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Your UCP: National October 13, 2003
Travel

Accessible Destinations & Transportation

Research Completed on Traffic Roundabouts and Pedestrians with Visual Impairments

The Access Board funds a number of research projects each year to study various aspects of accessibility in relation to architecture, communications, and transportation. These projects gather information that is useful to the Board in developing guidelines and providing technical assistance to the public. The Board recently completed projects on traffic roundabouts and bathroom design. Reports from these projects are, or soon will be, available on the Board's Web site at www.access-board.gov or by calling (800) 872-2253 (voice) or (800) 993-2822 (TTY). A project currently underway on accessible play surfaces is due to be completed later this year.

Research Completed on Traffic Roundabouts and Pedestrians with Visual Impairments

A growing trend in roadway design favors continuous-flow roundabouts over traditional signalized intersections. While their design varies widely, roundabouts typically feature a circulatory roadway around a central island. Entering traffic yields to vehicles already in the circle. Increasingly popular in the U.S. because they add vehicle capacity and reduce delay, roundabouts are a common feature in Europe and Australia. Studies suggest a lower incidence of serious vehicle crashes, but researchers have not considered the safety of pedestrians--in particular those who have vision impairments--in their investigations. Because crossing at a roundabout requires a pedestrian to visually select a safe gap between cars that may not stop, accessibility has been problematic.

A research project sponsored by the Board at the Department of Blind Rehabilitation at Western Michigan University assessed these issues in depth and provides recommendations for design improvements that benefit people with vision impairments. Recommendations contained in the project report, Modern Roundabouts: Access by Blind Pedestrians, address the location of cross walks, roadway design, use of traffic signals, provision of tactile warnings, and other topics. The Access Board will use this information in developing guidance material and proposed guidelines for public rights-of-way.

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