Resistance to Roundabouts

Traffic CircleChange is good, that is unless the town wants to upgrade a busy T intersection with a roundabout rather than installing traffic lights. This is the situation in Qualicum Beach where the town has announced that it intends to rebuild the intersection of highway 19A (Island Highway West) and highway 4 (Memorial Avenue) using a roundabout. This is something that the Qualicum Beach Residents Association (QBRA) opposes.

The collision picture here is a quiet one, relatively speaking. ICBC says that between 2011 and 2015 there were 19 crashes at the intersection and only 3 of them included injuries. Updated statistics for 2015 to 2019 show 31 crashes, 9 of which produced casualties.

There is mention by both the town and the QBRA of a pedestrian fatality close by in the recent past but there is no indication of how close or if the fatality was related to the intersection itself.

The QBRA wants traffic lights installed at this intersection instead of a roundabout and wrote to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to register opposition to this portion of the project.

The number of signatures on the petition amounted to about 10% of the town's population, but there was no indication of whether the petition was limited to residents of the town or not.

Will the desires of the QBRA prevail?

The current design guide used by the province indicates on page 139 that:

Roundabouts shall be considered as the first option for intersection designs where 4-way stop control or traffic signals are supported by traffic analysis. If an intersection treatment other than a roundabout is recommended, the project documentation should include a reason why a roundabout solution was not selected for that location. This roundabouts “first” policy supports the province’s Climate Action Program of 2007.

Why are roundabouts considered to be the best option? They have a high potential for safety:

  • Lower speeds - Situation changes slowly
  • Very forgiving environment
  • More time to make the right response
  • Judging gaps is easy and mistakes are not lethal
  • NO demand to accurately judge closing speeds of fast traffic
  • Low energy crashes: low closing speeds, low angle, low impact
  • No wide visual scans needed • Reduced need to look over one’s shoulder
  • Uncomplicated situations; simple decision- making

The most commonly raised concerns involve pedestrians and cyclists.

Of the two, the pedestrian receives more benefits. They now only have to cross one lane at a time with a refuge in the splitter island half way across. Marked crosswalks are set away from the circle. This means that pedestrians are not crossing directly in front of drivers busy looking for a gap in traffic.

Cyclists trade a slightly increased collision rate for conditions that make those collisions much less likely to result in significant injury or death.

To summarize, roundabouts have been shown to reduce total crashes by 39%. serious crashes by 76% and fatal or incapacitating injuries by 89% when compared to intersections with stop signs or traffic lights.

Does this sound like something we should oppose?

As an aside, the town's web site mentions the yellow flashing pedestrian signals currently installed in the intersection.

The claim is made that the RCMP does not consider this to be a traffic control device.

"traffic control device" means a sign, signal, line, meter, marking, space, barrier or device, not inconsistent with this Part, placed or erected by authority of the minister responsible for the administration of the Transportation Act, the council of a municipality or the governing body of a treaty first nation or a person authorized by any of them to exercise that authority;

"traffic control signal" means a traffic control device, whether manually, electrically or mechanically operated, by which traffic is directed to stop and to proceed.

Flashing lights

131 (3) When rapid intermittent flashes of yellow light are exhibited at an intersection by a traffic control signal, the driver of a vehicle facing the flashes of yellow light may cause it to enter the intersection and proceed only with caution, but must yield the right of way to pedestrians lawfully in the intersection or an adjacent crosswalk,

This is not correct and drivers are required to yield to pedestrians in this situation.


Safety hypocrisy

Le sigh....

"Cyclists trade a slightly increased collision rate for conditions that make those collisions much less likely to result in significant injury or death."

And yet motorcyclists are unreasonable for wanting to place ourselves between rows of cars instead of between crumple zones in bumper to bumper traffic, aside from all the other benefits. It must be painful having to twist themselves (MoT) into such logical inconsistencies...

Absurd leap of logic!

FYI, statistical correlations between intersection collisions involving cyclists and impatient motorcycle riders demanding the right to squeeze past other motorists when traffic gets backed up have absolutely nothing to do with each other.


Roundabouts Rock!

Having been a frequent visitor to the Parksville/Qualicum area over the years, I had thought before now that a Roundabout would be ideal for that intersection.

As for the claim that the RCMP don't consider flashing yellow lights to be a traffic control device, the boys (and girls) in blue should realize that interactive pedestrian controls like this are far more efficient - and safer - than those stupid flashing green lights that we see being used around this province.

Submitted by E-Mail

I live in Eaglecrest and have traveled the intersection that is about to receive the roundabout over the intersection at Village Way and the highway 19A. The proposed T intersection is the quietist intersection in all of Q.B. and not a traffic problem.

I don't live there, but this statement is absurd.

The proposed T intersection is the quietist intersection in all of Q.B. and not a traffic problem.

How ridiculous, to claim that the major intersection between the town of Qualicum Beach and the old coast road (19A) is the 'quietest'. 

Meanwhile, traffic 'problems' not only include crash rates, but traffic flow, and the majority of that is on the main highway, despite the creation of the major Hwy 19 route some years back.

And it's a particular problem during tourist season when demand for movement is potentially in conflict with control devices.

A Roundabout there would help alleviate the situation, without affecting the Eaglecrest Golfers, enjoying the quietude of their cul-de-sacs.

Roundabouts are Awesome

The only resistance seems to come from those that do not, and perhaps unwillingly, execute the correct procedure.  I did a lot of “homework” to understand the process, watched various YouTube examples, attending the local districts seminars and finally got the simplist instruction that made perfect sense...... just WAIT for BOTH lanes to be clear before you enter!  Of course I prefer single lane crop-circles because that’s the easiest execution.  Just the 89% reduction in fatalities/grevious harm is phenomenal.  I would encourage all those intersections that are risky to be crop-circles, it could be your family who is spared a horrid death or grevious bodily harm.  I always think of Humboldt and the greater odds of  less harm and death (if at all) had that intersection been a crop circle.... an extra large one.... both parties would have slowed down considerably because you just can’t execute a roundabout in excess speed ..... or blow that “stop” sign.  I am a big, big supporter of crop circles, we just need to train our drivers to execute them correctly...... BOTH LANES CLEAR BEFORE YOU ENTER......too easy.

Submitted by E-Mail

I have three comments related to Roundabouts:

1. The Region of Waterloo began installing roundabouts in 2004. Readers can find information about their roundabouts at the two links below.

2. It appears that the stated roundabout collision reduction claims are for a mix of single and multi-lane roundabouts. It is common for single lane roundabouts in a given reporting area to considerably outnumber multi-lane intersections.

  • Collision stats for single lane roundabouts tend to show that all three categories of collisions reduce (fatal, injury and property damage only) compared to single lane signalized or stop intersections with similar traffic flows.
  • Stats for multi-lane roundabouts tend to have a different pattern in that fatal and injury collisions reduce but fender-benders increase significantly compared to the stats for signalized or stop intersections with similar traffic flows.

3. A common objective in designing a public roadway is to ensure that the road surface is visible sufficiently ahead of a moving vehicle that the driver can take appropriate action when encountering debris, snow, potholes, whatever on the road surface. Where a roundabout contains a feature in the centre island, especially those drivers using the roundabout to make a left turn may find that the centre island feature noticeably impairs their vision of the immediate oncoming road surface.

Submitted by E-Mail

Being a European it seems considerably dumb that round-a-bouts are not here & they really help the traffic flow.

But if you want to see the king of them all, check out the dials in Hemel Hempstead in the UK, I actually help build this beauty!

It works so well with hardly any accidents of any kind of traffic jams on a major junction point.


That is amazing.  As I studied the process (map) it took me awhile to realize the vehicles are travelling in the left lane.  Thanks for the share, we are so far behind over here in these very safe roundabouts.  Wish we’d hurry up and catch up.

I travel through a roundabout

I travel through a roundabout every time I leave my home. Far superior to the 4 way stop we had before. Only problem I do wish people would find that little stalk on the left side of their steering wheel. You know the one that turns on those blinky lights?

But I have a question. Just after I got my licence I ran into one and I am sure the instructions for that intersection was if you entered from the right lane you had to take the next exit. In other words if you entered in the right lane you were turning right and exited at the next intersection. For this reason it was not necessary to wait for a open space as the person in the right lane was exiting. If you wanted to go straight, turn left or make a "U" turn you entered from the left lane and went into either the center or far left lane.

When you got close to your exit you had the normal yield or merge consideration but if you were paying attentiion to the traffic this was no problem, you changed into the right lane and exited.

For a 16 yr old country hick from the B.C. interior there was more vehicles in that circle than one would see driving 50k at home. But even then I thought they worked great and soon found they were normal in many countries.


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