Lafayette’s proposed roundabout design would create dangerous conditions for kids and adults riding bikes. (Source: City of Lafayette)

Lafayette’s proposed roundabout design would create dangerous conditions for kids and adults riding bikes. (Source: City of Lafayette)

Tonight (Thursday January 14th) at 7:00 PM, the Lafayette Circulation Commission will review a dangerous double-wide roundabout proposal at the intersection of Pleasant Hill Road and Olympic Boulevard, two key corridors for bicycling. The proposed dual-lane design would create a chaotic gap in Lafayette’s bicycle network, serving as a barrier to safe cycling to schools and destinations across the city.

Bike East Bay has written an excellent critique of the design’s flaws. In essence, roundabouts pose inherent safety challenges for bicycling, so extra care must be taken to properly accommodate bicyclists using best practices. However, the proposed design does not take these necessary precautions. The design takes an ambiguous and unintuitive approach to bicyclists: it abruptly drops the bike lane and forces bicyclists to merge into traffic or ride on the sidewalk. For experienced road cyclists and less experienced children alike, the design compromises safety and creates an unpredictable condition with little margin for error. Moreover, the dual-lane approach increases potential conflicts between people driving and biking by reducing visibility and encouraging higher speeds through the roundabout. The dual-lane approach isn’t even functionally necessary to accommodate existing traffic volumes and included only in anticipation of what future traffic volumes could be (a practice that hasn’t worked out well for other cities).

Bike East Bay has proposed several improvements to make the roundabout a world class facility, referencing Dutch-inspired protected intersection concepts included in Massachusetts’ state of the art bikeway guidance and Caltrans’ new design guidance for protected bikeways. A simple single lane approach combined with separated, organized, predictable spaces for all users would create a seamless link between neighborhoods, as opposed to a complicated, dangerous, chaotic barrier. With such a design, Lafayette could become a national leader in bicycle safety.

Best-practice protected bikeway roundabout design (Source: Massachusetts Separated Bikeway Design Guide)

Best-practice protected bikeway roundabout design (Source: Massachusetts Separated Bikeway Design Guide)

Those interested in seeing a safer roundabout design can attend tonight’s circulation commission meeting at 7:00pm at the Lafayette Library at 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd. If you can’t attend, you can email city staff to express your opinion about the proposed design:

Tony Coe, City Engineer/Project Manager: TCoe@ci.lafayette.ca.us
Don Tatzin, City Council/Circulation Commission Liason: dtatzin@lovelafayette.org
Traci Reilly, City Council/Circulation Commission Liason: treilly@lovelafayette.org