How to properly utilize U.S. 41 roundabouts from 10th Street to 14th Street in Sarasota County

High-intensity activated crosswalk (HAWK) pedestrian crossing systems will also be activated at intersections
Updated: Apr. 17, 2020 at 6:55 AM EDT
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The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) have installed roundabouts at the intersections on U.S. 41 at 10th street, and 14th street. Travel lanes at U.S. 41 and 10th street will be changing to a two-lane roundabout configuration by Friday, April 17, and at U.S. 41 and 14th street by Sunday, April 19.

Improvements including bike lanes as well as dedicated turn lanes, a 10-foot sidewalk along the west side, and a 6-foot sidewalk along the east side. There are raised islands for pedestrian refuge at the intersections of U.S. 41 at 10th Street and 14th Street, pedestrian signals, LED streetlights, landscaping and City of Sarasota utility and underground drainage structure replacements.

The new roundabouts will offer non-stop travel with no waiting at stop signs or traffic signals. Roundabouts accommodate up to 50% more traffic than typical intersections and reduce congestion.

"Take it slowly and you'll get in. It's not like a typical traffic signal, where if you miss the green light you're going to sit there for another two minutes. It's just a few seconds until you can enter your gap and enter the roundabout,” says Alex DavisShaw, City Engineer.

Roundabouts are intended to enhance the safety for motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists, all while creating a better traffic flow.

“Not only are they safer, but they are more efficient. So, for example a pedestrian is crossing, the vehicle only stops while they are crossing half of the roadway,” said DavisShaw.

Motorists will now have to follow roundabout signage and adapt to the proper driving conditions. This includes the new high-intensity activated crosswalk (HAWK) beacon originally designed as a cost-effective option for crossings at mid-block and un-signalized intersections. Unlike conventional pedestrian signals, the HAWK is only operational when activated by a pedestrian.

“When someone pushes the button, you’ll see it go through a series of lights. First, a flashing yellow, giving you an idea that something is about to occur. Then the solid yellow, meaning be prepared to stop, then the solid red. You must stop at the solid red, and then pedestrians cross. Then it goes to a flashing red, meaning a pedestrian has cleared the roadway. At that point in time, the vehicle can proceed,” said DavisShaw.

As a reminder, roundabouts are executed in a counterclockwise fashion after yielding to oncoming traffic within the traffic circle.

DavisShaw states, “When you approach the roundabout, you are just going to be looking at the vehicles that are coming to you from the left. Those are the vehicles that you have to look for, then you look for your gap.”

The City of Sarasota has a series of informational videos to help educate motorists on how to navigate the new multi-lane roundabouts on U.S. 41 at 10th and 14th streets.

The videos, produced in conjunction with engineering firm Kimley-Horn and Associates, can be viewed online on the City's website. The series of videos includes:

• A simulated driver's view of the two roundabouts

• Understanding the symbols used in roundabout pavement markings and street signs

• 10th Street roundabout lane and route guide

• 14th Street roundabout lane and route guide

Benefits of Roundabouts According to FDOT

• Traffic Safety – Reduce injury crashes by 76%

• Traffic Calming – Reduce vehicle speeds

• Pedestrian Safety – Focus on one traffic stream

• Operational Performance – reduce overall delay

• Operations and Maintenance – Reduce costs

• Approach Roadway Width – Reduce impacts

• Environmental Factors – Roundabouts are environmentally friendly

• Aesthetics – Can act as a gateway

Roundabout FAQ from FDOT:

■ What is the difference between a roundabout and a traffic circle?

Traffic circles are much larger than a roundabout and often have stop signs or signals within the circular intersection. Roundabouts are smaller and vehicles have to yield before entering. Roundabouts typically operate at relatively low speeds (<25 MPH) while traffic circles allow higher speeds (> 25 MPH). Roundabouts restrict pedestrians from entering the central island while some traffic circles allow pedestrians to cross to and from the central island.

■ How do I drive in a multi-lane roundabout?

Reduce your speed to 10-15 mph as you approach the roundabout; follow signs and pavement markings to determine the lane(s) that will serve your destination; look left for oncoming traffic (traffic moves counter-clockwise); yield to vehicles already in the roundabout and wait for a gap to enter. Once you have entered, do not stop in the roundabout; do not pass other vehicles; use your turn signal to exit the roundabout to the right; yield to pedestrians crossing the exit lane and allow emergency vehicles to pass.

■ How should drivers yield to emergency vehicles?

If you have not entered the roundabout, pull over to the right and allow the emergency vehicle to pass. If you have already entered the roundabout, continue to the closest exit and pull over once you are beyond the splitter island to allow the emergency vehicle to pass. Never stop in a roundabout.

■ Should I stop inside the roundabout to let someone in?

You should not stop after crossing the yield line and are actually in the roundabout circle. However, you may slow down so a safe gap becomes more obvious to the driver wanting to enter the roundabout.

■ How are pedestrians accommodated in a roundabout?

Pedestrians use marked crosswalks between the splitter islands that separate the roundabout approach and exit lanes. The splitter island serves as a pedestrian refuge between the crosswalks and allows pedestrians to focus on crossing one direction of traffic at a time.

■ What about visually impaired pedestrians?

Roundabouts are generally considered an advantage to the visually impaired because they can only cross one direction of traffic at a time and they can more easily distinguish between the vehicle noises. Also, the slower vehicle speeds at roundabouts make them generally safer for all pedestrians.

■ How are bicyclists accommodated in a roundabout?

Bicyclists may share the roadway with vehicles or dismount and use the sidewalk and crosswalk system to navigate through the roundabout.

■ How will large trucks be accommodated?

Roundabouts are designed to accommodate the turning movements of a tractor trailer rig. To accommodate the sweep of the trailer wheels as it makes its way through the roundabout, a truck apron is constructed around the inside of the circulating roadway. The apron is made of a different material or is colored differently in order to distinguish it from the circulating roadway and make it clear the truck apron is not intended to be driven on by smaller vehicles.

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