Posted July 17th, 2013, 11:16 PM
Last edited by The_Big_M; July 17th, 2013 at 11:19 PM
But I cannot, for the life of me, think why a pedestrian would want to cross at a roundabout. They are an intersection of (at least) two major roads.
Perhaps you are only talking about roundabouts on freeways, outside residential areas. In our suburban area, they are dotted all through them, and there are also roundabouts on highways and other roads where pedestrians also need to cross.
For pedestrians there are a couple of issues. The minor one is that they make the route longer as they make the path detour to the side, since the size of the roundabout cuts away the regular path. Not a big deal for one roundabout, but more annoying when you have many of them.
However, the major one is that they significantly increase the danger. Normally if you cross, you look to the right, yada, yada. Or at traffic lights it's controlled. However, with roundabouts, a pedestrian has to check for traffic on each of the three approaching roads, as well as traffic on the roundabout, to see whether it's safe to cross.
Other issues are that some roundabouts are on blind corners, so you can have a second to run across when there's heavy traffic, because traffic isn't going to wait for you once it's moving on the roundabout.
Lastly, something that is probably more of a factor here due to the number of bad drivers who don't even know or understand the roundabout rules. A very large proportion of drivers don't know how to indicate properly or are just too lazy. Pedestrians have to stand opposite while they're turning and because they didn't indicate it looks like they're going ahead. Then the pedestrian who could have made it waits longer for other cars coming through. Alternatively, some drivers exit without indicating left and again the pedestrian runs a higher risk of getting run over.
As for increasing the flow, that's about where they're sited well. There was a large one that was replaced in the south of Sydney a few years back. It had one of the highest rates of crashes while it was a roundabout, and at peak times there were always long queues.
It was replaced by traffic lights and has worked much better since. (Not that I'm advocating for traffic lights everywhere! But again roundabouts are not any better at traffic management than anything else.)