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Williams: Multi-lane Roundabout At Central–N.M. 502 More Accident Prone Than If Signalized

on April 12, 2016 - 7:21pm
Courtesy image
Los Alamos

George Jennings, Jr's letter on "Arts In Public Places" For New Roundabout  here gives me an opportunity to make some comments and to offer an "ART" suggestion.

Mr. Jennings' letter sounded like perfect satire with his bow for commuters (disingenuous, since commuters were the last consideration on the Council's agenda) and a call for a humongous rocket/bomb display. I seem to remember that the council has made a great fuss about de-emphasizing the bomb business in an effort to promote our great outdoors and science that benefits everyone - "Where discoveries are made" instead of "Welcome to Bomb City".

Now, to reality. A roundabout in an urban environment, which the one at Central–N.M. 502 certainly is, is not the same as one in a rural or suburban area. Citing info that roundabouts are safer than 4-way-stop intersections is not relevant to the Central–N.M. 502 intersection. The proper question is how does a roundabout compare with  a signalized intersection. We and others can cite national data, but why do that when we have our very own roundabout to provide us with information?

Below is a tabulation of the data that the Los Alamos Police has on file for six intersections: four signaled, one stop-sign-at-a-T, and the county's very own roundabout. This data was shown by Bill Mead to the council last Tuesday night. Over the past 10 years, the roundabout at San Ildefonso has had the highest number of accidents, with less traffic than any of the "conventional" Trinity intersections. Similar data compiled for 2008-2009 shows more injury accidents at the San Ildefonso roundabout than at the heavily-traveled (vehicle and pedestrian) intersection of Diamond Drive at Trinity.

A multi-lane roundabout, like the one proposed for Central–N.M. 502 would be even more accident prone (per national data) than the single lane one at San Ildefonso, since it contains embedded lane changes, operating with heavier traffic at higher speeds. Who would want to replace an intersection, such as the current one at Central-Trinity/N.M. 502 with a roundabout that would behave worse than the one at San Ildefonso? Makes you wonder about what the councilors have been fed about the safety of a roundabout in Los Alamos that led to their "requesting" that NMDOT install a roundabout at the Central–N.M. 502 intersection and restating that desire, when the NMDOT highway folks (whose job it is to do highway planning) preferred a signalized one.