Nearly four years ago, I wrote in this space about difficulties in navigating traffic circles. I referred specifically to the nearly new (at that time) roundabout at the intersection of Hwy. 46 (aka Bluffton Road) and the Bluffton Parkway.
“It seems so easy,” I wrote. “It’s a simple circle. Why, then, is it causing so many near-crashes?”
It was then, and is now, a huge improvement for what used to be an intersection with two stop signs, where drivers previously were forced to wait eons for a break in traffic, then quickly zoom across, hoping not to get T-boned.
But more improvements are needed.
Apparently Town staff and a Beautification Committee have been working on that. They had plans to add trees and other foliage, lights and signs. They want to make the circle prettier and more visible. If the visibility causes drivers to slow down, it should make the circle safer.
It was recently reported that the S.C. Department of Transportation, which owns the roadway, has nixed many of their plans.
So now, how about we make the circle safer by redesigning it?
I’ve lost count of how many times I have narrowly avoided being hit by another car, usually one cutting me off where I want to exit. If you drive the circle regularly, you very likely have been in similar situations.
I maintain- nearly four years after my diatribe here – that the directional signs for lane usage are wrong. And by that, I mean unsafe.
As marked, drivers in the outside, or right, lane may turn at either of the next two exit “spurs.” Drivers in the inside, or left, lane may turn right at the second or third exits.
What often happens, though, is that a driver in the right lane wants to turn at the second spur, but a guy just ahead of him in the left lane wants to turn at the previous exit. Crash!
And if I am in the inside lane and going to the third exit, and the woman in the outside lane just before my turn wants to go two turns, what can happen? Crash!
I haven’t even mentioned those [idiots] who randomly change lanes the entire way around the circle.
Those squiggly lines on the signs are confusing, to say the least. Many drivers new to the area have no idea what they’re supposed to do. And some local drivers have decided it’s okay to race through to get to their destination. (These people apparently are much more important and busier than the rest of us.)
Wouldn’t it be simpler – and certainly safer – if cars in the outside lane were forced to exit at the very next spur? That would leave the inner circle for left-lane drivers to navigate without worrying about cutting off someone in their path.
I must report that when I first mentioned this solution, I received more than a few emails supporting the idea.
I know some folks in Bluffton don’t like comparisons to Hilton Head Island, but let’s just note that their Sea Pines Circle, which accommodates hundreds of thousands of cars annually, works very well. At the entrances to the circle, the right and left lanes are divided by concrete islands.
Couldn’t the DOT afford to install four simple concrete dividers?
And maybe then the Town staff and the Beautification Committee could plant some pretty shrubs and flowers, and life would be good. And to work, school and home would be a heck of a lot safer.