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Roundabouts Improve Safety

Fewer construction projects generate more interest than that of roundabouts. While they are a newer traffic control measure for Cedar Rapids, roundabouts have a well-documented history of safety benefits.

The Federal Highway Administration Office of Safety identified roundabouts as a “Proven Safety Countermeasure because of their ability to substantially reduce the types of crashes that result in injury or loss of life. Roundabouts are designed to improve safety for all users, including pedestrians and bicycles.”

Safety benefits of roundabouts include:

  • Eliminating head-on crashes
  • Eliminating right-angle crashes
  • Reducing the severity of crashes
  • Reducing vehicle speed (their design forces vehicles to slow down – as opposed to traffic signals, where a car could disregard the signal and speed through the intersection)

Cedar Rapids currently has one roundabout, which can be found on the campus of the College Community School District, on Kirkwood Blvd. The roundabout was constructed last summer after the intersection struggled for years under congestion. It’s been running smoothly since installation.

Two additional roundabouts are in the works for Cedar Rapids:

  • Johnson Avenue and Wiley Blvd
  • Johnson Avenue and Jacolyn Drive
These are single-lane roundabouts, and are being included as part of an overall reconstruction project this summer on Johnson Avenue between 1st Avenue to Wesley Drive.

Why include roundabouts on this construction project?

  • Safety: Over the last 10 years there have been 65 crashes at the intersection of Johnson and Wiley. 47 of the crashes (72%) would have been eliminated with a roundabout.
    Studies have shown that 83% of vehicles yield to pedestrians in a roundabout vs. the 7% of vehicles that yield to pedestrians in a traditional intersection. 
  • School Safety: The mini roundabout planned for Johnson and Wiley Blvd will include flashing pedestrian signage, in addition to the crossing guard, which will be an added safety benefit for Hoover Elementary.  
  • Efficiency: Roundabouts have been shown to be more effective that signalized intersections when it comes to moving large volumes of traffic, with less delay to motorists during peak hours and throughout the day.
  • Cost Effective: Because pavement reconstruction is already necessary to fix the roadway surface, there are no additional costs associated with the installation of the two roundabouts. The roundabout planned for Johnson Avenue and Wiley Blvd will actually cost approximately $91,000 less than the cost of replacing and maintaining a new traffic signal. The full project includes pavement reconstruction, underground storm sewer improvements, sidewalks, and bike lanes, and will cost approximately $8 million.
  • Timing: With pavement improvements planned for this summer, now is the time to evaluate the roadway’s existing conditions, crash history, and traffic volumes to ensure we are repairing and replacing the intersection with the most appropriate and safest traffic control measure.

We will continue to look for the best traffic control solutions on our projects moving forward. In some cases, roundabouts can be the safest solution. 

Need some resources on roundabouts? Visit our page: www.cityofcr.com/roundabouts.

Have questions?
Let us know how we can help. The Traffic Engineering Division can be reached at the following:

John Witt
Traffic Engineering Program Manager
  Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 101 First Street SE

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