Roundabout vote

Dear Editor,

It was bound to happen right? A letter to the editor from a council member who voted for the roundabout.

Well, here it is.

In late 2004 my dad was traveling through Waterford and was involved in a motorcycle accident. He died just minutes after impact. In fact, I met the guy who was there when he died. He told me how my dad was slumped over and quietly passed. Two days shy of ten years later, they opened up the roundabout at the intersection where my dad died. Every day since then I think how my dad could be alive today if that had been installed. I think about how he would still be alive to see his grandson. I think how he and I could sit at the bar and have a beer. I think how he and I could talk and make amends about things we have said. I think how he and I could talk about motorcycles or politics. I think, what if that roundabout had been there? It has always bothered me.

Fast forward to 2019. I’m on council. Warren has an option to install a light, or a roundabout at an intersection. It’s been 15 years since my dad passed, and five years since they installed the roundabout in Waterford. I’m on City Council. Me, the son who lost his father in an accident who has, for five years, been thinking often “what if that roundabout had been there then…” is now asked to decide between a roundabout or a light option at an intersection. Coincidence?

I voted for the roundabout. I would do it again. I would vote yes every single time. If I can prevent anyone from feeling the loss that I have felt, the pain, sadness of losing a loved one, I will. Yes, I know no one has died at that intersection (to my knowledge) but I couldn’t live with myself if someone did knowing that my vote could have possibly saved a life. PennDOT provided statistics, the chances of death are basically nill. It is the safer option.

I’ve been approached on numerous occasions; during council meetings, out in the public, and through this medium in our local newspaper, to say nothing of the comments that have been shared with me and about me on social media. I’ve been told by a fellow member of our City Council, in a roundabout way, that I do not have the intellect to speak on, nor even to discuss this matter. These are my credentials: I based my vote in favor of the roundabout on the statistics and data provided by PennDOT, (from whom, for the record I have certainly received nothing other than statistics and data itself). I based my reasoning for that vote in favor of the roundabout on my personal lived experience.

Though you may disagree with my decision, I thought it was important to vote this way, to explain why I voted the way I did, and to defend my decision.

Your city council member,

Phil Gilbert Jr.,