Roundabouts Near Businesses
Types of Business
Drive-by or Impulse Businesses - Businesses that rely on customers seeing the location such as gas stations or restaurants.
Customers expect to get in and out easily. The critical issues are visibility, signage, and convenient access. Roundabouts calm traffic, making nearby business signage more visible. The slower speed of traffic gives drivers a better chance of seeing signs and locating the building, it also results in fewer and lower speed conflicts at the entrance and exit from the business.
Destination Businesses - Businesses where customers plan their trips in advance.
A business located on a congested highway may often be avoided by customers because it is perceived as unsafe to access. Stores may benefit from being located on a main road with slower speeds owing to the use of a roundabout. Also, with a roundabout, if a driver misses a left turn, a U-turn can easily and safely be made at the roundabout.
Adding a roundabout as a gateway feature helps to enhance the aesthetics of a community. The splitter islands and central island provide opportunity for green space or an attractive centerpiece to the community. This could also provide a signature feature for a community to be used in advertisements or to bring tourists to the area. Designs often include landscaping to be sure that pedestrian and vehicle safety is considered. According to the National Cooperative Highway Research Program Report 672 Roundabouts: An Informational Guideline, roundabouts spur economic development, conveying to developers that the area is favorable for investment and re-development. The amount of space a roundabout needs for its approach roadways is less than that required for signal or controlled intersections. That residual space provides room for wider sidewalks and landscaping.
Businesses near roundabouts have the opportunity for more parking near the intersection where a roundabout is used. A roundabout may need more property within the actual intersection, but will often take up less space on the streets approaching the roundabout. Because roundabouts can handle greater volumes of traffic more efficiently than signals, where drivers may need to line up and wait for a green light, roundabouts usually require fewer lanes approaching the intersection.
Large Vehicle Access
When it comes to vehicles that make wide turns such as freight trucks, drivers may be skeptical of a roundabout being installed within their path. Usually a truck apron consisting of a raised curb and contrasting pavement is provided around the central island. The truck apron gives large trucks more area to drive on, but is not intended for passenger cars.
Owing to lower speeds and shorter crossings are pedestrian friendly, making access to adjacent businesses convenient. The splitter island of a roundabout provides a refuge for pedestrians and allows them to cross one direction of traffic at a time. Unexpected left turns are also not an issue at roundabouts, making them easier to cross. Single lane roundabouts are deemed to be an 'accessible intersection' according to the US Access Board definition of accessibility.
Contrary to many peoples’ perceptions, roundabouts actually move vehicles through an intersection with less congestion than a signalized intersection. Roundabouts provide a continuous flow preventing backup especially on busy days. Traffic is not required to stop - only yield, so more traffic can flow through the intersection in the same amount of time.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety published studies in Kansas, Maryland and Nevada that showed a reduction in delays by 19%, 23% and 13% respectively as a result of roundabouts. These roundabouts also experienced significant reductions in the number of stopped vehicles. With the increase in traffic volumes, businesses have greater traffic exposure.
Also, even with the slower speeds the average travel time through a roundabout corridor is faster than with a traffic signal controlled corridor. In Golden Colorado, prior to the roundabouts the corridor contained two traffic signals and the average travel time was calculated to be 78 seconds. Since the roundabouts the average travel time was reduced to 68 seconds. The delay experienced entering and exiting a business was also reduced. Before the roundabouts the average delay at business access points was 28 seconds with a high of 118 seconds. After installation the average was reduced to 13 seconds with a maximum delay of 40 seconds.
Crossing or entering a busy intersection is easier with a roundabout. A two to four lane road is wide enough to encourage speeding, making it unsafe for all entering drivers. With a roundabout, the main road is accessed easier and more safely now that all entering lanes need to yield.
Faster travel times, better access control, fewer accidents and lower delay at business access points all contribute to an increase in economic activity. Golden Colorado experienced a 60% increase in sales tax revenues in six years and over 75,000 square feet of retail/office space has been built along the corridor that recently installed four roundabouts.
A Study of the Impact of Roundabouts on Traffic Flows and Business
Kansas State University Transportation Center - November 2012