Motorists and cyclists could both benefit from cycling roundabouts

Motorists and cyclists could both benefit from cycling roundabouts

A street bike rider could save almost a thousand lives if streets were paved with roundabouts built from recycled tyres, according to researchers.

The top layer of the new rubber built from recycled used rubber tyres could provide strong enough carriageway for cyclists to avoid road hazards, such as potholes.

People have been using roundabouts to manage traffic for years, but they are often the cause of chaos when they break down - and researchers hope to eliminate that problem.

Motorists have claimed roundabouts breed road rage, are dangerous and difficult to manoeuvre, but the extra area saved by a bicycle-free passage could allow more people to use the road.

Researchers are attempting to tackle road safety concerns about the high number of cyclists killed or seriously injured in accidents with roundabouts, and they have set out to prove just how much of a difference they could make by testing on existing routes in Los Angeles, Arizona and Brooklyn, New York.

The new installation, called the Bike Roadway, is made from the ultra-strong synthetic rubber called DuPont Freesheet, which is already widely used in infrastructure.

Cameras attached to it recorded that while cyclists could negotiate a complete loop, they had more trouble making the turn right, a turn left, roundabouts with cyclocross-style changing zones are less difficult to negotiate than roundabouts with a straight-on one, and cyclists need to address smaller areas of roadways rather than whole gaps.

There are already more than 100 km worth of roundabouts on the roads between Los Angeles and Chicago, and more than 50,000 kilometers of the structures globally.

And since the early 1990s, roundabouts were found to be nearly three times safer than traffic lights, and nearly double the safe margins of protection for cyclists and pedestrians.

It is hoped that their construction would also be good for the environment by limiting the use of fossil fuels to clear the roundabouts of debris, and saving a lot of energy and millions of dollars.

Bike Roadway replaced over 10 miles of the existing Santa Monica bikeway at the end of 2019 and over 16 miles of the three main bikeways within the city of Los Angeles.

Bike Roadway is made from the ultra-strong synthetic rubber called DuPont Freesheet, which is already widely used in infrastructure

New technology has given experts new ways to build tougher roads, preventing potholes and preventing traffic chaos with traffic jams.

Alf-Rasa Niukasa, co-founder of the company Flat Road, said the 'Bike Roadway' idea was first conceived in 2013, while he was working at the US Department of Transportation.

He said: 'People felt that the use of roundabouts hadn't been altered or complemented enough in our communities to make them an option for cyclists and pedestrians.'

'These roads are no longer beautiful 'parallel streets' in the U.S. but get treated by natural light with bike paths or flow to accommodate all modes of transportation, including pedestrians,' he said.

'This increasing use is widening the gap between bike and pedestrian trails and the road side, but without any signage.

'We're trying to bridge this gap by creating a pioneering prototype bike lane system that connects with existing cycle tracks.'

This took 15 engineers and designer, engineers, architects, and mapmakers over two years to create the ultimate form, said the researchers.

The World Health Organisation says roundabouts cause more road injuries than any other form of street lighting or traffic management.

They said: 'We can definitely save lives and reduce the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured with bike-heavy systems, but it will take 5 to 10 years of trial and error before the entire cycling community will accept this technology.'

Learn more at Daily San Francisco

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