Achieving a Cleaner Environment with Modern Roundabouts

Posted by on Sep 15, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Modern roundabouts are helping to contribute to a cleaner environment, which is vital given growing concerns about the health and sustainability of our environment.

With the news of global warming and the advent of many human health related impacts, concern for a cleaner environment has never been more universally in the forefront of world issues. The health and sustainability of our world is not just one country’s issue, but everyone’s, both collectively and individually.

More locally, California has recognized its responsibility and is taking the health of our environment seriously. Over the past ten years, our Legislature has been busy providing policy direction concerning our environment. Some key legislation includes the passage of:

  • AB 32 – The California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006
  • SB 375 – Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008
  • AB 1358 – California Complete Streets Act of 2008

Each of these adopted legislative acts establish new standards and reduction thresholds to reduce further degradation of our environment and policy direction on achieving and sustaining a cleaner future.

With the passage of AB 1358, the California Complete Streets Act, the focus on the movement of people on our street systems changed. Our focus was no longer on facilitating the movement of primarily cars, but on the mobility of people, be they in a car, walking, biking or riding public transit. With a previously single focus on moving cars within available public rights of way, the safety and convenience to walk, cycle or ride public transit was often diminished or sacrificed altogether. Now, with a more multi-modal focus, consideration for all modes of travel whether in our cities or in our more rural communities are being incorporated into plans and improvements to create responsive and safe circulation systems.

As our circulation systems are now being reevaluated, the advent of modern roundabouts have truly emerged that not only improve mobility, safety and capacity, but also to help improve our environment. Studies have found that when conventional intersections (signalized and unsignalized) are converted to modern roundabouts, traffic keeps moving, there is less delay and minimal stopping/idling/starting of vehicles, which is the worst cause of air polluting emissions. Specifically, based on a Kansas research study, they found conversion of conventional intersections to modern roundabouts achieved the following air quality pollution reductions:

  • 38-45% Decrease in Carbon Monoxide Emission
  • 44-51% Decrease in Nitrogen Oxide
  • 55-61% Decrease in Carbon Dioxide Emissions
  • 62-68% Decrease in Hydrocarbon

With the possibility of achieving these types of air pollution reductions, conversion of our circulation systems to incorporate modern roundabouts on a larger scale will not only have positive transformative community impacts, in terms of improved mobility, increased safety, and reduced traffic congestion, but will also help create a more healthy and sustainable environment for all of us to work and play.

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