Pedestrians worry at Manette roundabout

 

The in basket: Josh Farley of the paper’s reporting staff told me in March about a Facebook string discussing perils facing pedestrians at the roundabout at the east end of the Manette Bridge. Manette resident Robin Henderson then tracked it down for me.

Joy Gjersvold kicked it off saying, “Good morning, Manette friends! Question for you all: Have you noticed as you enter and exit the traffic circle by the bridge the number of near misses of pedestrians? In the past three weeks I have noticed four incidents where pedestrians were nearly hit even after they waited for a safe moment to cross — using the crosswalk. In all four cases, the vehicles had to come to a screeching halt in order to keep from hitting someone. One of the vehicles was an oil truck. Yikes!

“Is there anything we can do to help make that area a bit safer for the folks out walking, jogging, and biking? My husband and I wish they’d put in the yellow flashing lights when someone is in the crosswalk.”

Catherine Tomko added, “I have noticed it worse coming from West Bremerton side into the circle, those drivers constantly never look, they race to get into the circle, thinking they have the right of way. Then the other one is those coming down from Wheaton Way into the circle, rushing into the circle ahead of any car coming.  I see the drivers in front of me and around me rush into that circle with no regard to the pedestrians. It honestly does make me nervous to walk anywhere around that circle.”

The lively Facebook discussion went on for much of that morning, with several others joining in, adding suggestions of the orange hand-held flags like Port Orchard has available at all its unsignalized crosswalks downtown.

The out basket: The state Transportation Department’s Web site has a lot about driving and walking in roundabouts. It says roundabouts are “designed to be safer for pedestrians than traditional intersections.”

The crosswalks are set farther back from vehicle conflict points and have an island in their center so those on foot can stop half-way across and need watch only one direction of traffic at a time, it says. Speeds often are lower in a roundabout too.

Still, roundabouts demand greater driver attention to meshing with other moving vehicles, so it’s easy to overlook a waiting or walking pedestrian.

I think the Manette one still is haunted my the pre-roundabout decades in which drivers coming off the bridge had the right of way in turning left. Even drivers who know that any traffic entering a roundabout must yield to traffic already in it might think incorrectly that the rules are somehow different at Manette.

Josh Farley and some who joined in the March morning Facenook exchange wondered if there is something that could be done to make the roundabout safer for pedestrians.

The state deferred to the city on that question and Gunnar Fridriksson, Bremerton’s managing engineer for streets, said “The city is reviewing signing associated with the Manette traffic circle and will be making changes with the Lower Wheaton Way project.  Our current focus is on bicyclists’ safety, but we will be reviewing for pedestrians as well.  To date, complaints received for the traffic circle have been bicycle-oriented, I am not familiar with any formal complaints from pedestrians.”

The Lower Wheaton Way project will widen sidewalks and make other improvements from the bridge to Lebo Boulevard.

It’s worth noting that the Port Orchard roundabout doesn’t have the orange flags most of the other unsignalized crosswalks in town do. Public works Director Mark Dorsey says that’s “because the issue and/or request has never come up. “

2 thoughts on “Pedestrians worry at Manette roundabout

  1. Ya know it really does not matter how easy it is to drive through a roundabout and how drivers are supposed to yield to the pedestrians and the cars that are making the turns, drivers are never going to change. It is almost like people refuse to figure it out. There are drivers who do just fly through them not paying a bit of attention and there are drivers who will sit there and stop at the entrance and back up the flow of traffic while the oncoming traffic continues to flow. If a driver would learn to read the other drivers and their cars they can pretty much know what their intentions are. I know most drivers dont use their turn signals but alot actually do. As far as a pedestrian goes it is hard to fathom that the drivers dont yield to them. Maybe carry a flag and wave it while walking through. But it would be a sad day if someone who hates the roundabouts actually hits someone cause they are angry about driving through one…

  2. As we create a more walker and bicycle friendly community, educating drivers to learn good behavior will require some extra effort. The idea of pedestrian flags has been recommended by several individuals, but flags place the burden of safety directly on the people who are already following existing pedestrian laws. Flags do not educate drivers to look for pedestrians, they only educate drivers to look for flags.

    I believe there are several other ideas which should be brought to the conversation on pedestrian/cyclist safety. One idea is to place a speed table at each intersection which would force drivers to slow down at every intersection. Drivers would learn that reduced speed is required at intersections, and therefore learn to respond to all intersections by reducing their speed.

    Another idea is to remind drivers that Washington State Law requires they give pedestrians the right of way. This reminder may need to be in the form of street signs placed at appropriate distances to intersections, so drivers have fair warning to slow speed and physically observe is pedestrians are present at an intersection.

    Lastly, because pedestrian safety is already a state law that carries a monetary penalty, the Bremerton Police Department may wish begin regularly enforcing the law and ticketing errant drivers. This would serve to educate drivers and provide additional revenue for the city.

    Here is a link to the relevant state law: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=46.61.261

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