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Finding a Roundabout to Safety

Updated: Jul 16

Traffic circles slow speed and a new one is now in Central Islip

A couple of months ago, on my regular route from work to home, I noticed a digital sign announcing a new traffic pattern ahead. As a pedestrian safety advocate and naturally curious, I was surprised to see that a “roundabout” also known as a traffic circle was installed. I was traveling on Eastview Drive in Central Islip.

Motorists navigate a relatively new traffic circle in Central Islip. Photo courtesy of Janine Logan

For most motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians, the addition of the roundabout would not pique their interest, but for me, because I know the safety benefits of roundabouts in slowing traffic, I was amazed to find one. There are hardly any on Long Island.

Roundabouts are known for calming traffic and slowing speed. The U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration cites a statistic that roundabouts reduce severe crashes – those involving injury or death – by 78 to 82 percent.

Roundabouts also offer significant safety benefits to pedestrians and cyclists. The center island of the roundabout is a refuge for cyclists and pedestrians, allowing them to cross one direction of motor vehicle traffic at a time. And research shows that the geometric design of roundabouts encourages slower motor vehicle approach speeds – as slow as 15 mph in many cases.

Speed is an important variable to control for the safety of all – motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists. In experience data collected by the New York Coalition for Transportation Safety from among participants at its safety education events held from October 2021 through September 2022, respondents noted speeding cars as their top fear. This finding is consistent with state and national research. Speed is a killer.

In 2020, Long Island was the scene of almost 18.5 percent of all road deaths in New York, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data. The situation has only worsened. Data from the Institute for Traffic Safety and Management shows that in 2020, there were 381 pedestrians/cyclists who were killed/injured. That rose to 455 in 2021. Preliminary data for 2022 shows only a slight dip to 407.

The roundabout installed on Eastview Drive in Central Islip is part of a luxury living apartment complex under development known as The Belmont at Eastview. Developers plan to refurbish the historic buildings that sit on the 80-plus acre site. The structures were first part of the New York State Psychiatric Hospital at Central Islip, then used by the New York Institute of Technology as an eastern campus.

The decision to install a roundabout was a wise one and, doubtless, future residents will be very glad that the developers had such foresight.


About Walk Safe Long Island (WSLI)

WSLI is a pedestrian and cyclist safety campaign that aims to teach Long Islanders about walking and biking safely through law-based education. WSLI is produced for the New York Coalition for Transportation Safety by the Long Island Health Collaborative, funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with a grant from the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee.

New York State is taking numerous measures to tackle the issue of pedestrian and cyclist safety, all of which culminate in the New York State Pedestrian Safety Action Plan (PSAP). The plan emphasizes making streets safer by implementing the “Three Es—” engineering, enforcement, and education. Walk Safe Long Island is part of the third “E,” education.

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1 Comment

Mark Hoffacker
Mark Hoffacker
Jul 25, 2023

Good article Janine. We don't have as many roundabouts on Long Island as other parts of the state because of the amount of land that is needed. I bet though, there are more roundabouts near us than we realize. Everyone should know that cars already in the roundabout as you approach, have the right of way.

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