Editorial: Traffic circles a good addition to our Cowichan communities

There are those who grumble about the traffic circles that have been installed.

Traffic circles, or as they’re often called, roundabouts, have been a boon everywhere they’ve been installed in our communities in the Cowichan Valley.

The most proactive municipality in having them installed in place of traffic lights or four-way stops has been North Cowichan, but this week we reported about the very first one proposed for the City of Duncan.

This new traffic circle is proposed to be built at the intersection of Cairnsmore Street, Government Street and College Street, and we think it will be a terrific new addition to Cowichan’s inventory.

There are those who grumble about the traffic circles that have been installed. People object to everything from the cost (less than traffic lights, folks) to their belief that people don’t know how to use them properly (the complainer is never included in this group, we’ve noticed).

And while there are still those who aren’t certain about their operation, these are not convincing arguments against them, in the end. Because they work. Really, really well. Anyone remember the three-way intersection at Lakes Road before the roundabout went in? Sitting at those stop signs (and people don’t know how to properly use those, either, it must be said) was no picnic. Ditto at the top of Sherman, or the entry to Chemainus.

Yes, sometimes one still does have to come to a stop at the entry to a traffic circle, but the amount of time spent stopped beats a light or a busy four-way stop in a walk, and often there is no stopping at all, as traffic circles are designed to keep traffic flowing. They’re pretty good at traffic calming as well, as they force people to slow down.

They are also a much more beautiful addition to the roadway than a standard traffic light. The plants and landscaping provide colour and nature in the middle of the sea of pavement in a most cheering manner. This also helps to clear the air of exhaust fumes — at least a little.

We’ll take a traffic circle any day.

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