Finally, positive words about roundabouts


April 29, 2003|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

FINALLY, SOMEONE has something good to say about roundabouts.

"I say this to your readers [who complained about roundabouts in last week's] column. What's wrong with roundabouts?" asked Tim Corrigan. "Would they rather spend a lifetime waiting around for traffic lights that would be installed in these intersections, or would they rather spend the short period of time actually learning something they should have learned before getting their driver's license in the first place. Dealing with roundabouts is not rocket science! You enter when it's clear, and exit when you are at your exit."

Mr. Corrigan said he grew up in a small town where the main city center was a huge traffic circle. "I learned how to drive on it and had to go through it to get my license. Maybe what they need to do around here is to include roundabouts in the in-car drivers tests before people get their licenses," he said.

Thomas Grimes is another member of the roundabout fan club. "I personally feel that roundabouts are an excellent way to expedite traffic flow. But they must be large enough to handle a large flow of traffic," he said. "In the morning, the traffic at Sheppard's Lane and Folly Quarters Road is very heavy, and this would warrant a larger roundabout then what presently is in use in Lisbon and Glenelg. A properly constructed roundabout and given time for education of the drivers will help resolve the traffic problem in this area. Roundabouts are used all around the world with excellent success."

Valerie Burnette Edgar, the State Highway Administration communications director, reminded me after last week's column that SHA offers information about roundabouts at its Web site, www.Maryland Search for roundabouts and go to No. 4 - How To Use a Roundabout.

Burnette Edgar also responded to a reader's concern in last week's column about lights in Clarksville on Route 108. She said SHA will check the signing and signal complaint and may make changes if they are warranted.

"We know that our customers on the road can give us good information and feedback to enhance their safety and the communication on the road via signs," she said. She urges everyone to contact SHA directly, at 800-323-6742, with concerns.

"Often, traffic complaints will require follow-up as to what the customer means or needs. Sometimes, we are not able to change something reported, but we are absolutely willing to review and make improvements whenever we can," she said.

Sharing sidewalks?

Two weeks ago, I urged parents to consider their children's bike-riding habits more carefully and said that children probably should not be riding on the roads. That comment generated quite a few responses.

Tracey Savage related a recent incident she experienced while riding on the sidewalk with three of her children. "There were people in front of us with four small dogs who saw us coming," she said. "When we went around them on the grass, they said we'd scared them. Then the lady [cursed] me. "Is it legal to ride on the sidewalk?"

Short answer: Yes. According to Howard County police, Maryland Motor Vehicle Law and the Howard County Code allow for bicycles to be ridden on sidewalks, bike paths and along the roadway.

That said, some courtesy rules do apply, although these are not on the law books. Bicyclists, please be sensitive that people may not hear you coming. Get a bell or horn on your bicycles if they're not outfitted with them, or call ahead, "bicycles to your left." Because yours is the larger vehicle on the sidewalks, yours is the larger responsibility.

Walkers, watch your language. There is no need to be rude, especially in front of children. And be prepared to share the sidewalks and move to the side when bikes approach, especially if the riders are children.

Parents, teach your children to slow down as they pass people on the sidewalk, and to call out, ring their bells or honk horns in advance of approaching someone on the sidewalk.

What's your traffic trauma? Contact Jody K. Vilschick at or send faxes to 410-715-2816. Technophobes can mail letters to Traffic Talk, The Sun in Howard County, 5570 Sterrett Place, Suite 300, Columbia 21044.

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