Monday, June 22, 2020

Burlington "Systematic Safety" Program for Dummies

 June 12  @TonyRVT60 :
BTV [Burlington] "Systematic Safety" Program for Dummies: Now, 150 injuries/yr, 1 fatal/3 years. Convert our 21 VT high crash intersections (1.4 injuries/yr. each) to roundabout. After: 20% injury drop to 130, 1 fatal/3 yrs. to 1/5 yr.; 100,000 gallons gas/yr cut cools planet! #btv #vtpoli

Upon further reflection additional background to "BTV Systematic Safety for Dummies" connects directly with AAA's study of the impact of roundabouts being 30% of the estimated US reduction of 63,000 deaths and 353,000 serious injuries.  

That background is combined with the known downtown roundabout safety performance uniquely recorded right here in Vermont--we are reasonably confident that  90% or more reduction in injuries can be obtained by converting signals with poor injury performance to roundabouts.

BTV "Systematic Safety" Program for Dummies: Now, 150 injuries/yr, 1 fatal/3 years. Convert our 21 VT high crash intersections (1.4 injuries/yr. each) to roundabout. After: 20% injury drop to 130, 1 fatal/3 yrs. to 1/5 yr.; 100,000 gallons gas/yr cut cools planet! #btv #vtpoli

The identification of the current U.S. yearly pandemic of excess highway fatalities—21,000—and 4-5 times as many serious injuries along with actions led by roundabouts is reflected in the American Automobile Association Foundation (AAA) 2017 report calling for a Vision 0 fatality policy on highway safety and advocating 10 proven roadway treatments to decrease over 20 years 63,000 deaths and 353,000 serious injuries. The top of ten proven treatments is the roundabout, alone responsible for 30% of the reductions. Roundabouts “first,” again. (See AAA report Safety Benefits of Highway Infrastructure Investments” https://aaafoundation.org/safety-benefits-of-highway-infrastructure-investments/ )  

If Burlington, VT were not itself part of the US national highway fatality/serious injury pandemic and its infrastructure were up to snuff of the four leading nations (Norway, Denmark, Ireland and Switzerland) then instead of a 20% drop in injuries with installation of 21 roundabouts at high crash locations, then the comparable pro rata figure would be 8 less injuries, a 5.3% reduction.

In US highway safety no lives seem to matter much. Note the City's transportation plan states that in regard to transportation safety is “critical.”  Yes, we know the drop of injuries will be about 90% when roundabouts are installed in Burlington. The five downtown Vermont roundabouts first half century of service recorded 0 bike injuries, one pedestrian and four car occupant injuries—none serious. At least four of the Burlington roundabouts—along the four intersections on North Street between North Avenue and North Union would be mini roundabouts. 

Only two for certain would be two lane roundabouts—Colchester/Barrett/Riverside (site of a pedestrian death) and Shelburne Road/Home Avenue (site of a pedestrian death and a car occupant death). Vermont's one two-lane roundabout safety record—five years before and five years after the roundabout was installed in 1990 at I 91/US 5/VT9--was 55 injuries including a fatality as a signalized intersection and just 1 injury as a roundabout—a 98% injury reduction. The majority of the remaining Burlington high crash intersections would be single lane roundabouts similar to the Shelburne Roundabout (at the “rotary”) now scheduled in 2022 after a decade of delay.

Note there are many, many more benefits of roundabout magic—scenic quality, reduced delay, reducing sprawl, global cooling, etc., etc.

              Converting Burlington's "Crash 20" High Crash Intersections to Roundabouts


 The following which shows the impact of converting 21 of Burlington's 75 traffic signals to roundabouts using just those on the current official list of high crash rate intersections. This integrates a number of data sources but to me suggests a complete lack of most jurisdictions in the United States rationally addressing the 21,000 excess fatalities a year on our highways—in this case addressing urban highway deaths and injuries. AAA, Geico, IIHS, AARP—among others—clearly provide research and policy leadership which is wholly ignored. 

In other words, systematic safety programming is the answer to address our home grown pandemic of highway deaths and its “hot spot” of pedestrian fatalities (up 90% over the last decade and hitting numbers not seen since 1990, the last time the US  was number one in worldwide safety).


Burlington is just a few miles across Lake Champlain from New York State where the NY State DOT adopted a landmark “roundabout first” regulation (except NYC which fought them for more than a decade) in 2005. While Vermont once led New England in roundabout development in the 1990s, the Burlington “metro” (our only one!) has the distinction of 0 roundabouts on a busy public intersection. Expect to change during the coming decade! 

Friday, June 19, 2020

"Dutch Treat" Roundabout Coming to BTV's East Ave/Colchester Ave High Crash Info


East Ave/Colchester Ave Roundabout Magic Dutch Style?


The Neighborhood Planning Assembly Wards 1/8 update June 10 on the East Ave/Colchester Ave intersection and corridor walk/improvements brought evidence the roundabout with a safe separate bicycle lane now gaining favor as reported by NPA advisory committee Dave Cawley and regional planner Jason Charest. Thanks to Rick Sharpe, Segway tour service owner, who questioned the initial design at Walk Bike Council in February, the pure Dutch separate lane now the selected candidate is easily accommodated with the ample publicly owned rights of way available.   ( see the NPA meeting here with the discussion of Colchester/East beginning at 1:36:53  


The roundabout has many, many magical properties but key for East Avenue, the a speed challenged connection between Colchester and Main Street, is the traffic calming property extending several hundred feet along each leg.  The traffic calming at each end with a roundabout at both Colchester and Carrigan Drive enables addressing safety and speeds between.  With roundabouts in place, speed management can take place in the central area.

Charest explained that a slight shift of the roundabout placement a few feet toward the former Trinity College side of Colchester not only removes any interference with the India House restaurant facility but also results in a better alignment with East Ave.  The roundabout is a real asset to the India House parking area as no vehicle will ever have to make a left turn to enter the parking area, and experience has shown here in Vermont exiting right or even left at peak hours involves little or no delay because of reduced speeds of traffic at the roundabout. 

From a safety standpoint, East Ave/Colchester is one of the “BTV Crash 20” intersections (all but one signalized) and all averaging at least one injury in the five year span used to determine the 111 current Vermont high crash intersections (18% in BTV!).    Our five downtown Vermont roundabouts by comparison in over a half century of service recorded not a single cyclist injury, one non-serious pedestrian injury and four non-serious car occupant injuries—less than one injury a decade.  Note that bicycle designs for roundabouts have evolved since 2000 and are being applied to the Shelburne Street (“rotary”) roundabout at the “intersection of death” as some in the neighborhood call it and here at Colchester Ave/East Ave.


And just a reminder, the Winooski traffic circle, the size of Thunder Road, would easily hold three roundabouts with plenty of room left over!  And roundabouts fit without much trouble at over 90% of signalized intersections—there are about 75 signalized intersections in Burlington. 

         Safety—Colchester/East 15th Worst in Vermont

The U.S. in falling from first to fifteenth in the world in highway safety now has more than twice the deaths per vehicle mile of travel of the four top nations, 21,000 excess deaths yearly, a truly highway pandemic of deaths and serious injuries—about 30 excess deaths here in Vermont.  An AAA highway infrastructure investment of ten proven death reducing fatals by 63,000 over 20 years finds roundabouts first on the list, roundabouts alone accounting for 30% of the reduced deaths (about 20,000 or 1,000 a year).  Overall the roundabout cuts serious and fatal injuries by about 90%.  That is why in New York since 2005 and increasingly now in other jurisdictions intersections policy is “roundabouts first.”  

Burlington Crash 20 intersections averaged 28 injuries a year, about 20 percent of the 150 injuries on our streets yearly.  We experience a fatality about once in three years, with most recent since 1998 at intersections, three pedestrians, three car occupants and one cyclist.  One of the pedestrian fatals was on the crosswalk on Barrett at Colchester/Riverside, Sam Lapointe of Winooski.  Each week during “normal” times two car occupants are injured and one pedestrian or cyclist. 



Colchester/East is the 15th highest high crash intersection in Vermont with the following recorded in the five year period tabulated:  44 crashes, 9 injuries and 35 Property Damage Only crashes.  Based on Vermont experience a roundabout would cut the injury rate from rate of about 18 a decade  to one or two.  Few of us have escaped the pain and suffering experienced in our family or those we know each decade from car crashes.  There is also the heavy cost in police/emergency incidents and incident management as well as the cost we all bear in car insurance rates.  The fact that car insurance is done at the provincial level in British Columbia and the experience of few claims at roundabouts led to that province being first in Canada to adopt a highway “roundabouts first” regulation about 2010. 

It is my suggestion that Burlington seek full 100% funding with federal funds of the roundabout conversion at Colchester/East as the project could quite easily move ahead because of its priority and right-of-way availability.  The Shelburne Roundabout is 100% safety funded (including utilities).

Let’s hope whoever is Mayor in 2021 that the roundabout demonstration goes forward on North Winooski at the North St intersection (another Crash 20 member), the “intersection of death” after a decade of waiting gets it roundabout in 2022, and East Ave/Colchester Ave “Dutch” roundabout (first for Vermont!) move swiftly to bring roundabout magic to the area.

Website at CCRPC with all study documents, background, etc.:
https://www.ccrpcvt.org/our-work/transportation/current-projects/scoping/colchester-ave-bikeways-parking-and-intersection-safety/