The Mileground Roundabout: Is it Safer?

WVDOT

The Mileground Roundabout will safely carry over 30,000 cars per day. Photo courtesy of the WVDOT.

As Bryan mentioned yesterday, people are always talking about Morgantown’s newest addition to the Mileground. Whether you like the roundabout, hate it, or have no idea what it is, it’s now a part of Morgantown and several residents’ daily commute. We all knew it was coming due to spending countless hours in traffic due to the construction of the traffic circle on the Mileground; but on June 26, 2013 the roundabout became a reality for Morgantown.

When WVU students are in Morgantown nearly 135,000 people occupy the city often causing major traffic issues. Roundabouts are known for reducing large amounts of traffic. In fact, the City of Morgantown reported that the Mileground Roundabout is projected to carry about 30,000 vehicles a day reducing traffic significantly.

So what’s the problem with something that reduces the traffic issue we face everyday during rush hour? Most residents say the issue is confusion on how to use it which causes safety concerns.

“It’s not that bad,” said Morgantown Resident Tyler Elliot. “The biggest problem is that people don’t know how to use it.”

“I love the roundabout,” said Morgantown resident Sara Boppe. I find that it keeps traffic moving which is something the Mileground really needed. While the roundabout is safe, those who don’t know how to navigate it and refuse to really learn how to, make it unsafe. However, in the many times I’ve used it, I’ve never seen any unsafe driving while using it.”

While there have been no reported accidents yet as a result of the roundabout, some residents say they’ve had some interesting experiences while using it.

“I had to come to a dead stop in the middle of it because someone blew through a yield sign and almost hit me,” explained Morgantown resident Alyssa Casalino.

The West Virginia Department of Transportation issued a video that explains the roundabout and how to use it properly to those who’ve never used one. In addition, the city of Morgantown has come up with a few rules on how to ensure safety. The city says when approaching the roundabout, look for signs and pavement markings showing which lane you should be in. The city also says to slow down, obey all traffic signs and yield to pedestrians an bicyclists in the crosswalk. When using a roundabout, you should always yield to traffic on your left already in the roundabout. The city is also very clear that you should never make a left-hand turn into the roundabout. This is dangerous and could cause safety issues.

The key to solving the “problem” of safety involving the roundabout is to educate yourself on how to use it. Once you know how to use it, go slow and use caution each time you use it. Remember, not everyone will know how to use it, but more people will learn with time.

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5 thoughts on “The Mileground Roundabout: Is it Safer?

  1. Whitney,

    Thanks for your hard work on this blog. I’m happy that you included that informative video. What I’m left wondering is exactly how the city is making people aware of how to use the roundabout. Sure, the video was created and there is a page on the city’s website with an explanation, but how are they REALLY informing people? How are they getting people to inform themselves, or are they?

    Glad to hear there have not been any accidents!

    • Great question Maddi. I probably should have made this clearer in my post, but from all the research I did, other than mentioning these “rules” at a city council meeting and local news stations reporting on the roundabout and referencing the rules or videos, citizens have not really been pushed to inform themselves about the roundabout. As far as I can tell, citizens are required to seek the information out themselves, especially if they don’t listen to the radio or local news regularly. Even then, local news outlets only reported about the roundabout when it first opened. As students have come back to town, no one informed them of the roundabout rules either. It’s interesting that there hasn’t been any accidents due to the fact that many citizens are really uninformed.

  2. I think a substantial portion of the problems people have with the roundabout (incidentally, I always heard those things referred to as “traffic circles” before Morgantown got one) is that many people in town come from areas that don’t have a need for roundabouts. I’m from the Charleston area, and I’ve never sat in traffic all that much unless I was downtown during rush hour or there was a big event going on. That’s one of the state’s more highly populated areas and even it doesn’t have bad enough traffic to need roundabouts. So when people from my home area and similarly populated regions come to roundabout one day, they have to guess at how the things work. As more people figure gain experience with it, we won’t have as many people blowing through yield signs and having to stop in the middle of it. At least, I’d like to think that’s the case.

  3. Pingback: Morgantown Problems | Morgantown’s Roundabout: Poor Planning on the Mileground

  4. Looks good, although I’m not sure if it’s significantly distinct from the information in yesterday’s post. A series would be a GOOD idea, but it should be clearly laid out: For example, Monday might be the facts behind the roundabout, Tuesday could be local response and results. Good interaction in comments.

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