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Like Them or Hate Them? Roundabouts Generate Debate

City's recent decision for a new roundabout causes mixed reaction

A lot of people have strong opinions about roundabouts. Now, the City Council’s support for building one at North Avenue and Brookfield Road is generating heated reaction – and it’s divided, just like aldermen were.

The plan, which the Council this week, now goes to Waukesha County, which will pay for and ultimately decide what to do with the intersection. The two options under consideration were a roundabout and traffic signals. The Council chose the roundabout in an 8-6 vote that is advisory to the County.

A traffic engineering study provided research to aldermen that roundabouts have better safety statistics. However, opponents of the roundabout at that location are mostly concerned about the proximity to Brookfield Elementary School.

A sampling from citizen comments on the Patch Facebook site about the roundabout vote: 

Patty Gaulke: “A roundabout at this corner is not the answer. Something needs to be done to improve safety, but with limited area there a traffic light would be a much better option. I hate the other roundabout at Barker and North and avoid it at all costs.”

Erin Lindell: “I’m so relieved this is being considered—we live nearby and this intersection is the WORST during rush hour, especially on days the recycling center is open. I love the idea of a roundabout, just not sure if there’s enough room? Seems like it might be the best solution to keep things moving, though.”

Mary Baxa: “LOVE roundabouts! This will really help that intersection!”

Samantha Brojanac: “Hate that intersection love roundabouts but seems a little dangerous for the kids that bike/walk to school each day.”

Rebecca Murray Wilson: “I live just north of the roundabout on North and Barker. I have seen several accidents there. People just don’t know how to yield. I have seen people BRAKE while going around and almost cause a pileup. Is it that they just get confused???....As a new mom of a Kindergartner at BrookEl this year…maybe a light would be better? That intersection is always busy and people just sit there and wait until the next person goes and it ends up that a lot of drivers just go at the same time. I would NEVER EVER let my child (either this age or older) walk through that intersection either with a light or a roundabout. It’s just too dangerous.”

Nicole Krebs: “Pedestrians, bus traffic, cars with trailers, emergency vehicles etc., will all be challenged by a roundabout. The traffic that comes south after a train has been through is unbelievable. This will be interesting! When is there going to be a conversation re: appropriate walking paths leading to Brook El?”

Shelley Botcheck: “I grew up with roundabouts – and they are so much more efficient and in my opinion safer than four-way stops and lights. Traffic flow is much better. I would like to see more of them.”

Laura Hintzman Schmidt: “My daughter and I were just in an accident at that intersection. Man ran the stop sign (never even slowed down) and totaled our car. I hear that is the intersection with the greatest number of accidents in the area. So improvements are needed.”

The City Council packet given to aldermen shows they received a large amount of feedback from citizens on the topic. This feedback also was sharply divided. 

A sampling of some of the comments on both sides:

Georgia Bauwens: “I was just made aware about the roundabout and sidewalk plans that are coming at us pretty quickly. I heard about the possibility and many times when I am sitting in my car on that corner, I try to imagine a roundabout and just can’t. …I just don’t think there is the proper space for it. As much as I hate the idea of lights on that corner, I really don’t approve of the roundabout there.”

Edward and Patricia Virnig: “Roundabouts are another example of the wasteful spending of the State of Wisconsin and Waukesha County, in addition to being inefficient and unsafe. Tell the parents of the children who walk to school through this intersection when they get run over because there is no stop sign or light.”

Pete Dhein III: “I question the available space for a decent roundabout without significantly disrupting existing landscapes and thereby impacting property values. Further, a sidewalk to nowhere does not seem to reflect fiscal responsibility.”

Stephen and Liette Fales: “Both the roundabout and the sidewalk would completely and permanently change the character of not only the neighboring subdivisions but that of the city as well. ..We do not want to become known as the ‘roundabout community.’ Adding a roundabout to this area would also compromise the safety of our children walking and riding bicycles to Brookfield Elementary School.”

Nicole Van Peursem: “While I agree that traffic does back up at the intersection, I strongly believe there is NOT adequate room for a roundabout.”

Lloyd Brown: “If you choose to build a roundabout at this intersection, you will be intentionally putting school children in harm’s way.”

Bill and Kathy Reilley: “We are in favor of the roundabout option…the impact of the roundabout on our property would be limited…”

Janis Rollefson: “We don’t believe the stop light proposal would effectively eliminate our primary concern- the noise factor created by the constant starting and stopping of vehicles. Also, the stop lights would still create significant traffic backups…we support the proposal for the roundabout…”

Dick Prudlow: “I believe the roundabout would keep traffic moving like it does on Barker Road, thus being the better of the two proposals.”

Curt Peterson: “We vote for the roundabout.”

Michael Matrise: “I favor the roundabout concept. Reason, continued traffic flow, less take off noise, safer due to less backup for emergency vehicles, fuel savings, better for snow plowing, much better aesthetics.”

Tony Redington August 25, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Change makes us uncomfortable--using safety belts in cars, helmets on bicycles, traffic calming....and roundabouts. But the roundabout truly represents the intersection "safety belt", the technology which combined with sidewalks creates a safe street. Anything but a roundabout, on average, generates a 900% greater rate of serious injury and death with walkers and car occupants the major beneficiaries of the roundabout. Carmel, IN now reaches two-thirds of its goal of one traffic signal and 100 roundabouts (all its several freeway interchanges are roundabouts). If its feasible to build one, the only choice is a roundabout. Tony Redington Blog: TonyRVT.blogspot,com
Johnny Paycheck August 26, 2012 at 03:25 AM
It's not change that make the roundabouts unpopular. Once we start putting them in it won't be long and there will be roundabouts everywhere, which makes for a truly dizzying ride. Roundabouts are EVERYWHERE in Germany and it's not fun driving in circles all the time.
big ben August 27, 2012 at 04:41 AM
this is what I think about round abouts http://www.nigga-stole-my-bike.com/meatspin/?ver=doa
ScottRAB August 28, 2012 at 10:04 PM
US schools with modern roundabouts nearby: Ladera Ranch Middle/Elementary School, Ladera Ranch, CA Pine Lake Elementary, Issaquah, WA Sunset Elementary, Bellevue, WA Cotton Elementary, San Antonio, TX Skyview Elementary, Clearwater, FL Sunflower Elementary, Lawrence, KS Fruitville Elementary, Venice, FL First Ward Elementary, Charlotte, NC Cherokee Elementary, Cincinnati, OH Truscott Elementary, Loveland, CO
big ben August 31, 2012 at 09:14 PM
my bad above wrong link sorry!

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