Schaumburg opens first roundabout, preparing two more
Schaumburg opens first roundabout, prepares two more
Schaumburg opened the first true roundabout in Northwest suburban Cook County just before Christmas, and while the village already is preparing two more, it remains to be seen how influential the idea will in surrounding communities.
Many area drivers would cite Cumberland Circle at the intersection of Golf and Wolf roads in Des Plaines as their first experience navigating a roundabout, but Schaumburg Transportation Director Karyn Robles said that circle doesn't meet the exact definition because a full stop is required at each of its five entrances.
In contrast, only yield signs stand at the four entrances to Schaumburg's roundabout at Plum Grove and Remington roads, a largely industrial area just north of Golf Road. The Schaumburg roundabout has only one lane, while Cumberland Circle has two.
Cumberland Circle is in the midst of a renovation that will make it more of a true roundabout, and others exist in Lake and McHenry counties, Robles said.
Schaumburg will open a second roundabout at Plum Grove Road and State Parkway in the spring, while a third at American Lane and National Parkway is under design and awaiting federal funding for construction.
Roundabouts have remained so rare in the suburbs mainly due to unfamiliarity leading to reluctance, Robles said.
"I think introducing new concepts is a challenge," she said. "We like to see these proved in other areas first."
Having previously worked in Carmel, Indiana, whose Mayor James Brainard became an advocate for roundabouts more than a decade ago, Robles said she became familiar with how well they can work.
And other Schaumburg officials like Police Chief Jim Lamkin cemented their support of the concept after visiting the Indianapolis suburb.
"Once people are used to it, I think it's a more efficient way to move traffic," Lamkin said.
In the first 10 days since the roundabout opened, there was only one call of an accident, not a significant rate for an intersection with those traffic levels, Lamkin said.
The village has been getting the word out via its website and social media, and signs posted at the intersection help make navigation of the roundabout largely instinctive and self-explanatory, both Lamkin and Robles believe.
During an early visit to the new roundabout, the driver ahead of her seemed to be unfamiliar but navigated it without error or significant hesitation, Robles said.
Feedback from drivers and nearby businesses has been largely positive, she said. In fact, virtually all the negative feedback came from people who hadn't been to the intersection but were hesitant about their ability to drive it, Robles said.
Crashes that do happen in roundabouts tend to be at lower speeds than at traditional intersections and are less likely to be T-bone collisions, she said.
The roundabout was specifically designed to accommodate the large amount of truck traffic that occurs in the industrial area, Robles said. Without a roundabout there, a longer stretch of Plum Grove Road would have had free-flowing traffic. And with the number of car dealerships in the area offering test drives, speed would be a greater concern, Robles said.
Lamkin thinks it possible Schaumburg's successful use of roundabouts could influence its neighbors. He previously had experience with them during his 23 years on Elgin's police force.
"I think we all learn from each other," he said. "I don't think any of this impossible for people to learn a different way."