News Release — Tony Redington
December 17, 2015
Burlington, VT– Five downtown and town center Vermont roundabouts totaling 52 years operation attained a remarkable pedestrian safety performance recording only one minor pedestrian injury.
With two of the earliest downtown and town center roundabouts with considerable pedestrian activity in the U.S., Vermont becomes the first to tabulate actual pedestrian accident numbers. Additionally car occupant injuries, all minor, totaled four and no bicycle injury occurred.
Burlington transportation researcher and policy analyst Tony Redington who obtained the data from accident reports and information provided by police sources said “the actual downtown and town center single lane roundabout safety numbers surprise even the most dedicated roundabout advocates.” Overall the five Vermont downtown roundabouts each average the quivalent of about a half pedestrian injury per century. “The Vermont safety performance clearly changes from now on the way traffic engineers and those interested in pedestrian safety address urban intersections with significant pedestrian volumes,” Redington added.
The two early roundabouts built—one in Montpelier (Keck Circle Roundabout 1995, 19th in the U.S.) and Manchester Center (Grand Union Roundabout 1997)–were joined by Middlebury’s Main Street Roundabout, 2011, and two more Manchester Center roundabouts in 2012. Not a single injury of any kind was recorded through late 2015 at the three most recent roundabouts.
Redington points to the rapid U.S. descent from 1st to 19th in highway safety along with the push for healthy transportation—walking and bicycling—as factors demanding sizable and rapid roundabout investments in face of the proven safety benefit on Vermont’s own urban streets. Redington noted New York State Department of Transportation “roundabouts first” policy dates from 2005 and other states and Canadian provincial transportation departments now follow similar roundabout policies. In the United States and Canada through 2014 not a single fatality occurred at the estimated 3,500 roundabouts built since 1990.
This roundabout record can be compared data from the current Burlington walk bike master plan process. All told 17 Burlington intersections, termed by Redington the “dirty 17”, with 61 pedestrian injuries including a fatal during the four year period 2011-2014 averaged one pedestrian injury per intersection per year. Of the 17 intersections, 13 were signalized and the others sign controlled. U.S. research shows roundabouts overall cut serious and fatal injuries by about 90%, but up to now only European research indicates a similar level of injury reduction levels for pedestrians and bicyclists in single lane roundabouts.
The downtown Vermont roundabouts together handle hundreds of pedestrian crossings daily. Keck Circle is located one block from Montpelier Main Street Middle School, the new Middlebury Municipal Building is located on its town center roundabout, and all three of the Manchester Center roundabouts on Main Street serve a sizable local and tourist season pedestrians on the street promoted as “the fifth avenue of the mountains.”
The first modern roundabouts in the U.S. were built in 1990. The three Manchester Center roundabouts on Main Street add to the about 60 other U.S. corridors of three or more roundabouts.
None of the five car occupants injuries were serious–bumps and bruises for two car occupants in a single car crash into a central island which deployed air bags, and two others involving two vehicles crashes within the circular travelway with a driver complaining of a sore neck and declining medical treatment.