Neighborhood’s first traffic circle installed at 23rd & Anza

The new traffic circle at the intersection of 23rd and Anza

If you’ve driven down Anza recently, you may have come across a new traffic calming project that was installed at the intersection of 23rd Avenue – a traffic circle, sometimes referred to as a roundabout (in Massachusetts they’re called rotaries).

Traffic circles are installed to slow traffic at an intersection. Traffic moves in one direction only around the circle – in our case, counterclockwise – and they are installed in lieu of traffic signals or stop signs.

This kind of traffic calming tactic is more commonly seen in Europe (perhaps you may have circled the Arc de Triomphe a few times while driving there on vacation… 😉 ).

It’s the first in the neighborhood as far as we know, and as a result is taking some getting used to by drivers. One resident saw a car turn the wrong direction around the circle to expedite their left turn, and while taking photos, I observed most drivers coming to a complete stop before entering the intersection.

This new traffic circle is part of the SFMTA’s larger traffic calming project for the Central Richmond, which is detailed here.

According to the project plan (PDF), traffic circles are also planned for Lake Street at 3rd, 5th, 7th, 8th, 10th, 11th, 17th, 21st, and 24th Avenues.

“Traffic circles along Anza and Lake Street will slow vehicles within intersections and lead to slower, steadier speeds throughout the corridor,” writes the SFMTA in the plan.

Funding is secured for traffic circles at the 17th, 21st, and 24th Avenue intersections of Lake, but future funding will be required to install them at the other intersections.

Have you driven through the new traffic circle? What did you think of it? Are you looking forward to having more of them in the neighborhood? Leave a comment to let us know.

Sarah B.


  1. Folx didn’t know what to do at this intersection to begin with, with the roundabout I suspect only more confusion will ensue and don’t be surprised if more accidents will result. What? Was it not more cost effective to install 2 more stop signs? My hope is that time will prove me wrong!

  2. As a runner, I always hated crossing Anza at this intersection — cars go flying through since they have a stretch without a stop sign Every other intersection on 23rd has a 4-way stop. This roundabout will definitely help slow traffic down & favor pedestrians trying to cross, but I’m curious so see how drivers in this neighborhood will react. They already barely know how to drive! It will be funny to observe for a long time to come.

  3. It would be much easier and cheaper to install stop signs, like Cee said. Why make it complicated for drivers, keep it simple.

  4. The advantage is, if there’s no-one else at the intersection, you don’t have to stop, as you would at a 4-way. And anything that slows down traffic on the Lake St. Expressway is fine with me.

  5. …it seems the rich folks on Lake are throwing their weight around once again…

  6. Living near the intersection, all I can say is Thank God. At least once or twice a day there’s the sound of a car’s breaks screeching and horns honking because of a near accident caused by somebody flying down Anza. As for confusion about the traffic circle, it’s not the complicated

  7. I LOVE IT.

    Once people realize how to use a traffic circle (slow down and continue vs stop), it’s a much quicker, better driving experience. Drivers like me can now experience legally what bikers experience illegally: running stop signs.

    People need to learn the concept and they’ll realize why it’s better.

  8. didnt they try this on page street, then remove them because it made things worse?

  9. Grrrr. I wouldn’t need to be calmed if i could just get where I need/want to go. Stop signs, traffic circles, lights at every block, clueless pedestrians txt’ing. I sound like a loony as I write this but, I’m not. Does anyone realize that stopping a car nearly every block burns more gas and is not green! There is a reason why federally posted Highway mileage is bettern than City mileage– usually 3-5% better. We could chop 3-5% of every oil tanker coming in the Golden Gate– That is significant! Accelerating a car from a stop has a real price over and over and over again. Not just time. My point is…. keep traffic moving. It’s greener and more calming– therefore safer. Cars are not going away. Do not treat us like 2nd class citizens. I just want to get to work and get home so I can pay my taxes and enjoy the city.

  10. The big problem I had when they tried this on Page St. was that cars wouldn’t stop for me as they are supposed to when I was trying to cross the street. Before installing traffic circles, they have to do a massive educational outreach so everyone understands that they have to stop if a pedestrian is crossing.

  11. Uh, that’s whole point– avoiding unnecessary stops.

    And turning every street into a highway to get 3-5% better mileage does not sound like a good idea. If a degraded pedestrian experience results in 3-5% more driving, your savings vanish.

    I am cautiously optimistic about this project.

  12. I don’t like it. RoundAbout belongs to bigger intersections. It’s a waste of money. Really, how much does it cost to put one of these and the upkeep after you decorate it with plants? Did you see what they planted along 19th Ave, Aloe Vera plants, covered in dust and dying. We will have either overgrown plants or dying plants. Can we better use City funds, like bumps or something to slow people down. I’m waiting for a drunk driver to barrel into it. I hope it will have plenty of deflectors at night. Paint it neon color. I saw this guy riding around and around and around this thing. I bet you he enjoyed it.

  13. JR, you don’t sound like a loony at all. It’s common sense.
    How many cars travel on Lake every day? If it’s 5 per minute each way, about 16 hours per day (ignoring nights), than it’s about 10,000 cars per day, or more than 3,000,000 cars per year. It’s a ballpark number, but I think I’m pretty close.
    So if we add only one unnecessary stop sign on Lake that would force 3,000,000 extra cycles of acceleration from 0 to 25-30 mph every year. How much gas would it waste? How much extra emissions would be pumped into the air? How much time would be collectively wasted?

    These roundabouts are better, since they do not require cars to come to a complete stop unless necessary. I hope they will replace some of the stop signs… but it looks like the plan is to add them to the intersections without stops. Oh, well…

  14. If a drunk driver barrels into it, great. Then they can be arrested and lose their license. We shouldn’t be designing our streets to cater to the needs of drunk drivers, after all.

  15. “Once people realize how to use a traffic circle (slow down and continue vs stop), it’s a much quicker, better driving experience.”

    Sure because we’ve all learned to come to a full-and-complete stop at stop signs, to pay attention to when a street doesn’t have a traffic control instead of stopping at every intersection because one assumes there’s a stop sign, using our garages to park our cars and not as storage units, merging at 15th and Geary….you get my point

  16. “Traffic calming” is an oxymoron. You can’t calm people by annoying them. Call it what it is – an obstacle.

    From the looks of these pictures, anybody trying to drive straight through on Anza now has to veer around this obstacle into the crosswalk across 23rd. And to make a left turn, you’ll have to pass through all 4 crosswalks. If the intent is to reduce car / pedestrian collisions, this would seem to do the opposite.

    The fact that this sort of obstacle is something most Americans outside of New England have never seen makes it all the more dangerous.

    How long are those ugly barricades going to be needed? After a few months, the locals will be educated, but as soon as barriers are removed there are going to be accidents when those that are unfamiliar collide with the low curb of this ill-conceived obstacle.

    As an example – the Great Highway near the Beach Chalet. There’s a concrete island with two reflective signs warning north-bound traffic of the island. Or at least there were two signs until it rained. When the right lane of the north-bound side was coned off, the sign on right side of the island was knocked out almost immediately. Concrete islands do not belong in the path of traffic, whether it’s a temporary re-routing of traffic (Great Highway) or permanent (Anza or Lake).

    And by the way, WHEN are they going to properly fix that drainage problem that cones off the right lane of north-bound Great Highway every time it rains. It was finally fixed last year after many many years, and is already failing.

  17. Surprised to see that so many people think the general populous is too stupid to figure this out.

    People crash into concrete barriers because they are drunk. Better than running up onto the sidewalk and plowing into the myriad runners, Beach Chalet patrons, etc that walk along Great Highway.

    The traffic circle is designed to slow down local traffic, meaning people that drive through there every day at 50 mph because they know there are half a dozen blocks with no stop signs. This is a good compromise to slow people down without installing stop sights every block.

    There is plenty of room. Compare the parked cars to the space in the street. There is plenty of gap where people won’t be driving through four crosswalks to make a turn.

  18. Sure because we’ve all learned to come to a full-and-complete stop at stop signs, to pay attention to when a street doesn’t have a traffic control instead of stopping at every intersection because one assumes there’s a stop sign, using our garages to park our cars and not as storage units, merging at 15th and Geary

    One of those things is not like the others…

  19. Thanks for the Massachusetts rotaries mention! I grew up and learned to drive there. If you can merge in and out of a rotary with Massholes whizzing by you and snow coming down, you can drive ANYWHERE. They keep traffic flowing much better than lights/stop signs in most cases. However, they’re mostly used in getting on/off highways or transitioning from one main road to another. They don’t really exist in the context we use them in the Bay Area (for traffic slowing in urban residential areas).

  20. I think it’s good to try a few different things. I wish people would be less resistant to change. An odd behavior that I often see in the outer richmond, mostly on Balboa and Anza: vehicles, often big SUV’s, making wide U-turns in the middle of an intersection. I’ve learned to expect it. When not expecting it, it’s very disconcerting, because the U-turner pulls to the right just before making a left. Always feels like I’m about to be hit as I pass.

    Not sure, but hoping a traffic circle will make this case safer. Seems like everyone will be doing a wide circle, so going straight, i would be following the U-turner, with no chance of him hitting me as he crosses left.

    JR, you may not sound crazy, but you do sound impatient and irritable. Cities have lots of people, so we live with lots of compromises. No, we can’t just drive quickly through areas with no negative impacts. Speed for your car means danger for pedestrians. Long green lights on one road mean long red lights on another. So why keep complaining? I would love a quick extensive system like the Paris Metro, but it won’t happen in SF.

  21. Agree with Ron. @JR: “Grrrrr. I wouldn’t need to be calmed if I could just get where I want/need to go….”

    A traffic circle–or stop signs on every corner–will not prevent you from going where you “want/ need to go,” JR. What’s implied in your comment is that these impediments will make it more difficult for you to get where you want to go *as fast as you want to get there.* Your comment is honest and, I think, a common sentiment, and reveals a sense of entitlement that stresses out those of us hoping to get where *we* want to get without getting hit or injured by an impatient jerk who is late for work or some other unimportant reason in the big scheme of things. We didn’t used to have stop signs on every corner, JR, but with more people in cars driving through the Richmond, we started having more accidents–car, pedestrian, and bike. With that, we got more stop signs and, on Fulton, more traffic signals for those who drove on Fulton as if it were Hwy 101. Golden Gate Park and streets in the Richmond are not speedways. Unfortunately, when too many impatient, entitled drivers do not drive defensively and considerately, we get more rules, restrictions , and attempts by the city to prevent more injury and even death. I’m willing to give traffic circles a try. If you want other people to just get out of your way, maybe you should move to a less populated area where you can speed along the road for miles, unhindered, to get where you want to go as fast

  22. I’m not against traffic circles (have tooled around the one at the beginning of Taraval Street for years and years), but I was pretty surprised this intersection was identified as needing one. I live a block and a half away on Anza and I never had any problems with speeding vehicles or near-misses (although reading the above, it sounds like some people have?).

    It’s a pretty tight space for the size of the oval and I’ll be interested in seeing if there are any accidents as people try to navigate at the corners.

    Anyway, we’ll all adapt and perhaps a few of us can adopt the space so it won’t be weed-and-garbage infested?

    And I am of course, all for the Doggie Diner head:


  23. I love roundabouts. They are good for gas milage, because you do not come to a full stop, then accelerate (also more quiet for the neighborhood). They are safer than a stop sign, because the traffic is one way around them. As far as pedestrians are concerned, the traffic will be moving slower and coming from only one direction, so it will be safer. Right of way laws for pedestrians will still apply. Small roundabouts work well on less busy streets.

  24. You need to get your circular intersections straight 😉 If you want to see the difference between a traffic circle, a rotary (UK roundabout) and a modern roundabout, search http://www.k-state.edu to see pictures. If the entries are controlled by yield signs and large trucks can drive over the circular island, it might be a mini-roundabout, otherwise it’s a neighorhood traffic circle (and in Seattle they are allowed to turn left in front of such things).

  25. there are dozens/hundreds of these in the neighborhoods in vancouver, canada. basically, they work exactly as planned here: slowing traffic flow at intersections without stopping traffic unless necessary. as a bonus, they’re often quite pretty, with landscaping or sculpture or whatever. it’d probably never happen, but i’d love to see them on nob and russian hills.

  26. I’ll be leading a bike ride (non-athletic and mellow) around the Richmond District this Saturday to look at various street changes that have taken place (or are planned) in the northwest corner of town, we’ll talk about the 40-year history of “traffic calming” and “protected neighborhoods”, a bumpy ride for sure (lots of controversy back in the early ’70s out here where these new changes are happening) — come along and we’ll look at this stuff together, and see what we think:


  27. Just drove around this yesterday. Not really sure what to think of it.
    A: I believe it’s too big, and may cause drivers going a bit too fast to enter the side crosswalks.
    B: People really aren’t used to this kind of thing.
    C: High cost to the city… ie: us.
    D: Better for gas consumption than a stop sign.

    Not sure if the positives outway the negatives in this case. The cost would be interesting to find out.
    Reminds me of all of those yellow bumpy curve ramps the city installed. That was A LOT of work… was it worth it? I seriously doubt it.

  28. Are they serious about these Lake st roundabouts? There are already stop signs at 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15, 19, 21 if memory serves me correct. And now with roundabouts at 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 17, 21, and 24th Avenues we will have some sort of intervention at every single intersection other than the poor folks at 14, 16, 18, 20 and 23. Lest we forget the ‘gateway’ at Funston (13th) and Lake too.

    I seriously hope this is not happening. The road construction alone will be a disaster.

  29. I live a block up from this and I have mixed feelings about it. The major problem I find is that Anza street is way too wide!!! Look at the pictures and compare that with the side streets (the avenues).
    Before the circle, when Anza had the right of way, people would come out from 23rd Ave by edging their car out slowly, and then lo and behold, somebody driving at 40 mph would coming roaming down Anza street because of no stop signs causing the driver on 23rd to step on the brakes. So, in that sense a traffic stop is helpful.
    With the new circle, there is still a problem! There needs to be 4 stops for everyone entering the circle. Here’s why, suppose you are entering the circle on 22nd. You stopped and see no car, so you proceed into the circle. Now all of the sudden a car come billowing REALLY fast on Anza because there is no stop sign, remember you are in the circle, so do you continue to go or does this car now entering the circle on Anza have right of way? There is going to be a collision of 2 cars in the circle.
    I was driving on Dewey today and their circles all have 4 way stops.
    I am going to bet money on it that 1) a drunk or ignorant driver will drive right through the circle. 2) There will be accidents within the circle of car collision because cars entering on Anza technically will ALWAYS have right of way based on the current ill-design. 3) A pedestrian who is crossing on 23rd will be hit because parked cars are in the way and because drivers from Anza think that they have right of way.
    The solution to the problem: Get RID of the circle and make it a 4-way stop!!! All that money spent for nothing. Didn’t they learn from Page street??!!

  30. You can’t ‘blow through’ a traffic circle. Under normal circumstances speeds around them are about 20 mph. Most states give the right of way to vehicles in the circular roadway, if this qualifies as a modern roundabout.

  31. I think the round abouts are a great solution to four way stops.

  32. I’m actually finding it a little harder to cross this intersection as a pedestrian. It seems like the drivers are so focused on this unexpected obstacle, they are not paying attention to people trying to walk across.

    I’ve also been surprised by how many confused drivers I’ve witnessed in the intersection — stopping and starting like they don’t know what to do, going around the wrong way to turn left, etc. I didn’t think it would be that complicated, but I guess drivers in the neighborhood aren’t used to navigating these things. That should smooth out over time though, I assume…

  33. @ScottRab – More than the existing, giant white striping in each crosswalk?

    Sarah B.

  34. James Li –

    So, if the roundabout wasn’t there it would be okay for a guy to blow .219 and drive 64 mph through a residential neighborhood and run a stop sign? I’m not sure where the traffic circle figures into this as a problem or fault. Drink driving accidents are 100% the fault of the drunk driver, every time.

    Note that the article states he hit the circle *then* rammed into a tree. And as I mention, there’s a stop sign on north/south traffic on that street. If the traffic circle wasn’t there he would have hit something/someone else eventually. There is no tree in the middle of this traffic circle.

    That article is one of the worst arguments against traffic circles that you could have possibly cited.

  35. Sober people are almost as capable of doing stupid things as drunk drivers.

    This obstacle is way out of the norm for both sober people and drunk people.

    Sober people have more difficulty seeing the road and obstacles at night than they do during the day. Sober people have more difficulty when it’s raining. Sober people have even more difficulty when its raining at night and they are presented with an unexpected, non-standard obstacle.

    Sober people may hit the obstacle, they may overcompensate when they swerve to avoid it. There may be some unlucky pedestrian or car in the way when they swerve. I imagine that it wouldn’t be hard to flip a car with this obstacle or when oversteering around it. Now pedestrians have to contend with the unpredictable path of a car moving through the air. At least a car speeding through a normal intersection behaves more predictably.

    Sober people’s headlights driving down Anza may not illuminate a pedestrian in the 23rd street crosswalk with enough lead time to avoid killing the pedestrian. Headlights point forward, not sideways.

    Sober people are capable of distracted driving, whether it’s a legal, heated conversation with somebody else in the car, or illegal texting, etc.

    I agree with howardtaft. I have a hard time believing that the positives outweigh the negatives of this design for this type of site.

  36. Ugh, if we could only get the police department to stop using Anza as a speedway! I live at a corner with a stop sign, and all I hear is the quick stop, the jamming press of pedal-to-the-metal and then the jarring blast of a loud engine just roaring through to get to the next corner. And it’s a cop car every time, so frustrating!

  37. I’m a bit confused, do they plan to remove the current stop signs that are in place on north/south bound 23rd ave. (they were there an hour or so ago), when the project is complete, or are those going to remain?

  38. “Sober people are capable of distracted driving…”

    ‘Because distracted drivers might crash into it’ is another terrible reason to be against traffic circles.

    I’m well aware that sober people are capable of crashing into things, but as you so eloquently spell out, it’s usually people that are not in the act of driving that crash into things. Believe me, if you’re texting and you catch air off this thing (which would be sweet) and your insurance company doesn’t pay out and raises your rates, you better believe you’re going to be a safer driver from that point on.

    I drove by this intersection today (sober) and I’m happy to report that I was given safe passage by the traffic circle gods. I even turned left without incident. It was fun. And you know what? I slowed down when I got there, just like I’m supposed to, and just like this thing was designed to make me do. Success!

    By the way, by having to ‘swerve’ around the circle, it will take people longer to drive across this intersection, which will actually give people more time to cross the street. Even people turning right will have to slow down because they won’t be able to swing as wide. This sounds like a plus.

    People talk like they think this thing will have a 10 foot high hedge in it. It won’t. Whether in a car or on foot you’ll still have plenty of visibility when going through the intersection, just like you do now. There’s no magic aura around the traffic circle that will suddenly make pedestrians invisible.

  39. Traffic circles (roundabouts) are a way of life in Australia. When a friend of mine moved there a dozen years ago, her heart was in her throat the first few times she negotiated the turns, taking her place among self-assured drivers. Now, she thinks traffic circles are fantastic. This is anecdotal info, I realize, but during my two months there, I didn’t find one person who thought they were a nuisance. C’mon, folks. Let’s keep an open mind about this and give it a fair try. Sure there will be confusion at first. Might even be accidents along the way. There are accidents at 4-way stops, because more than one driver thinks he or she has the right-of-way. Only time and statistics will tell if these traffic circles are an improvement over what we have now. Let’s wait and see.

  40. Modern roundabouts, as a rule, are yield control on all entries. Neighborhood traffic circles can have a variety of intersection controls. In Portland, OR, the current traffic control is normally left in place, this includes some odd locations with all-way stops. Portland has many traffic circles, but only two modern roundabouts, and one mini-roundabout at a T intersection that is all-way yield controlled.

  41. We can do it everyone! Circles are shown to improve safety without forcing everyone to come to a stop at every intersection. I’d rather see more circles than a city full of 4-way stops, which people roll through anyway because of how absurdly much we rely on them as a traffic control strategy. We are capable of learning a simple new maneuver, of driving with a bit of awareness, of paying attention and acting reasonably. Circles encourage this sort of behavior. If we say we cannot do this, that’s kinda sad.

  42. Looks great!! Thank you for making our streets safer and our variety of city traffic flow better.

  43. My only concern is that Lake has such nice bike lanes that make it easy for cars and bikes to share the road. These traffic circles would require cars to swerve into the bike lane, right? Even that little island / break added near Lake & 14th causes cars heading west to swerve into the bike lane. Not a huge deal and I sure folks will figure it out, but I always liked the wide bike lanes on lake. It felt relatively safe for kids, etc. I am curious to see how these circles impact them.

    I am cautiously supportive. But worry that at the end of the day, these will be a bit different, but not really better / safer. Wonder how much they cost.

  44. Is there any traffic rule that requires that someone exit from a traffic circle? Couldn’t someone just drive round and round until they ran out of gas (or electric)? Just waitin to see that happen here in crazy San Francisco.

  45. I agree with Jeff. These circles on lake will be hazzard. One of the streets (3rd I think) is only a 3 way intersection. And several others have manholes in the middle of the intersection. I can’t believe this is actually happening. On top of the fact that drivers will be swerving into the bike lanes; you will most likely need to eliminate 4 parking spots on the corners @ each intersection. That little jog out on 14th street is already dangerous and ill conceived; not to mention the fact that this is also a parking spot for the poor suckers getting caught by the CHP speed trap / revenue generator.

    Personally, and I’m sure I’m in the minority, but I secretly wish it was legal to roll through a stop sign if there is no opposing traffic. Or just put traffic lights on every block timed to 25 mph. Works on Pine St.

  46. Andy: “poor suckers” getting caught speeding? There’s a brilliant way to avoid it: STOP SPEEDING!

  47. “just put traffic lights on every block timed to 25 mph”
    Exactly. Make Anza eastbound one-way street, and Clement west-bound one-way, timed at 25 mph.
    That would make save a lot of time and fuel, free up Geary for public transit and bikes, be good for the environment and safer for the pedestrians (if you take into account the reduction of traffic on Geary).
    I don’t see any disadvantage of doing that.

  48. @bear: Anza is not a commercial district. I doubt that you would save much time at all by making Clement a 1-way street in either direction, because it is an extremely hectic commercial district, with cars and trucks frequently double-parking, pedestrians crossing at crosswalks or jaywalking, bicycle riders, etc. The only advantage I can think of is it would be easier to make a left turn off of Clement.

  49. Very ill-concieved and implemented. Certainly don’t remember seeing any public notice about the imminent installation, so who gets to decide where these go? The money would have been better spent on a few more stop signs, or perhaps a speed hump.

    People unfamiliar with this type of obstacle will inevitably have difficulty with this one. Forcing traffic to veer into the crosswalk is an utterly stupid design. And the fact that is is poorly signed is even worse. The tiny diagrammed sign does not really convey fully the function of the traffic circle. It could certainly benefit from some reflective paint, as when it rains, it’s virtually impossible to see.

    Yes, locals may get used to it, but that’s not how traffic planning is supposed to work. Planning is suppose to make the flow as easy as possible by leaving as little decision as possible to the driver.

  50. So many junior traffic engineers. Apart from signals costing about $250k a pop, which we can’t afford at every intersection, one-way streets are inherently faster and couplets cause more traffic circulation (emissions) due to the hunt for parking.
    TP, perhaps you are confused about roadway heirarchy. Some roads are to move autos, some are to move non-autos and some are in between. I think you will find that many things become more visible when you slow down and respect the local neighborhood you’re driving through. I suppose you’ll be the first in line for an autonomous car, since you don’t wish the burden of thinking while driving.

  51. “Planning is suppose to make the flow as easy as possible by leaving as little decision as possible to the driver.”

    Except when they’re deciding to stop at a red light or not. Or gun it through a yellow. Or use a turn signal. Or where to park. Or turn. Or yield. Or merge. Or …

    Driving is nothing but decisions, constant streams of them. If you want to be part of a civilized driving society, then look at the road when you drive and don’t plow into the traffic circle.

    Seriously, claiming that traffic circles are confusing is kind of off the charts. Just the name ‘traffic circle’ is enough for most of us to figure out what to do. Even if you’ve never seen one, it’s pretty obvious what to do when you get to one. ‘Don’t run into it.’.

  52. ‘Don’t run into it.’.

    Simple enough if you see it. Here’s what I worry about:

    1) Big ugly barriers are eventually removed

    2) Somebody will knock down the reflective sign on one or more sides, either a vandal, or somebody driving, possibly impaired by darkness, rain, distraction, windshield glare from sun or headlights, or any combination of the 4.

    3) Everybody after this won’t see it, and there will be lots of accidents. This sort of thing just isn’t something anybody around here is used to or expecting in the middle of the road.

    So unless damaged signs are immediately replaced, this is a dumb idea. And even then, it’s still a pretty dumb idea.

    I still maintain that a car traveling in a straight path is more predictable and safer for everybody than a car that has to deviate from that straight line in unpredictable ways.

  53. Hard to understand the debate in the comments on the safety merits of a modern roundabout. They’ve been pretty well studied and been shown to reduce accidents by ~25% and fatal accidents by even more.

    They’re also not terribly expensive…about the same as putting in traffic lights but with much lower maintenance costs.

    I wish all of the annoying stop signs every block in the Richmond could be replaced by these roundabouts. The neighborhood would look so much nicer and be much safer.

  54. By the logic of the ‘people won’t see it because it’s not normal’ camp, you’d think we’d hear about jaywalkers getting plowed into more often than we do. There are plenty of pedestrian-based obstacles that pop out at random times and we normal drivers tend to see them and not plow into them. Drive down Fulton at about 6:30pm and I guarantee you you’ll have to watch out for at least two or three groups of people wandering into the street without looking for traffic. And they wander out at random times at random corners! What an impossible situation for drivers to manage!

    And yet, we as a society persist.

  55. Fix the potholes. Enough of this wasting of money on BS projects.

  56. Great idea!

    BUT: Why is the center circle so damn big? It’s much wider in diameter than it needs to be.

    AND: Why haven’t the stop signs on 23rd Avenue been removed? That’s why people keep stopping… and of course that prevents people from learning the traffic circle.

  57. BobbittyBob, don’t ya know that potholes are traffic calming measures? 🙂

    I have no real problems with traffic circles, especially since many drivers on Anza and the ave’s treat them as suggestion as they train for the remake of Bullitt. However, for this particular roundabout, I do wonder (like others) about pedestrian safety since it is tight on a few sides. I do hope that once the temp signs are removed they do some reflective striping on it. Right now, without the signs, this dark bump will be hard to see at night.

  58. Finally! Roundabouts work great in Europe and save time by not requiring stops when there is no other traffic unlike stop signs. I came to a full stop at the Anza and 23rd roundabout because they haven’t taken down the stop sign! Someone in power take the sign down to eliminate that confusion.

  59. ScottRAB: Interesting. Then what is the point of going to the trouble and expense of installing a traffic circle of existing stop signs are kept in place?

  60. I do think unfamiliarity is a big problem. If you’ve grown up with traffic circles, fine. But if you install one here and there at irregular intervals among a population of drivers that is (mostly) unaccustomed to them, they’re going to have their WTF moments.

    Sure, pedestrians and cars do unexpected things on the road. But these are expected unexpecteds; a traffic circle in the middle of an intersection in the Richmond District is an unexpected unexpected.

  61. @Bob Unlike the Page Street experiment a few years ago, this time they’ve installed standard signs indicating a roundabout (on Page St, the city cooked up some odd thing on its own, which was confusing). These signs are pretty clear. (When I first drove in Britain some years ago, having zero experience with roundabouts, I had no problem.) Yes, some people will slow down and scope out what’s going on because it’s an unfamiliar configuration. But this isn’t a he said/she said problem. There is plenty of documented North American experience with installing traffic circles/roundabouts, and the research verdict on them is that people get used to them quickly and most people then like and prefer them. (That’s actually also the UK experience, which began in the late 60s/70s–early pushback followed by enthusiasm.) That said, there’s no point in a roundabout at 23rd/Anza if they are going to keep the stop signs on 23rd. Stop signs are used on entrances to large traffic circles in some circumstances, but the 23rd/Anza intersection is a classic situation calling for a stopless roundabout.

  62. Steven,

    Circular intersections change the number of conflict points possible. the only place motorists can run into each other at a circular intersection is where one car enters while another is circulating. The reduction in speed (typically 15-20 mph) also significantly decreases the likelihood of serious injury if a collision does occur, first because at 20 mph you have more time to react and second, due to the reduction in energy. The geometry of crashes at circular intersections is also a factor in the reduction in injuries (glancing sideswipes instead of 90-degree angles). Neighborhood traffic circles are objects in the road that must be driven around. Impaired motorists will run into them – one nickname for these small neighborhood circles is DUII-catcher.
    BTW, the City has confirmed that existing traffic control will remain in place – this is the normal way for small neighborhood traffic circles like this.

  63. ScottRAB, Thanks for the additional info. Has the City said why stop signs will remain in place? It’s actually NOT the normal MO for neighborhood roundabouts (except, perhaps, when authorities are hounded by fearful neighborhood groups who’d prefer adding another stop sign to slow traffic, rather than a roundabout in the first place). If the stop signs remain, then the traffic circle simple slows east-west traffic a bit on Anza in a very expensive way. That’s not bad–but we’d get a better result at this and other intersections by using roundabouts as they’re usually used–to slow traffic while avoiding use of stop signs.

  64. Past experience has been poor when trying all-way yield (there is also a bias against such control in the MUTCD). One of the recurring confusions I see posted is that the city is building a roundabout. It is not. It is building a neighborhood traffic circle. The two types of circular intersection operate differently due to their relative sizes. I don’t think you have the space at this intersection to build a proper modern roundabout with the necessary entry separations to employ yield signs as the intersection control.

  65. Scott, I don’t think it’s relative size that’s the issue. Controlled-entry traffic circles are typically much (often much much) bigger than the 23rd/Anza intersection. Roundabouts are usually much smaller–hardly any neighborhood streets (never mind major streets) in Britain are as wide as San Francisco’s (ridiculously) wide avenues–take a quick look at Google Maps. As a regards the space issue in this case, that’s why I raised the question of why the center circle structure was so big. It’s interesting that San Franciscans seem to be so terrified of all-yield roundabouts: are we incapable of learning what the average Brit did in the 60s and 70s? Or folks in other parts of the US? I do understand that there were some problems with the Page Street experiment–but quite frankly I think it was sabotaged by city authorities who didn’t want to do it anyway (see, for example, the odd signs they used to signal the roundabout, which I think people found confusing).

  66. Steve,

    Urban compact modern roundabouts start out at around 90 feet in diameter to the outside curb. Mini-roundabouts are usually capable of fitting inside a 60-ft diameter space, but mini-roundabout islands are mountable for large trucks (no signs on the central island). 23rd looks like a typical width, while Anza looks closer to 40 or 44 ft wide. If the intent was a mini or ultra-compact urban modern roundabout, then standard practice would be to include splitter islands on each approach, crosswalks set 20 ft back from the yield line and comensurate parking removal to clear the visibility.
    The key to a modern roundabout’s safety is the slow operation. 15-20 mph is the appropriate operational speed. This is only achieved by deflection – requiring motorists to go around something and slowing to do so. Smaller circles have less deflection and less slowing (conversly, very large circles also have higher speeds). For neighborhood traffic circles the idea is to provide a minimum lane for auto traffic, about 13 ft around the circle, clearly mark the crossings to keep ped and auto paths from overlapping, and make the circle as large as will fit within those constraints. A narrow truck apron is provided to let longer vehicles travel through intersections, though not necessarily make left turns.
    I would also point out that the liability laws in the UK are quite different than the US, and the rights of pedestrians significantly greater.

  67. One potential problem: there are parked cars right up to the intersection on Anza on the NE corner. As a result, you basically have to enter the intersection before you can see whether or not there’s someone approaching. I’m afraid that people driving west on Anza will assume they can drive forward, while someone driving north on 23rd will nose in to peer around the parked car, and a collision will occur.

    The opposite corner has curb cuts which have eliminated parking there.

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