going to school. Pedestrian crossings are set back from the roundabout circle and walkers must only deal with one-way traffic at any one time. Cars enter and egress the roundabout at much slower speeds with no vehicles speeding up to make the light that makes it safer for pedestrians as well. Crossing guards, who are currently at heavily trafficked intersections during school hours, would most likely continue.
Vehicle on vehicle crashes are dramatically reduced as well. According to research, “Since most road users travel at similar speeds through roundabouts, crash severity can be reduced compared to some traditionally controlled intersections.”
Basically, roundabouts are safer for all involved, pedestrians, vehicles, and even bicycles. And, if there are crashes between any of them, injuries are far reduced due to the lower speeds. Ironically, while speeds through the intersection are slower, more traffic moves through the intersection because there is a constant flow.
Even the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) approves. “AARP would like to see more roundabouts constructed because of the many safety benefits that they present for drivers of all ages,” said Jana Lynott, Strategic Policy Advisor for AARP.
Negative attitudes towards roundabouts are common. In one study pre-roundabout attitudes were mostly negative (40-45 percent) and very negative (20-25 percent). In areas where roundabouts have been constructed, attitudes about them switch to positive (40 percent) and very positive (30-35 percent).
You’ll be seeing a lot more of them in the years to come, too. ACHD has identified nearly
240 intersections across Ada County that would benefit from a roundabout.