Roundabout Rage hits Wisconsin
It's fascinating how politicians who get elected on platforms of "respect for taxpayers" and not spending money have no problem wasting it when it suits their politics. Where I live, Rob Ford spends millions to pull up brand new bike lanes and cancel funded rapid transit lines for imaginary subways. In Wisconsin, they want to get rid of roundabouts that save money and lives.
The Wisconsin Department of Transport has been installing them across the state since 2004, noting that they are significantly safer, because drivers are moving more slowly. As one engineer noted in the Journal-Sentinel, "The chances of killing someone at 20 mph are substantially less than the chances of killing someone at 55 mph".
However some people don't like them, and the Republicans are trying to over-ride the state agency responsible for traffic safety and want to delegate authority to local councils. Rep. David Craig (R-Town of Vernon) says:
This legislation ensures that local communities have a say in the roundabout process and ensures that Madison bureaucrats — many of whom will never use the roundabouts they design — cannot trample on the voice of those who will actually navigate these roadway projects.
According to the Political Environment, State Senator Mary Lazich is complaining that Wisconsin is on a "roundabout rampage". The writer notes the reason:
In this case, their God-given Natural American Freedom Right to make old-fashioned right turns or drive straight-through intersections after idling away gasoline behind slowpokes at lights and or stop signs.... Though experts agree that roundabouts reduce accidents and their severity when compared with straight-through intersections with 90-degree turns that your great-grandparents preferred in the old-timey, data-free past.
Flickr/CC BY 2.0
The stats on roundabouts are pretty amazing; a 52% reduction in fatal and injury crashes, a 9% reduction in all crashes (a lot of fender-benders at slow speed but few spectacular high speed t-bones). They save fuel in cars and the electricity and maintenance of traffic lights. But hey, they're French. (Actually, they are English too)