I would like to say “thank you” to James Foringer for writing the comprehensive article, “Why roundabouts? PennDOT says safety,” on today’s (Tuesday) editorial page.
Mr. Foringer cited several features designed into a roundabout option that enhance pedestrian safety versus an at-grade, signalized intersection option. As I see it… they may or may not. In a recent letter to the editor (8-24-2018) I raised the question asking “how the roundabout would accomplish the explicit reasons why a roundabout is the better of the two options (1) improved safety and (2) smoother traffic flow while bearing in mind two caveats: (1) PA motorist law requires all motorists to yield the right of way to pedestrians at crosswalks and (2) motorist do not reliably yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks without “Yield to Pedestrian Channeling Devices” (i.e. Liberty Street/Pennsylvania Ave intersection).”
Some of the pedestrian safety features cited in today’s article were (1) all entrances to a roundabout are yield conditions for motorists, who are always turning right; (2) the pedestrian crossings are set back at least a car length from the actual roundabout; and (3) there would be numerous traffic signs indicating the need for drivers to yield and indicators that a crosswalk and a roundabout were ahead. It was not stated that any of the yield conditions or signs would direct motorists to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks.
Again, an emphasis was on the continuously flowing nature of the traffic flow. What was not described was how this would be attained if motorists were to yield for pedestrians twenty-four hours a day including peak traffic hours and where those entry gaps are going to appear for motorist trying to enter at all the four entry points during heavy traffic.
As I see it, the crux of the problem is this: there will be motorist who have entered into the roundabout; pedestrians at one or more crosswalks; motorists waiting to exit the roundabout while yielding to pedestrians; motorists waiting behind the yielding motorist; and motorists wanting to enter into the roundabout while waiting for a pedestrian or a gap in traffic. It is not clear how this is going to make the intersection traffic flow more smoothly or be safer for pedestrians.
I am wondering if the operative assumption is that pedestrians, though they have the right of way at crosswalks in Pennsylvania, will not exercise that right because they will yield to on-coming car and truck traffic in order to avoid injury to themselves, particularly if there are not prominent yield to pedestrian signs and/or channeling devices thus increasing the smoother flow of motorist traffic. Thank you.