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Lafayette Commission Approves Car-Centric Roundabout

Author: Bike East Bay

Date: December 12, 2015

Lafayette Circulation Commission approved the car-centric, pedestrian and bike UN-friendly design of a new roundabout at Pleasant Hill Road and Olympic Blvd. The Commission supported staff’s recommendation of extra car approach lanes, which function as right-turn yield lanes, but also squeeze out modern, comfortable accommodations for residents walking and bicycling. And the design is particularly dangerous for sight-impaired residents.

What you can do:

  1. Email your Lafayette City Council members and ask for three things:

    • Eliminate the extra approach lanes. Staff stated that single lane approaches will work from a traffic management perspective
    • Eliminate the dog-legged crosswak on the Pleasant Hill approach. A straight crosswalk works much better for bicycling and walking. And ask that bike crossings be added, that is separate but parallel bike crossings next to the pedestrian crosswalks. See image above.
    • staff release the traffic report done to date, and also that the report be updated to include a forecast of not just car traffic but also future pedestrian and bicycle traffic

The Project

This is a proposed design for a new roundabout at the intersection of Pleasant Hill Rd and Olympic Blvd (additional project renderings online here)

The double lane vehicle approaches from the east and north (from the right, and top shown here) are there to accommodate future traffic conditions at peak hour, not today’s traffic volumes, which can be handled with single lane approaches. People bicycling and walking get squeezed by added space for future commuters. 

For cost reasons, the project needs to stay within the boundaries of city roadways, and there is only so much room. Thus, the bike lane ends, requiring more confident riders to get out into traffic, and less confident residents to bicycle up on to a sidewalk, sharing it and a dog legged crosswalk with pedestrians, and dismounting if they want cars to yield. The bikeway design should be complete and well-designed throughout the roundabout.

  1. Read Bike East Bay’s letter to staff on the latest roundabout designs

A Better Design, proposed by Bike East Bay

A single lane approach for cars from all directions. This design works fine with traffic conditions and allows for a much safer design for bicycling, walking, and for people with a disability. Bike lanes extend around the outer portion of the roundabout, crosswalks and cross paths for bikes are provided straight across the approaches with no doglegs. Sidewalks can also be kept separated from bike lanes and be much wider to handle the growing number of people walking in the area, especially when the Olympic Blvd cycle track is completed, connecting the Lafayette-Moraga Trail with the Iron Horse Trail.

Planning Commission Support

The Lafayette Planning Commission voiced strong support for a better designed roundabout at its meeting on December 7. A majority of commissioners questioned the need for two vehicle lane approaches and asked for better bike lanes and safer pedestrian crossings.

Talking Points

  1. Two lane approaches for cars are more dangerous for pedestrians crossing

  2. Two lane approached for cars squeeze out a bike lane, like the protected bike lane shown above, which is needed for less experienced people and children bicycling, like the many kids who already bicycle through the intersection to school everyday

  3. As more and more people walk through this intersection, it is a bad idea for bikes to share a wide sidewalk with them–i.e. Pedestrians should not have to dodge bicycles while on a sidewalk

  4. Many Lafayette residents live east of this roundabout and have kids who bike to schools on the west side of the roundabout. The proposed design does not make their commute any safer, and in fact compromises their safety

  5. The extra vehicle lanes are not needed for current traffic conditions. Do not listen to the traffic engineer if he tells you they are. No traffic data has been released to warrant a 2nd approach lane.

  6. The two lane approach is complicated and confusing for drivers and will require all kinds of additional signage and clutter for direction

  7. People with a disability will struggle to used the roundabout due to all of the added pedestrian crossings, which will have no audible or visual queues


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