Hwy 61 roundabout would be less safe for pedestrians


(9/9/2020)

From: Dr. Ruth Badciong

 

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Replacing the signaled intersection at the corner of Highway 61 and Mankato Avenue with a roundabout is unnecessary and imprudent as it would remove an existing system that is efficient, effective, and safe for drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists alike.

Flow: The current configuration of traffic lights and arrows, pedestrian walk signals with a countdown feature, and painted lines makes it easy for drivers, bikers, and walkers alike to know when and where to stop and wait as well as when and where to go. In addition, the deceleration (right turn) lane takes the pressure off when leaving Kwik Trip in heavier traffic. Removing that bypass lane to construct a roundabout would further exacerbate the traffic backup, especially during heavier periods (which currently occur at multiple times throughout a given weekday not just during “rush hour”). I have counted 10 cars at a time approaching the intersection, not including the cars in line behind them. The stop light “schedule” allows for safer merging from the Kwik Trip lot unto Homer Road in both directions. I fear that the proposed roundabout would make leaving the Homer Road Kwik Trip a dangerous proposition. As a point of comparison, the Pleasant Valley roundabout at the intersection of Homer Road and Highway 17 — which replaced an intersection protected solely by one stop sign and no crosswalk and which has a bypass lane in each direction and a much lighter traffic flow — ends just feet before the entrance to the Pleasant Valley Church parking lot.

Crosswalks: As an avid walker, I am grateful for the crosswalk within the Pleasant Valley roundabout, especially since it is the first crosswalk to be placed in that intersection. However, I have noticed that drivers do not always stop for pedestrians who are on the boulevards between segments of the three-part crosswalk. I anticipate that this issue would be magnified were a similar multipart crosswalk to be built within the proposed Highway 61 roundabout. It has been stated that a roundabout is safer because vehicles move at slower speeds. While that may be true for drivers, as someone who has been struck by a slow-moving vehicle while walking across a driveway within a sidewalk, I would prefer to walk or walk my bike across a signaled crosswalk every time.

Lighting and weather: The traffic lights at Highway 61 and Mankato Avenue provide light to this very busy intersection day and night in all types of weather. I am concerned that the level of lighting would be greatly reduced should these lights be replaced by a roundabout. This is of particular concern for pedestrians and those walking bicycles through the intersection. Secondly, when the roads at a signaled intersection are plowed, the crosswalks are likewise opened. In contrast, when a roundabout is plowed, the crosswalks are plowed in and made inaccessible to pedestrians and bicyclists, especially those with disabilities or limited mobility.

The proposed roundabout will impact pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular travel for many residents of Ward 4, Precincts 3 and 4, and Wilson and Homer townships, including apartment dwellers, residents of Pleasant Valley and Valley Oaks subdivisions, worshippers at Pleasant Valley Church, and students at both Winona Middle School and Minnesota State College Southeast. I urge the Winona City Council to reject the proposed roundabout and encourage my neighbors who agree with me to make their voices known as well.

 

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