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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : opinions : opinions July 03, 2015

12/30/2012 9:36:00 PM
Letter: Roundabouts are a dubious improvement


My first experience with roundabouts occurred several years ago when driving in New Jersey. Back then, they were known as traffic circles. Well, I went around in circles perhaps two or three times before I discovered the right exit. I was in the wrong lane (the inner one) and had to shift over to the outside one. Traffic was heavy. I believe that New Jersey had the highest density of people per square mile of all the states, at least back then. Once through this circle, I was prepared (somewhat) for the next one that I encountered. But, I was never really comfortable in doing so.

Now the roundabouts, as they are called out here, seem to be popping up all over the place. If one drives northward from the outer edge of Clarkdale, on 89A, toward Cottonwood and then Sedona, one approaches several of them. These seem to be relatively benign as traffic generally appears to be light in this vicinity. All right.

Fast forward to Prescott. The crown jewel of them all seems to be located in a surprise location, especially if one is motoring down Prescott Lakes Parkway at 50 mph toward Highway 89, going from 50 mph to 20 mph then accelerating back up to 50 mph once again to try and beat the light at the highway just a short distance away. A speed limit of 40 would seem to me to be more apropos The drive is a tad frightening to say the least.

If nothing else, the roundabouts (I prefer the term "traffic circle") do provide an instant driver awareness responsibility in a practical applications setting.

I don't remember actually doing a public voting for these things. Just asking.

David Lessard


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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, January 01, 2013
Article comment by: G Funk

Leave it to Americans to be confused by a circle.

Posted: Tuesday, January 01, 2013
Article comment by: @ Cory Saz

The idea is to "SAVE GAS" and "TIME" for you, me and everyother driver...not electricity! As far as I'm concerned they could put a roundabout at every intersection in the entire Tri-City area....I can't stand the 8 event traffic lights aimed at saving the idiots!

Just Mash on it!

Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012
Article comment by: Roundabout Tutorial

1) You must yield to the vehicle that may be coming around towards you on the left when you first enter the round-about
2) you are free to continue around after this
3) you must only yield when you first enter the round-about

Pretty simple, inexpensive to build, little to no maintenance, great at slowing down and regulating traffic.

Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012
Article comment by: Cory Saz

Whatever you want to call them, they are a pain. However one of the big reasons for them is to save energy on running a stoplight, but, for example the circles between Cottonwood and Clarkdale, are so ridiculously lit up with street lights we are not saving a nickel . Why not one pole with maybe 4 arms (lights) in the middle that would be a great plenty. Most vehicles on the roads today come with headlights, you don't need to light up the roads.

Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012
Article comment by: To: How

Every time I visit Clarkdale, and on every AZ map I've seen produced over the past century, I find that Cottonwood is not "northward" of Clarkdale.

YOU changed the term to "northbound."

Thus committing the logical fallacy popularly known as the Straw Man.

Thanks for playing!

(Parting contestants receive a visit to the ADOT website, and an opportunity to purchase either a copy of ARIZONA Highways or a DeLorme Atlas.)

Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012
Article comment by: 60 Grit

Like almost any vehicle "maneuver", a proper, safe speed is required. And an understanding of that pesky Yield sign. It means you stop unless it's clear to do something. Making a full stop when the traffic behind you could be going 50+, I imagine many drivers might not trust their fellow road users to come to a stop behind them. Proper warning and education are the key -- and our state could do a better job, I think.

Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012
Article comment by: To: How does one drive northward from Clarkdale

By driving in the north bound lane on 89A from Clarkdale to Cottonwood and then north on 89A to Sedona just as the writer writ. Duh!

Need anymore instructions on how to get from one place to another?

To: Prescott Local and pal.

Why do you even read the letters much less the paper?

Just to add your useless responses to the useless letter?

Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012
Article comment by: Hokas Pokas

What!? Chili without beans! You might as well use ground turkey and mushrooms.

Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012
Article comment by: GET REAL

@ David L:

Traffic Circles, Rotaries or Roundabouts (choose your designation) are very good devices for handling mid-range traffic densities. I have driven them from NJ to Australia and found them very effective.

As to having to slow down for them, they stand in place of either 4 (or more) -way stop signs, or a traffic light. You have to slow down for all of them, but with roundabouts driven properly and with anticipation, you don't ever have to stop.

When their capacity is exceeded, then massive interchanges must be built with overpasses and lots of acreage. That abortion at 69/89, if built with a larger diameter than the other local roundabouts, would have been cheaper, more effective and not have necessitated the elimination of going safely from 89 South to 69 East. The shoelace solution now in place for that turn, where you go through the same traffic light twice, is absurd.

Therefore David, open your mind, put your cellphone away, stop focusing on all those unneeded electronics on your dash, and drive safely and effectively 'round the circle.

Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012
Article comment by: Ryan Jensen

@ Sheesh Deluxe

Man, that is really funny. I tried it...you're right!

Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012
Article comment by: Yukon Jack

There IS a difference between a traffic circle and a round-a-bout. We have round-a-bouts. Traffic circles have larger islands than round-a-bouts. Round-a-bouts have smaller islands on purpose, and that is to SLOW the traffic down.

Either way, they became popular because the Federal government is encouraging them. And since the Feds throw money at the states, the states usually listen. IN THE RIGHT LOCATION, THEY'RE A PRETTY GOOD IDEA. They're cheaper to build and maintain than a signalized intersection. I'm not convinced however that a round-a-bout belongs in a 45 or 50MPH zone however. I believe that the traffic department is asking us to slow down too much, too quickly from those speeds to a round-a-bout. We need traffic circles for those locations.

Ultimately though, it's up to us drivers to follow the rules and if we don't know them, learn them. Too many of us choose not to adapt and it's those people who are causing the problems. The CIRCLE has the right of way. Don't pull out in front of a car that's already in the circle.

We've discussed these things ad nauseum. How about debating something meaningful, such as whether or not chili has beans? I say NO!

Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012
Article comment by: Alan Whitney

In a roundabout, everyone is supposed to yield to everybody else, but nobody does...

Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012
Article comment by: Sheesh Deluxe

This letter is more fun when you read it in a Grandpa Simpson voice.

Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012
Article comment by: prescott local

"Guns, Jesus, and Roundabouts. The Holy Trinity of page views."

That about sums up the letters we see here. I can't even recall the last time I saw a letter here worthy of serious discussion. Instead they all degrade into baseless claims and name-calling.

Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012
Article comment by: Fed Up

Roundabouts or whatever they are called in different areas were apparently brought into this area by a person or persons in A.D.O.T who believed that they were cheaper and reduced serious injury accidents. They work best when they are properly designed and when drivers respect others rights and Yield. They have a tendency to reduce serious injury because all of the traffic is moving in a similar direction eliminating T-bone or head-on collisions. The problem seems to be with the driving habits of everyone which is unlikely to change.

Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012
Article comment by: Tom Steele

David we never voted for round - A -bouts. It seems, ADOT in their inner circle decided these small circles would do what the large round-A-Bouts were doing in England and else where. Go to AZDOT web site and read about them. They are great!

Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012
Article comment by:

David: hand over the keys and surrender your license now!

Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012
Article comment by: White RINO

Maybe it's time to stop driving.

Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012
Article comment by: How does one drive northward from Clarkdale to Cottonwood?

David, do you remember voting on ANY kind of traffic device?

Did you forget that we have representative government, so outliers that don't know north from south impact the rest of us too much?

Maybe you'd prefer a nice, juicy T-Bone?

Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012
Article comment by: Dale E. Khouryear

Why do I get the feeling that this newspaper pays people to write weekly letters on this most exhilerating topic that I enjoy so much?

Guns, Jesus, and Roundabouts. The Holy Trinity of page views.

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