Safety, Street Design, Walking|

Mode Shift Omaha’s board is writing to express our support of replacing four way lights with roundabouts on Farnam Street in the Dundee Neighborhood in line with the City’s traffic study recommendations (Keep Omaha Moving page on this project). Mode Shift has advocated for traffic changes on Farnam for many years, and believes that roundabouts are the best way to implement a “Vision Zero” strategy on that street, where no crashes or injuries take place. 

It is true that adjusting the traffic lights on 50th and 52nd has reduced crashes, but a reduction is not sufficient. Roundabouts reduce injuries; when crashes take place on roundabouts, they are more likely to crash into infrastructure rather than a T-bone type crash that results in death or injury. The “Keep Dundee Safe” petition cites that reducing crashes means the infrastructure is good enough; Mode Shift maintains that any infrastructure changes that can be made to remove injuries is essential. 

image of proposed roundabout at 52nd and Farnam streets with a green circle in the middle of the intersection and concrete islands in the middle of each street leading into the roundabout.

Nicole Wheeler, Mode Shift Member, Dundee Resident, and active pedestrian says that she has had some close calls at these intersections, because drivers do not know what direction traffic is coming from and drivers become anxious. Also, due to the lack of left turn lanes, traffic gets backed up and drivers try to rush through when they get a chance to go. She says, “In my opinion, roundabouts reduce the number of inputs drivers have to look at and would make it easier for them to see pedestrians. Most of the congestion at these intersections comes from cars queued at the lights – you can easily cross at non-signalized intersections at even the busiest times of day. Reducing the queuing will make the streets more walkable for all.”

“We applaud the City’s commitment to make Farnam Street two-way everyday after years of citizen advocacy for this outcome! We also support the proposed roundabouts, which will further slow traffic, focus drivers’ attention, and increase safety in the area,” says Mode Shift Omaha’s Board Chair Liz Veazey, who also lives in Dundee.

Mode Shift prioritizes the safety and accessibility of pedestrian infrastructure, and roundabouts increase pedestrian safety. Pedestrians can utilize sidewalks on the outside of the roundabout, and only need to cross one lane at a time because of the islands in between lanes, resulting in crossing shorter distances. Traffic speeds are lower at roundabouts than traditional intersections. Yield rates to pedestrians are very high. Jeff Riesselman from the City of Omaha’s Public Works Department says, “While it is true no pedestrians have been injured at signalized 50th or 52nd in the recent past, Vision Zero evaluations have shown ZERO incidents of injury/fatality for peds/bikes at the 23 roundabouts across the City.” Check out this great informational pamphlet from the U.S department of transportation on roundabouts. 

Mode Shift encourages members and elected leaders to support resolution 48 tomorrow at City Council.

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