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Letters to the Editors
Roundabouts' problems can be smoothed out
© St. Petersburg Times, published August 1, 2000
Editor's note: Today's letters are from readers who have suggestions about the roundabout, or traffic circle, with a large fountain in the middle that now greets visitors to Clearwater Beach.
I've only lived and worked at Clearwater Beach since 1983, so I must rely on old newspaper articles and editorials about how bad traffic jams were before then, but I know what it has been like since 1983, and I know that more cars are getting to the beach faster with the roundabout than was the case previously.
And I know that I get where I'm going faster than I did before the roundabout. In terms of movement, it delivers as promised.
The trade-off, unfortunately, has been a startling number of fender benders, and without question that situation must be adressed.
Since we cannot do anything about the small but frightening group of drivers who seem to believe that the world does in fact revolve around them and that they must therefore have the right of way onto, within and out of the roundabout, we must do something about the design and operation of the roundabout itself.
I think it is safe to say that many if not most of the accidents occur when someone exits from the inside (left) lane and either hits or is hit by someone going round in the outside (right) lane.
I have yet to locate a single other place in Clearwater (or anywhere for that matter) where it is accepted practice to turn across traffic without an approving sign or light, but this is supposed to work on the roundabout? I don't think so.
Either the right lane must turn right, or the inside lane must merge right before an exit, or we will continue to have a high accident rate. It just doesn't seem that complicated.
By the way, the expert's report recently referenced by the media concluded that "the roundabout was the only alternative that came close to meeting all the aims and objectives of the project," that "it was selected as it offered environmental, capacity, safety and pedestrian advantages over the other alternatives," that "although the roundabout has had problems since it opened, these are problems of detail that can be corrected," and that "they (the problems) in no way detract from the sound strategic choice to build a roundabout."
I don't remember seeing this in the newspapers or hearing it from the electronic media, but then these conclusions don't fit the media story line, do they?
Hoping the fountain hits a permanent drought
As the Clearwater City Commission struggles to find ways to make this monstrosity (the Clearwater Beach roundabout) safe for the public and reasonably functional, I hope they seriously consider eliminating the BSF (Big Stupid Fountain) in the middle.
I'm really tired of having my freshly washed cars and motorcycles trashed by wind spraying fountain water on me.
I'm also convinced that this spray causes a safety problem by suddenly obscuring driver vision on occasion.
How on God's green earth can they justify spending taxpayer dollars at the rate of $238,000 per year to maintain this thing?
Do us all a favor and get rid of the fountain.
Take down the center wall that blocks a drivers' views
Re: Poorly designed roundabout must go, eventually, July 27 letter.
If you start with an ill-conceived design and mix in the uninitiated, an uncertainty factor and volume, you have a recipe for disaster. Letter writer I.R. Slonaker of Dunedin is right in urging the elimination of the stone wall center in the Clearwater Beach roundabout. Give us the ability to at least see what is facing us.
Given the designer's original mess, it can be a relatively low-cost solution to one element of the problem.
Crossing from an inside to an outside exit lane doesn't work
Consider this: You're on a four-lane, divided street, traveling in the inside (left) lane, and you make a right turn from that left lane. What would happen? You'd cause an accident and be ticketed.
Why, then, do the powers-that-be want us to exit the roundabout from the inside lane, crossing over the right (outside) lane? It makes absolutely no sense.
If we had one, wide lane around the entire mess, plus an outside lane to be used for exit or entrance only, it would be much safer.
I teach AARP's 55 Alive classes and my students advised me to get on the roundabout and stay in the outside lane. The inside lane is only for someone who wants to create an accident. I took their advice, and it works beautifully.
Changing the rotary should reduce switching lanes
Historically, the successful use of a rotary has been limited to those sites with large available areas. A good rotary must provide adequate sightlines and not restrict traffic from changing lanes.
The available area of the Clearwater Beach roundabout must be better and fully utilized. The roadway should be relocated as far as possible from the structure around the perimeter of the available area and should be basically a single lane with long ingress and egress lanes to permit safe merging and diverging. Access points to and from the rotary should be limited .
This configuration will eliminate most dangerous blind spots for drivers by drastically reducing lane changes.
Maybe it's not the design but the heavy feet of drivers
The Clearwater Beach turnabout is great. All you have to do is slow down to 15 mph and it is an enjoyable drive.
And the Park Boulevard Bridge is also great if you slow down to 25 mph for the curve instead of taking it at 50 mph or 60 mph as most people do.
People must learn to slow down for curves. They must learn to put down their cell phones, slow down and be prepared to stop.
Maybe we should have looked closely at rural roundabouts
As I understand the purpose of a roundabout, it is used in rural areas to keep the flow of traffic moving. It eliminates the purpose of a stop sign at a crossroads intersection with little traffic.
As traffic increases, a stoplight would be needed.
Somebody goofed. Clearwater residents had better keep their eyes open for bridge salesmen.
19 signs distract a driver's eyes from focusing on the road
Trying to manage the roundabout when you know where you are going is difficult. If you don't know the route, it is impossible.
So, the creators of Roundabout Roulette have come to the rescue in the form of signs, signs and more signs. From the entrance to the roundabout to the exit at Coronado, I counted 19 signs.
For the most part these signs listed names of the streets on Clearwater Beach. Even if that was a good idea, the printing on those signs is too small to read even at 10 mph.
Solution: Tampa Airport directs its passengers with just two basic signs. One points the way to the red terminals with a BIG red sign listing all the "red"' airlines.
The other sign does the same for the "blue" airlines.
Clearwater Beach's BIG red sign could list all the streets on South Beach and its BIG blue sign could list the streets on North Beach, thus two signs doing the job of 19 and allowing drivers to look at something else . . . like other drivers.
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