Pedestrian Safety: Another Go-Round on the Roundabouts
The Woodbury City Council held a detailed discussion Wednesday about the Woodbury Drive expansion project, mostly regarding the planned roundabouts.
It will be easier for pedestrians and cyclists to cross Woodbury Drive after Washington County builds two roundabouts as part of the coming roadway expansion project.
That was the message county transportation officials delivered to the Woodbury City Council on Wednesday during a discussion of the project, which will expand the road from two lanes to four from Park Crossing south to Saint Ambrose.
“Hybrid” roundabouts are planned along Woodbury Drive at Bailey and Lake roads. Pedestrian safety at the roundabouts was the focus of Wednesday night’s council workshop.
The roundabouts will be designed to reduce the fender-benders often seen at the Radio-Bailey roundabout, and provide fewer impact points for bikers and pedestrians than a typical intersection, said Joe Gustafson, a county transportation engineer. (See the PDF with this story for specifics.)
The highlight of the presentation was footage from a “noggin-cam.” (See the youtube video above.) County officials visited a roundabout in Savage and one wore a camera on his head to record how crossing such intersections works.
Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens said she too had traversed the roundabout and cautioned that landscaping at the ones planned for Woodbury should ensure good sightlines for drivers and pedestrians.
Part of the issue is simply education—both for drivers and walkers, Stephens said.
Councilman Paul Rebholz renewed his suggestion for signs that alert drivers to the fact that pedestrians have the right of way when they’re in a crosswalk.
He also noted the signs along the road through downtown Hudson, Wis.
Motorists in roundabouts are generally more worried about other vehicles instead of pedestrians, Rebholz added.
Gustafson, the county transportation engineer, said pedestrian-activated flashing signs could create situations in which one driver stops but another doesn’t. County officials would rather see people wait for gaps in the traffic rather than trusting drivers to stop, he said.
Also, signs like those in Hudson would often be knocked over by large vehicles, Gustafson said.
Al Rudnickas, who lives in the project area, said part of the problem lies with the fact that Woodbury has so many different types of roundabouts and drivers can easily get confused. If the design used for the Woodbury Drive project proves successful, he suggested retrofitting existing roundabouts to match the new ones.
County officials recently put out stakes delineating where the project will impact nearby homes. Public Works Director David Jessup said the stakes have information written on them that says what they are marking—work staging areas, where retaining walls will be built, etc.
The city will likely push back its decision on granting project approval to June, City Engineer Klayton Eclkes said.
The nearly $10 million project is slated to begin in the spring of 2013.
More Coverage of the Project