If you bike on Chena Pump Road in Fairbanks, please be aware that the Alaska Department of Transportation is planning to build a roundabout at the intersection of Chena Pump Road, Chena Small Tracts Road, and Old Chena Ridge Road.
The DOT will be holding public open house about the project on Tuesday, November 7, at Woodriver Elementary School. Stop by any time between 4:30 and 7 p.m. to speak with project staff, ask questions, and submit comments.
If you plan to ask questions or comment from a cyclist perspective below is a study and some articles about the safety and efficacy of roundabouts with regard to cyclists. Thanks to Anchorage cycling advocate Merwyn Ambrose for these.
Merwyn encourages advocates to ask DOT staff to identify the research their design is based upon and the critical design criteria they have identified to make roundabouts safe for non-motorists. He also suggests asking DOT for their own research and how they address the results of that research.
Find out more about the DOT project HERE.
See conclusions from the study at bottom of this post. Also seem some informative comments from a Facebook post about the Chena Pump Roundabout, which may inform your comments.
Boscarino, Timothy. “Roundabouts: Mixed Results for Pedestrian and Cyclist Safety | Smart Cities Dive.” SmartCitiesDive.
Singer, Andy. “Are Roundabouts Safer for Pedestrians?” Streets.Mn (blog), November 17, 2017.
BICYCLE DUTCH. “Explaining the Dutch Roundabout Abroad,” October 12, 2015.
BICYCLE DUTCH. “A Modern Amsterdam Roundabout,” May 8, 2013.
Ganado, Phillip Leone. “Cyclists Slam ‘unsafe, Substandard’ Tal-Balal Bike Lanes.” Times of Malta, July 14, 2019.
Conclusions of the study
The conclusions of the research reported in this paper are indicative and can be summarized as follows. (And please remember that this is just one study. However, it is a study, as opposed to gut feelings, and so its findings are presumably more reliable.)
- Conversions of intersections to roundabouts result in fewer and less severe accidents and injuries, particularly at sites with high speed limits.
- Central island diameters of 20–40 m at single-lane roundabouts seem safer for cyclists compared to single-lane roundabouts with smaller or larger central islands. The medium sized diameter is safer for all road users possibly due to the impacts such diameter and deflection have on entry and circulating speeds.
- A single-lane roundabout with a high central island, which middle is elevated 2 m or more above the circulating lane, is safer for cyclists than comparable single-lane roundabouts with lower central islands. A high central island may lower entry speeds and improve entering drivers’ orientation towards circulating road users as there is much fewer accidents between entering and circulating vehicles, especially circulating cyclists.
- Single-lane roundabouts with separate cycle paths, where cyclists must yield to motorists entering or exiting the roundabout are safer than single-lane roundabouts with cycle lanes. Cycle lanes are the least safe type of bicycle facility at single-lane roundabouts.
- Single-lane roundabouts seem to be safer for cyclists compared to intersections, if the roundabout has a high central island and/or has a separate cycle path. If the single-lane roundabout has a low central island and no separate cycle path, then the roundabout is seldom safer for cyclists than an intersection.”
Comments from Facebook post about the Chena Pump Roundabout plan.
From Gabe King
The one they did on the steese and CHSR intersection is insane- a death trap for cyclists. And all they did was put “bikes may use full lane” signs up. Meanwhile, you are spat out into traffic that is going 55+
From Dan Johnson
Gabe King, I go through that one regularly. I personally haven’t had any issues or concerns going west. I just take the lane and have never had cars be a problem.
Going east, yes it is not good, very dangerous. To me it’s because the emerging roundabout lane going east runs parallel to the lane with merging traffic from the northbound Steese. To get over to the east bound shoulder you have to cross that lane which has cars accelerating to highway speed. You have to look back at almost 180 degrees to see that traffic and also contend with the traffic coming out of the roundabout overtaking you and/or possibly turning left right there where you are trying to figure out how to get over to the shoulder.
That specific huge flaw is not very common in other roundabouts (uaf for instance), and it doesn’t look to be the same flaw in the proposed roundabout? On the other hand, Chena Pump drivers, in my personal experience, are some of the rudest to cyclists.