Safety trumps complaints as Kelowna steadily adds traffic roundabouts - InfoNews

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Safety trumps complaints as Kelowna steadily adds traffic roundabouts

A bus circles the roundabout at Doyle Avenue and Ellis Street in downtown Kelowna, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017.
October 04, 2017 - 11:31 AM

KELOWNA - It’s been ten years now since Kelowna began installing roundabouts at intersections, baffling some drivers in the process.

But if you’re one of those drivers who has trouble negotiating them, you better get used to it — more are on the books, with the latest one under construction for $850,000 on Lakeshore Road in the Mission.

City of Kelowna transportation manager Gordon Hoy says his staff are always looking for potential roundabout sites, especially in new development, even though they are often more expensive than traditional signaled intersections.

“Roundabouts are associated with about a third less crashes and a 75 per cent reduction in injuries,” Hoy says, with additional savings from a reduction in lost wages and productivity.

Hoy says roundabouts usually take up roughly the same amount of land as regular two-lane intersections, but in a different shape.

Retrofitting them to smaller intersections in the downtown core can be difficult because of tight property lines and hard 90-degree corners, making them better suited to developments where they can be built from scratch, he says.

The city has 13 roundabouts now and Hoy says the last decade spent negotiating them has made a lot more Kelowna drivers comfortable with them.

“Drivers are slowly getting used to them and on some of our more recent installations, we haven’t heard as many complaints,” he says.

After Lakeshore Road, expect the next roundabout at Rutland Road North and Old Vernon Road, a project that will be done in conjunction with the provincial highways ministry which is widening Highway 97 to six lanes.

Hoy says the city has no set number of roundabouts it would like to install, instead reacting to the opportunities as they arise, although an attempt to itemize possible sites will likely be made in Kelowna’s upcoming transportation master plan.

— This story was corrected at 2:17 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. Sexsmith Road was incorrectly named as the location of a roundabout. The correct location is Old Vernon Road.

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