They’re famous for their tulips, windmills, and clogs, but city leaders aren’t convinced that a ‘Dutch’ roundabout is best suited to Hamilton’s CBD.
In what would be a New Zealand first, a Dutch-inspired single-lane roundabout has been proposed for the bustling intersection of Tristram and Collingwood streets.
The new roundabout would give priority to pedestrians and cyclists, with a pedestrian crossing and a cycle path straddling each arm of the roundabout.
The city center intersection is currently managed by a conventional two-lane roundabout.
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However, the construction of a new $ 50 million office complex at the southwest corner of the intersection has prompted council to rethink how best to handle traffic on the site.
Hamilton City Council member Robyn Denton said the ACC building, which has yet to be completed, will eventually house around 700 employees, but will only include 30 parking lots.
“One of the main concerns with the current layout of this intersection is how it responds to the surge in the number of people walking, cycling and commuting to this location,” Denton said.
A report from council staff presented to elected members notes that the intersection has “very limited facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.” The report recommends that councilors pursue a Dutch-style roundabout at a cost of $ 3.15 million.
Chris Barton, a board member, said the new roundabout design would be cheaper to build than an intersection controlled by traffic lights and better handle traffic.
However, in a staff retreat, councilors voted to have the options of a traffic light intersection and a Dutch-style roundabout independently peer reviewed before deciding on the preferred option.
Community engagement will be used to inform any decision.
Deputy Mayor Geoff Taylor has said pedestrian safety needs to be improved at the intersection, but questions the validity of data indicating that a Dutch-style roundabout will perform better than traffic lights.
“What I’m missing right now is some assurance – I think especially so soon after the Ward St debacle – about the reliability of the Dutch roundabout at this location,” Taylor said.
The much-maligned Innovating Streets essay saw the layout and streetscape of Ward St and Rostrevor St revamped with a mix of planters, bollards and artwork. The experiment has angered Ward St business owners, developers and some city politicians over the confusing nature of its rollout and the apparent lack of consultation.
Taylor noted that a Dutch-inspired roundabout design had been used in Cambridge, UK, with mixed results.
Councilor Dave Macpherson also took issue with claims that a Dutch-style roundabout would operate at the intersection of Tristram Street and Collingwood Street given the flow of heavy vehicles to the site.
Such a roundabout design would lead to more traffic jams which, in turn, would create new dangers.
“We’re not in England, we’re not in Holland, we’re in New Zealand where… people quite often use roundabouts like slingshots if they’re in a car. It’s dangerous.”
The Tristram St – Collingwood St roundabout is a key intersection for commuters to the City of Wintec Campus, FMG Stadium Waikato, PAK’nSAVE Clarence St and Hamilton Lake.
Councilor Ewan Wilson said a lot has been done about the design of the Dutch roundabout, but he is aware of the other important contribution of the Dutch to the world – clogs.
“I’m just aware of whether or not [this] … is an important and valid adherence to the Dutch design philosophy, ”Wilson said.
Wilson crosses the roundabout regularly, “sometimes with hooves”, and remembers the dangers of the intersection. Whatever the design of the road chosen by the council, it must be “Kiwi proof”.
“This peer review will focus less on the behavior of Dutch motorists and more on the behavior of Kiwi motorists in the New Zealand operating context,” he said.
Councilor Maxine van Oosten said the Dutch-style roundabout concept had sparked fear among some elected officials, but it was also an exciting way to deal with a major intersection in the city.
“It’s low speed, motorists and other vehicles are watching other users out there, and that makes it incredibly safe. “
The international community will watch what Hamilton decides, said van Oosten.