Roundabouts Near Schools
Roundabouts near schools have proven successful in many cases throughout the United States. A roundabout near a school zone may be a form of traffic calming since vehicles are forced to slow down and yield to traffic. With proper design, which can be seen in further detail in Framework for Assessing Roundabout near a School Zone, a roundabout allows school buses, passenger cars, pedestrians such as school children, and bicycles to share the road safely.
Traffic flow near schools is a critical element in roundabout safety. School zones are busy during drop-off and pick-up times, and often coincide with rush hour traffic. Traffic flow must be analyzed closely in order to determine the optimal roundabout design around schools.
Roundabouts require motorists to slow down to maneuver the roundabout, which provides a safer environment for pedestrians than signalized intersections.
As pedestrians, school children have the legal right-of-way to cross at intersections. A signalized intersection puts much of the responsibility on the children trying to cross the intersection safely. However they may be incapable of accurately judging the distance and speed of oncoming vehicles. This provides a dangerous situation because motorists driving through green lights may not have time to react to children entering a crosswalk.
Roundabouts place more responsibility for avoiding a crash on the adult motorist. They enable the motorist to slow down as they approach and pass through the crosswalks. Roundabouts also contain a splitter island allowing children to cross one direction of traffic at a time. Crosswalks at modern roundabouts are typically set at least one full car length back from the yield line. This means that pedestrians do not have to cross in front of drivers that are looking for a gap in the circling traffic. This also simplifies the driver’s decision making tasks by separating the two actions.
Buses at Roundabouts
Roundabouts near schools are designed to allow easy maneuverability by buses. Lane widths are such that buses have adequate room to turn through the roundabout, and should generally be accommodated within the circulatory roadway without tracking over the truck apron, which could cause discomfort to bus occupants.
Bus stops located on streets can be provided on either the entry or exit side of a roundabout. Pedestrian access to and from the bus stop should be carefully considered. Bus drivers also have an easier time pulling into traffic that moves slower and has breaks in traffic due to the roundabout.
Case Study: Wisconsin Roundabouts Calm Traffic, Improve School Zone Safety
U.S. Department of Transportation - FHWA May 2011
Below you can view a video of a roundabout near St Mary's High School in Kitchener, Ontario that includes pedestrians and vehicles navigating through the roundabout. After that you will find some links to Google images of roundabouts that are located near elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and college campuses.