Roundabouts Coming Soon Everywhere

Roundabouts Coming Soon Everywhere

The Central Avenue safety improvement project (“New Central Avenue Plan Goes in Circles,” Nov. 26) includes some roundabouts (traffic circles.) The City of Alameda argues that roundabouts are being successfully used around the world. What the city is not saying is the following.


The Alameda Transportation Commission (ATC) at its Jan. 27, meeting made a presentation of roundabouts to promote their use. All the roundabout examples showed equal access to all street segments. Not one of the examples of roundabouts showed the benefits of closing down a street segment. The Central Avenue project’s intersection at Sherman Street is currently designed to either close northbound Sherman Street at Central Avenue or force drivers to make a right hand turn onto Encinal Avenue — no more northbound continued access to Sherman Street.

Any vehicle in the south/southwest end of Alameda who wants to travel to north or northwest destinations has two major streets from which to choose: Grand Street or Westline Drive/Eighth Street. The “as the crow flies” best route from Shore Line Drive or Otis Drive to north center of Alameda is to use Grand, turn left onto either Dayton Avenue, Clinton Avenue, or San Antonio Avenue and then northbound onto Sherman Street.

Shutting down northbound access on Sherman Street will force drivers to drive along other side streets.


At ATC’s last meeting of March 24, some commissioners were very enthusiastic and motivated as they discussed the merits of roundabouts/traffic circles. They discussed how wonderful life would be if there was a roundabout at every intersection in Alameda! That would force slower and safer driving throughout the city. They would start with the highest injury locations.

I immediately responded under public comment, but I implore the public to consider that roundabouts slow down police, fire, and ambulance services. The roundabout can’t adjust to the situation to expedite emergency services through the intersection.

I would love to hear the police and fire departments’ public input on roundabouts throughout the Island City. How much will roundabouts slow down police or fire arriving at a problem or disaster or slow down an ambulance getting you to a hospital?

Humans Err

Considering roundabouts at the highest injury locations is only addressing where unsafe driver, unsafe pedestrian, or unsafe bicycle decisions were made by people. The solution is to educate people, not spending money on roundabouts alone. The consultants and the city should read the police reports’ source cause of why an injury occurred at a particular location. What human error occurred? Was there poor lighting or was the sun in their eyes? Was either person distracted paying more attention to their Smartphone or headphones? Was one person in a hurry to get somewhere? Was there a medical reason for the accident?

The current “Vision Zero” (zero accidents) thinking appears to be to spend money on infrastructure to solve problems when human error is often the root cause of most accidents.

Learn more about the project at The City Council will discuss for approval the Central Avenue project at its Tuesday, April 20, meeting. T

he meeting agenda can be found at Be sure to read the agenda for instructions how to register and participate in public comment.

Jim Strehlow is a life-long resident of Alameda.