Roundabouts a great road improvement

Chemainus – It must be spring. Just like the NHL playoffs, Vancouver Island’s season of roundabout-bashing has started up again for another year (Other views, March 26). This is nothing new of course. Local roundaphobes and traffic light huggers have been taking pot shots at this innovation ever since North Cowichan announced plans for its first traffic circles nearly 10 years ago. It is one thing to complain about the cost of these circles and to question where some of them are placed.

However, I think it’s absurd to suggest they are obstacles to the free flow of traffic, or “concrete planter(s)…for unsuspecting drivers and snowplows…”

If there are any real obstacles on our local arterial roads, it is the proliferation of stop-controlled intersections outside North Cowichan that often create traffic jams.

By all means, let’s have more bike lanes, but they don’t have to be at the expense of other road improvements. If circular intersections are “make work projects” to some, then so be it.

The economy has been more-orless in recession since the stock market crash of 1987.

When times are tough, capital projects are a good way to get people back to work.

On the short term, building a roundabout creates more jobs and injects more cash into the local economy than throwing up a few stop signs or traffic lights.

Circles are also better for the environment and the economy on the long term because they help reduce wasted fuel and air pollution caused by idling engines.

Vancouver Island jurisdictions have a long history of underspending on transportation in order to find favour with those who don’t like to pay for improvements.

Some of the results have been fiascos like the Duncan strip, the Malahat Drive, our largely unused rail line, and the entire BC Ferries system.

I think North Cowichan is trying to reverse this trend and plan for the future, even if it means making some road mobility improvements in areas that don’t seem to need it just yet.

We can be sure that traffic volumes along Drinkwater Road and Beverly Street will increase with ongoing urbanization.

Meanwhile, local opponents to transportation progress should beware.

After years of procrastination, it looks like the City of Duncan could be the next local municipality to incorporate the roundabout into its transportation strategy.

Chris Carss

Chemainus www.cowichanvalleycitizen.com