U-City’s Delmar Roundabout in 24 Seconds

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We’ve covered roundabouts here before (we’re fans). Mythbusters showed us that roundabouts are more efficient moving traffic, and there are plenty of videos available showing how to navigate this new-fangled (for the U.S.) roadway. We know they’re safer than regular perpendicular crossing intersections as well, reducing the possible collision points for vehicles and pedestrians by more than 70% (from 56 to 16).

We get it though, some people still swear they’re dangerous and confusing. So here’s our latest brave attempt to demonstrate just how easy it is to traverse a roundabout. In University City, the western entrance to The Loop commercial district has been reduced from four lanes to two, and a roundabout added near the terminus of the under construction vintage streetcar.

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  • jhoff1257

    Where are the streetcar rails? I was under the impression that the tracks were supposed to enter the roundabout? I see lots of fresh pavement but no tracks anywhere.

    • Alex Ihnen

      The tracks no longer go around the roundabout, but instead stop in front of the public library. The streetcar will come to a stop, reverse direction, cross over Delmar, and continue east.

  • Bryan Castille

    The problem with roundabouts is that St. Louis motorists have no clue what ‘Yield’ means.

    An example:

    The roundabout at the Hampton entrance to Forest Park is extremely dangerous if you plan to exit east toward the Jewel Box. To the right of the roundabout, there’s a second, outer lane coming off Hampton that converges with the lane emptying out of the roundabout, but only the outside lane has a yield sign. This is problematic for a number of reasons:

    a) motorists in the outer lane are exiting off Hampton at very high speeds,

    b) they do not yield,

    and c) they honk at you, the driver with the right-of-way, as if you’re the one who ought to be yielding. It is extremely hard to exit the roundabout and keep watch on this outer lane for potential cars—cars you know from experience are not going to yield. The view is slightly obstructed, and no matter how cautious you are someone will come flying down that lane out of nowhere, especially during busy hours. Similarly, when I’m in that outer lane, I get honked at for yielding to cars coming off the roundabout. People think they have the right-of-way in that outer lane. They also seem to think ‘Yield’ means “This Sign is Merely a Formality.”

    • Bryan Castille

      But I also think motorists do not understand yield signs because they so rarely encounter them. (And because they’re not required to take Driver’s Ed.)

    • JZ71
    • JZ71

      This was a tough design problem, to begin with, with too many decision points in too short a distance. To address your specific concern, making/keeping Wells two lanes eastbound, for a longer distance, instead of forcing a merge where it occurs now, would likely solve most of the conflict, but at the expense of “needed” on-street parking.

      • Bryan Castille

        Oh yes. That needed on-street parking. I fantasize about a vehicle-free Forest Park. That is, a park instead of a parking lot.

  • JZ71

    I’ve wondered, for years, why the traffic circle at Halls Ferry and Riverview isn’t properly signed or striped, to function as a modern traffic circle? This is what more than a few people “know”, so it’s not surpising that they’re not “on board” for any new ones.

  • Michael B

    Roundabouts are also great for cyclists! It forces cars to slow down and while someone can neglect to yield at a roundabout, a car can’t run through it like it can a stop sign; it must slow down.

    The roundabout at the off ramp at 40 and Tower Grove is a key part of my commute whether I’m walking, biking or driving. I wish more were utilized as offramps to keep the traffic moving.

    • Chicagoan

      Slow down? I’ll do no such thing in my Ford Explorer! /slams foot on accelerator

    • kjohnson04

      It’s works great until somebody fails to figure out the basic premise of a roundabout; yielding. We cyclists and pedestrians get it. Convincing drivers here to do will be a learning curve.

      • Alex Ihnen

        Not untrue…but I think you can replace “roundabout” with traffic light and say the same. Car wrecks big and small happen at four-way stops and signaled intersections across St. Louis everyday. I guess we’re used to it because I don’t hear people say, “St. Louis drivers just don’t understand traffic lights!”

      • JZ71

        Akey part of yielding is seeing, and too many drivers don’t just “see” very much, especially bikes and peds . . .

  • stef

    Look kids – Big Ben! Parliament! Seriously though – most of my roundabout experience comes from using them in the UK… Which means they’re “backwards” here. 🙂

    • Alex Ihnen

      My first experience with roundabouts was in Adelaide, Australia on my bike. It took a few weeks to feel ok riding them backwards, but I loved riding through town without stop signs and crossing the paths of cars.

      • Chicagoan

        So, it seems that if we only would’ve stayed a part of the Crown, we’d have more roundabouts!

        But in all seriousness, I like them a lot as well. I encountered them often in Spain and they make things so much more simple.

  • kjohnson04

    Sometimes I sincerely wonder if we have the world’s most stupid drivers here in St. Louis. If you can’t manage a roundabout, you shouldn’t be driving. The elegance is in there simplicity. But it does involve a little yielding; maybe that’s what’s flummoxing drivers here. Waiting..for..someone else.

    That said, roundabouts are awesome.

    • jhoff1257

      I think it’s just people in general, nobody anywhere pays attention to anything anymore. St. Louis does have bad drivers, but I think they’re bad because they’re very aggressive. For stupidity you can look to Kansas people. I’d rather have aggressive drivers then dumb drivers.

      I also just drove back to KC tonight after 5 days in Minneapolis. Amazing city but nobody can operate a car there either. I saw two accidents in the same freeway interchange in St. Paul this morning. Though in their defense their highways are atrocious up there.

  • BudSTL

    I think that “no one knows how to handle this” has become a trope. The truth is, most people can handle being in a roundabout…and the more common they are…

  • RyleyinSTL

    I love these as they really do work well….but I’ve yet to see a single Missourian use one correctly (particularly if there are 2 lanes).

    Signal in, signal out! How freaking hard is that?!

  • Should have gone 360° around the roundabout.

    • John R

      And around, And around, And around, And around,

  • Presbyterian

    Alex, I do hope your corporate liability policy was paid up before you sent that intern into harm’s way!

    • John R

      I just assumed before watching the video that he strapped a go pro on his kid’s bike but I guess not!

  • Adam

    very nice. i do hope it gets some decorative treatment, though. a statue or a sculpture or some vegetation (that doesn’t hinder lines of sight, of course)…

    • Imran

      I saw a circular hedge of boxwood with?knockout roses in the middle and monkey grass on the outside.

      • Adam

        i’m too impatient to wait for things to grow! 😉

  • Michael C

    Roundabouts are awesome!