A roundabout sounds about right

A roundabout at the intersection of Pleasant Street and Pillsbury Drive would ease congestion.

The light rail’s completion through the University of Minnesota campus draws near, and officials are beginning to address traffic problem areas
around the University.

One such problem area is the traffic circle at the intersection of Pleasant Street Southeast and Pillsbury Drive Southeast, site of the Jones-Eddy Circle Campus Connector stop on the way to West Bank and remnant of the University’s intercampus trolley line.

Over the summer, Parking and Transportation Services installed a temporary roundabout using cones and traffic barrels at the troubled intersection. The roundabout is one of three potential solutions for fixing the highly congested area.

The Minnesota Daily reported on Sept. 11 that the intersection may have permanent traffic signals installed, or become a four-way stop. 

A roundabout would be more reminiscent of the University’s 1914 trolley circle than a four-way stop, and it would provide greater safety for the high flux of drivers, bikers and pedestrians through the area. Installing permanent traffic signals or making the circle into a four-way stop would be a mistake, leading to the same problems that persist in
the present configuration.

Though roundabouts face stiff public resistance in the U.S., fears about them are generally unfounded. According to surveys done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, people often have strong negative attitudes toward roundabouts before construction but positive attitudes after they
have been completed.

A report by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program states that roundabouts have shown to be effective in “improving intersection safety by eliminating or altering conflict types, reducing crash severity, and causing drivers to reduce speeds as they proceed into and through intersections.” 

Such a chaotic intersection, packed with students, buses and cars, is certainly in need of a solution that is equally efficient and safe. And for that, a roundabout with a bike lane is the best option. With limited change to the circular layout of the intersection, the roundabout answers to the University’s history while maintaining a safe and convenient entry into campus.