April 30


Here is an article from Binghamton, NY briefly discussing the political posturing over putting a roundabout in their downtown.  Apparently the local business owners believe the roundabout may kill their businesses.

Reconstructing streets in downtown areas is often an economic negative for the business owners.  When I was an intern for the City of St. Paul about fifteen years ago, a coffee shop owner got a fair amount of press for coming out and throwing donuts at the equipment reconstructing the street in front of the restaurant.  The coffee shop ended up closing.

Setting aside the economic downturn suffered during construction, I am wondering if anyone has studied the economic impacts on businesses of roundabouts versus traffic signals.  I haven't come across such a study. 

I occasionally cite research done by Iowa State that points to the economic impacts of limiting driveways.  It is helpful to have research to fall back on instead of arguing about opinions.  I would like to have research to cite on the roundabout/traffic signal economic debate.  Any academics out there that can take this up?

  • It’s important to distinguish between effects on businesses during construction and what happens afterwards. Any construction can have a negative impact on adjacent businesses during construction.
    UK roundabout engineer/evangelist Barry Crown used to say he had a “petrol” company employee call him regularly, asking if they had plans for any new roundabouts. If he gave them a location, they would try to buiy one of the corner properties and put in a gas station.
    His point was roundabouts are good for businesses that rely on drive-by traffic, because drivers coming from any direction can use the roundabout to quickly and easily get to a driveway.
    Rather than make an unprotected left or wait for an arrow, they loop around the roundabout and turn right into the driveway on the downstream side. When leaving, they turn right out the driveway on the upstream driveway, and use the roundabout to make a left or u-turn.

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    Mike Spack

    My mission is to help traffic engineers, transportation planners, and other transportation professionals improve our world.

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