This week, the Buffalo News highlighted the proposed roundabouts for Parker Blvd in Tonawanda.
You can read the article here.
Read the town’s report here.

It needs support of Tonawanda Residents.

We’re in full support of this project. Tonawanda committed in 2017 to a Complete Streets policy, meaning whenever a street is up for repaving, or a route may be changed, every user should be given consideration for access and safety, whether you’re walking, rolling, biking, using transit, driving a fire truck, or driving alone in a car – rather than a cars-first approach. However, since 2017, Tonawanda has squashed any Complete Streets design proposals when it came time for repaving etc. That’s due primarily to a misinformed public. This redesign of Parker Blvd has the legs, but it needs vocal support from Tonawanda residents who are also in favor. That’s letters, emails, calls.

Tonawanda’s Town Supervisor is asking for support at this Monday, March 28th’s meeting. Be there in person if you can and speak up in favor of making Tonawanda a safer place for children and adults to walk and ride, not just hop into a car.

So what are people saying?

The same thing they often say early, before adapting. Redesigns like roundabouts are often pushed back against (like all change) by communities, until they adjust to them and begin to love them for their “Go slow, but still flow” purpose, unlike the frustration of ill-timed or broken-sensored stop lights around the region, often sitting untouched since the 1970’s. They slow traffic down so much, that they’re often more effective than stop signs which drivers frequently roll through and illegally treat like a yield sign instead, which puts pedestrians in danger.



Pulling from the Facebook comments on the Buffalo News’ post:

Roundabouts aren’t easy for pedestrians to cross
OK let’s break that down. They actually create a safe island for a pedestrian after crossing only one lane, which is narrower than a lane in a 4-way intersection, before crossing the next lane, which makes the experience for a pedestrian less dangerous, less stressful, and easier for those with disability/mobility issues.

As I drove them for years watched people trying to cross them it wasn’t easy for them”

Jim Jones, GObike’s Complete Streets Engineer:
“Presently a pedestrian crossing Parker at the crosswalk has to walk 63 feet while exposed to two-way traffic. A properly designed mini-roundabout reduces the pedestrian crossing distance to about 13 feet and vehicles using the roundabout are traveling at 15 MPH or less. Plus, the pedestrian need only negotiate one direction of travel at a time.”

Go try and cross Harlem rd

Jim Jones:
I recall those intersections before they were converted. Such an improvement. The roundabouts in Hamburg are even better. After traveling through them a time or two, I acclimated just fine as most thoughtful drivers do. Typically, about 60 – 65% of users oppose roundabout prior to installation however, once they are installed user surveys flip to 60-65% approval. Likewise, there was a similar level of concern when the HAWK beacons were installed across the 7 lanes of Sheridan Drive, now most folks have acclimated and appreciate them.

This is what we’re going to spend our tax dollars on?

At the pool that will work out well .why not use money to fix some of the bad roads

Jim Jones:
The town received a federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant for about 80% of the project cost. Grants such as these have already been funded by taxpayers like us and if the town had not applied, then those federal tax dollars paid by Tonawanda residents would be used in some other community by some other project.

Roundabouts are dangerous.

Roundabouts are nothing but accidents waiting to happen,no one will slow down (angry emoji)

Jim Jones:
Mini roundabouts slow vehicular traffic by means of geometric design techniques. Drivers do slow down and are well documented and supported by data, reports and design guidance. The percentage of crashes involving an injury or fatality is approximately 25 percent higher at signalized intersections. Crashes that do occur at a roundabout are less severe due to lower speeds and do not involve T-bone or head-on conflict points. Not only do vehicles gain safety while going though an intersection so do the other legal users of the street such as pedestrians and bicyclists. Have you ever sat at a traffic signal and no vehicle movement occurs? If you are interested in learning more about mini roundabouts watch the Shakopee, MN example or read chapter 8 of the NYS driver manual.

So what’s next?

The town wants to move this forward. They want to promote safety for their residents. But they expect a backlash from a small group of people. They’re encouraging those who support it to be present Monday night.

Simply put, roundabouts force cars to slow. Wide, straight roads encourage speeding. When you’re hit by a car doing 20mph, you have over an 80% chance of survival. When hit by a car doing 40mph, you have over an 80% of dying. With these roundabouts in place, cars will go slow, but still flow. They can accommodate buses, fire trucks, and a 7-passenger SUV.

The remaining problems cited of people not knowing how to drive through them can be addressed in the Crash Victims Rights and Safety Act, a series of bills currently up in Albany (passing in the Senate, stalled in the Assembly, and need your push there, too) where one of these bills would change requirements at the NYS DMV of new drivers. It would incorporate language into the lessons and tests about how to share the road with people who walk and bike, how to yield properly at intersections and roundabouts, and more.

So we should not throw our hands up in the air, and say roundabouts are dangerous because we know nothing about them, or because we doubt the public knows how to use them. We should enact solutions on design and education instead. Because at the end of the day, it’s about saving lives, not driving as fast as you want.