Letter: Roundabout's location in Catonsville presents unique problems for traffic flow

Letter to the editor

January 06, 2012

Related to the reply to my letter ("Yield to left at roundabout and to right at four-way stop," Catonsville Times, Jan. 4), I did not realize that drivers do not need to be courteous when using traffic circles.

That writer's self-centered mentality would keep us "poor saps" stranded at one of other entrances to the circle when there is an unbroken queue of vehicles in one direction.

This "poor sap," having learned the written rules for drivers approaching an intersection (with no stop signs or all direction stop signs) at the same time, allows the driver on the right to proceed first.

Until such time as a written rule indicating otherwise prevails for circles, I will continue to follow this rule.

Any sane driver would obey the sign to yield to drivers already in the circle. This is not the issue.

Obviously, there are numerous scenarios of vehicular movement about the circle.

Say that vehicles approach a circle at the same time, in three directions, with no vehicles in the circle. This means that one driver has no one on his right. Does it make any sense to let drivers on the left proceed first? Not that I can see.

Not all circles are the same. Some are large and may have multiple lanes, where drivers can enter and merge easily from all directions; some may allow two lanes of traffic with signs directing the traffic flow inward or outward.

But the circle at Edmondson Avenue and Old Frederick Road is Baltimore County's alternative to a light-controlled intersection in a limited space. The problem is that access to the circle is not equal in all directions.

One simply has look at the layout or view a freely available aerial photo (Google map) to see that traffic traveling on Edmondson has to enter the circle at much less of an angle than from Old Frederick.

Therefore, traffic entering the circle on Edmondson does do so at higher speeds often without even slowing down.

As a result of this higher speed, there is less of a tendency for following vehicles to slow down, which effectively shuts down the flow on Old Frederick.

Furthermore, everyone knows the long stretch from Rolling Road to Old Frederick is a speedway, which adds to the hazardous nature of this intersection, both for other drivers as well as pedestrians.

Unless this inequality to access is countered, perhaps by the installation of traffic calming humps on Edmondson, there will continue to be problems for us "poor saps," who travel frequently on Old Frederick.

Traffic calming on Edmondson, prior to the circle, ought to further improve safety for pedestrians and bikers because this circle is near two schools.

The issues concerning this circle are basically the county's fault for failing to do the homework regarding traffic flow, design of the intersection, its residential location and proximity to schools.

Michael Ernest Sr.


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