A Dutch roundabout includes a segregated cycling lane at the periphery of the traffic circle, typically in between the outermost motor vehicle traffic lane and the crosswalk for pedestrians, but can also be placed outside of the roundabout altogether. This design may also adjust the positioning of crosswalks by angling them or placing them further away from the centre of the roundabout. These features are designed to increase safety for vulnerable road users (VRUs) by physically separating them from motor vehicles and increasing their visibility.
Rather than address a specific problem with the existing traffic infrastructure, the Dutch-inspired roundabout design is intended to be a proactive measure to enhance safety for VRUs. The pilot aims to assess the benefits of the design and the potential for adapting it to other roundabout locations in the city.
In 2020, the City of Kitchener implemented Dutch-inspired design changes to the existing roundabout at Huron Road and Strasbourg Road. The changes include the addition of a designated cycling lane on the outer rim of the roundabout and slight adjustments to pedestrian crossovers. In some cases, the crossovers were angled inward to increase pedestrian visibility to drivers.
The roundabout at Huron Road and Strasbourg Road is located in a rapidly growing suburban area in close proximity to Huron Heights Secondary School and several businesses. As a result, there is a high concentration of VRUs, trucks and high vehicle speeds. The roundabout does not have a history of collisions.
Data and lessons learned
One of the main challenges associated with implementing a Dutch design is the difference between European and North American cycling culture and norms. Dutch roundabouts were designed within the context of high cycling volumes and normative cycling behaviour, such as travelling through the roundabout in one direction. In the proposal stages of this design, feedback received consistently noted that these conditions would likely not exist in Kitchener. Volumes of cyclists using the roundabout may not be high and the cyclists who interact with the roundabout may not behave in a predictable way. Varying cyclist behaviour may confuse or make navigating the roundabout more challenging for other road users. Additional data and lessons learned will be provided as findings from the pilot become available.
Yor et al. (2015) conducted a series of off-street trials of a Dutch style roundabout with an orbital track in London, England. The goal was to explore a roundabout design that all types of cyclists would feel comfortable using, and to research safety implications for cyclists. The roundabout layout was based upon one of several types of roundabouts that can be found in the Netherlands, and several different entry/exit arm treatments were tested. The trials found that:
- In general, perceptions of the roundabout were positive – cyclists and drivers suggested that segregation was a good thing for safety.
- The entry/exit arm design with the lowest rates of adverse interactions between cyclists and vehicles involved good segregation and a reasonably straightforward entry to the orbital cycle track.
- Tight entry and exits into and out of the orbital track, and visibility of cyclists circulating the cycle track from heavy goods vehicles were highlighted as key concerns with the roundabout design.
Additionally, information campaigns were noted as being necessary should the treatment be implemented.
The City of Kitchener will conduct an evaluation of the safety impact of the Dutch-inspired roundabout, which will include conflict monitoring. Conflict monitoring is expected to take place in 2022.