Roundabout Leadership a Hallmark of KAI
April 16, 2014
When Ed Myers was asked to consider a roundabout for an interchange on the D.C. Beltway 25 years ago, little guidance was available at the time. In those pre-Internet days, few American cities were implementing roundabouts, so he turned to Europe and Australia for examples.
“Primarily what they were finding was there was a pretty significant safety benefit to roundabouts, with a 50 to 80 percent reduction in crashes,” said Ed, now a senior principal in Kittelson & Associates’ Baltimore office.
Maryland’s transportation department began implementing roundabouts on single-lane, rural roads recognized as problem areas, and quickly realized the same significant decrease in crashes.
Although citizens in the region initially were skeptical about roundabouts, a decade’s worth of public involvement and education has resulted in broad acceptance there. And that acceptance is being seen in other regions across the country, where similar public involvement and education efforts are underway.
Ed will share his experience with roundabouts during a panel discussion with other long-time proponents during this week’s Transportation Research Board-sponsored 4th International Conference on Roundabouts in Seattle. He is among several KAI staff members who will present and/or moderate sessions during the event, underscoring the firm’s extensive involvement and expertise with roundabouts.
Indeed, the past two decades has seen KAI involved in the feasibility study, peer review and final design of more than 500 potential or constructed roundabouts in North America. KAI also has led and collaborated extensively on roundabout guides and research.
Lee Rodegerdts, PE, a principal engineer in KAI’s Portland office, said one of the interesting aspects of roundabouts is that despite their proven performance, much is still being learned about them, which is why the international conference is such a valuable venue. A vast amount of information sharing occurs between countries, he noted.
Modern roundabouts in the U.S. and knowledge about their design, operations and safety have developed to the point where other countries – Canada and Japan, to name just two – are looking at U.S. experiences among others, while transportation professionals in America continue to learn from each other and from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands and other countries.
Because roundabouts as a transportation tool are constantly evolving, Lee said he stays in “learning mode” and encourages others to do so as well.
“We are still learning lessons, and we’ll continue to learn,” he said.
Lee’s involvement in roundabouts began with his role as editor of the first edition of Roundabouts: An Informational Guide for FHWA. That led to helping spearhead KAI’s short course on roundabouts, which the firm has since presented in various forms more than 60 times across the nation and in five countries.
During this week’s conference, one of Lee’s podium presentations will focus on KAI-led research involving nine case studies around the U.S. in which roundabouts have been built in a series of three or more. One of the interesting outcomes is the positive impact a series of roundabouts has on access management, he said.
While more than 3,000 modern roundabouts have been built in the U.S., the level of experience and expertise with them vary by region. Roundabouts are but one tool in the toolbox, Lee said, and it’s vital to understand their benefits and limitations and ways to improve their performance.
Note: Follow along as KAI provides frequent updates and information from the TRB Roundabout Conference this week through Twitter (#Rndbt2014)