Travelling Two, a bicycle touring blog had an interesting posting on a what they are describing as the world’s only suspend bicycle roundabout. From what I can gather the roundabout is suspended above the Heerbaan and consists of a circular bridge that hangs from a 70 metre pylon and is supported by 24 guy-wires. Cyclists access the roundabout via four ramps.
I suggest that this is a very cyclist safety focused approach to an issue. Given that roundabouts are often the bane of cyclists this is but one option that could be considered in some circumstances. Here is but one example from West Coast Drive as to why I am not a fan of roundabouts.
Of course such an approach as this suspended roundabout is not something we can expect at every roundabout, but it again shows that with some thought and commitment good quality infrastructure can be put in place to to protect vulnerable road users, i.e., cyclists and pedestrians and that such infrastcutrue can encourage the take up of cycling as an alternative means of transport.
Roundabouts are a concern; they are an issue for motorists, they are dangerous for cylists and they are dangerous for pedestrians. For sure they may be good means of managing traffic flow but at what cost long term? I suggest we need to think not just about the immediate cost of contrusction but the long term costs of injury and loss both to the families but also to society.
Cummings (2011) reminds us that
Roundabouts experience fewer and less severe vehicle crashes than typical intersections. Yet this safety benefit does not extend to bicycles. The reasons for this are analysed through a literature review and a case study of roundabout crashes occurring in Victoria from 2005-2009. The most common type of roundabout crash is entering circulating vehicle conflicts (82% for roundabout crashes involving bicycles). Speed and visibility of circulating vehicles are the major contributing factors particularly as bicycles are often located where drivers do not look. Austroads promotes the use of circulating bicycle lanes. However, this analysis explains why such designs may increase risks to cyclists. Many researchers have found that riding on the outside edge of circulating carriageways is dangerous for cyclists. Little has been written about why. Many cyclists ride close to the kerb, with cars beside them “sharing” the lane, effectively allowing two traffic streams within one lane. At a 1-lane roundabout, this creates an environment with 24 conflict points, but approaching drivers expect just 4. Drivers check the inner path for a gap, ignoring the unexpected outer path and sometimes striking a cyclist they never saw. Cyclists are safest if they merge with cars before a roundabout then ride in the middle of the driving lane. This maximises their visibility to cars, maintains a simple one-lane conflict point environment, and reduces the likely speed of impact if a collision does occur. Treatments are proposed which slow approaching, entering and circulating vehicles and facilitate central lane positioning by cyclists for maximum visibility.
Your Turn To Talk
I hope you liked this post! Please do stop by the comment section below and share your thoughts on this piece of cycling infrastructure and/or cyclists and roundabouts.
* The image used in this post has been sourced from The Atlantic Cities blog