City council proclaims September to be Roundabout Education, Awareness and Safety Month in Richfield
Richfield city engineers and planners are always looking for ways to make the city’s infrastructure meet the needs of residents more effectively and efficiently. Sometimes that can mean adding more multi-family housing and in other cases, it might mean changing the number of lanes on a given road. The most drastic change the city has experienced since the turn of the 21st Century was the addition of roundabouts to the city’s transportation infrastructure.
Since 2007, Richfield went from having zero roundabouts to being home to four. All of the current roundabouts are on intersections along 66th Street. However, with the completion of the Lyndale Avenue Reconstruction Project, the city will add three new roundabouts south of 66th St. to its transportation network.
“Research has demonstrated that roundabouts are a more effective tool in helping to minimize injuries and fatalities resulting from crashes compared to traffic signal and stop sign-regulated intersections, said transportation engineer Jack Broz. “Roundabouts slow driving speeds, reduce traffic conflict points and allow for easier decision making by pedestrians, drivers and bicyclists.”
To reinforce best practices as the city increases the amount of roundabout controlled intersections it will undertake an intensive education, awareness and safety campaign to educate pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists on how to navigate these traffic control tools effectively.
To kick off this effort, the city council proclaimed September 2019 to be “Roundabout Education, Awareness and Safety Month” in Richfield.
Roundabout Education, Awareness and Safety Month is a collaborative effort between Richfield’s City Council, Administrative, Executive, Public Works and Public Safety Departments.
“To make sure that pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists feel safe traversing the city’s roundabouts is a team effort,” explained City Manager Katie Rodriguez. “It is all hands on deck here in Richfield when it comes to roundabout education, awareness and safety during the month of September.”
The city’s second roundabout was installed in 2008 at the intersection of Portland Avenue and 66th Street and started benefiting residents immediately.
“Prior to the installation of the roundabout at 66th Street and Portland Avenue, that signalized intersection was one of the most dangerous intersections in Hennepin County,” remembered Broz. “Now, with the roundabout, we have not seen any fatal accidents and staff has found as predicted that injuries from accidents that do occur are few and far between.
As part of Roundabout Education, Awareness and Safety Month the Richfield Police Department will be ramping up enforcement efforts at the city’s roundabouts to ensure that motorists are properly yielding to pedestrians.
Public Works Department staff will also be hosting two official pop-up events to educate pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists about how to safely utilize the city’s roundabouts.
The first pop-up event will take place on Thursday, September 12 from 2-4 p.m. at the Lyndale Avenue roundabout. The second pop-up event will take place at the Nicollet Avenue roundabout from 2-4 p.m. on Tuesday, September 17. Weather dependent, Richfield staff plans to hold more of these events as fall progresses.
Transportation employees will also be partnering with Richfield Public Schools Community Education to teach new student and adult drivers the importance of driver safety at roundabouts.
Lastly, the city’s communication professionals will be creating numerous social media items, videos, website articles and other communication materials to educate residents about roundabout safety.
“There is probably no issue that I get more resident feedback on than transportation safety, and more specifically roundabout safety,” said Ward I City Councilmember Simon Trautmann. “Roundabout Education, Awareness and Safety Month will provide residents will numerous resources to make sure they feel safe when they cross the city’s roundabouts.”
For more information about Richfield’s roundabouts, visit: https://www.richfieldsweetstreets.org/successes/roundabouts