Roundabouts That Work for Cyclists and Pedestrians

Provincetown is in the process of redesigning Shank Painter Road and its intersection with Route 6. You can see the full details in the presentation that was given at this week’s public information session. The recommended alternative at this point includes a roundabout at Route 6, but so far the roundabout is only for motor vehicles:

Where are the crosswalks?  Concept for a roundabout at Route 6 and Shank Painter Rd. in Provincetown (Courtesy Provincetown Department of Public Works)

Where are the crosswalks? Concept for a roundabout at Route 6 and Shank Painter Rd. in Provincetown (Courtesy Provincetown Department of Public Works)

There’s no way to get across this roundabout safely on foot or on a bike, and there are several destinations on the northern side that people want to get to. I’ve marked the roundabout with a circle and the destinations with stars on this map:

OpenCycleMap with the proposed roundabout location (circle) and destinations (stars) that people need to cross the highway to reach.

OpenCycleMap with the proposed roundabout location (circle) and destinations (stars) that people need to cross the highway to reach.

You’ll often see cars parked at the starred locations – that’s the only way to get to the trails safely. The town recently installed bike racks at the star on the far left, which is the access for the Clapps & Duck’s Pond trail system. There’s also another bike rack across Route 6 at the trail entrance for Shank Painter Pond.

To learn more about bikes, pedestrians, and roundabouts, I attended a webinar sponsored by the Association for Bicycle & Pedestrian Professionals, which I joined as a member a few years ago. The webinar was titled “Roundabouts That Work for Cyclists and Pedestrians”, so I thought I was going to see examples of roundabouts with bike and pedestrian crossings. Sadly, there as very little discussion of bike crossings for roundabouts.

So I turned to the internet to see what I could find, and here’s my dream roundabout:

A few takeaways from that video:

  • There are crosswalks and “crossbikes” where motor vehicles yield to people (the little triangular yield symbols on the pavement indicate that)

  • Traffic moves at a slow, safe speed;

  • The pavement color makes it clear that there is a bike path;

  • The cars have ample space to wait just before the bike crossing outside of the inner roundabout circle.

As it turns out, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation has developed guidance for a very similar kind of roundabout, but as far as I can tell, so far none have been built:

The roundabout design from the MassDOT Separated Bike Lanes manual.

The roundabout design from the MassDOT Separated Bike Lanes manual.

It seems that if we want to make safe multi-modal streets, the street design needs to provide for all modes.

The roundabout design from the MassDOT Separated Bike Lanes manual.

The Shank Painter Road/Route 6 project is just getting started, so there’s lots of opportunity to provide input into what the final design will become. The town is targeting a 25% design by the end of 2018, so now’s the time to get crosswalks, crossbikes, and any other wish list items (public art) into the planning scheme.

Links to Learn More: