The City of Carmel is considering a familiar strategy to try to lower speeds in and near roundabouts.
At the Feb. 8 meeting of the Carmel City Council’s Finance, Utilities and Rules committee, Councilor Jeff Worrell proposed an ordinance amendment that would permit Carmel’s engineering department to designate specific roundabouts – and the 250 feet of adjacent roadway leading in and out of them – as individual zones with their own traffic rules. The city already uses this concept to set lower speeds in school zones and regulate parking on designated streets near school campuses.
Worrell, who heads the committee, said this method would allow the city to take steps to lower speeds near and inside targeted roundabouts and determine whether the measures work instead of implementing new speed limits citywide. New speed limits would require multiple new signs at each of the city’s more than 150 roundabouts and would cost approximately $250,000 in total, according to City Engineer Jeremy Kashman.
“(The proposal) allows for a piecemeal approach,” said Benjamin Legge, interim corporation counsel for the City of Carmel, who is working to draft the ordinance. “It allows it to be very case specific, and it would mirror something that’s already in place.”
According to the proposal, the engineering department would request approval from the Board of Public Works to install new speed limit signs at select roundabouts. The new speed limit would become enforceable once the signs are in place. The engineering department is tasked with collecting data to determine if the signs are lowering speeds and to help determine whether the measures should be adopted at other roundabouts.
Many Carmel roundabouts are surrounded by yellow signs urging drivers to travel at no more than 15 mph through the intersection. According to state law, however, enforceable traffic laws are posted on white signs, while those on yellow signs are advisory.
Worrell said he has received a great deal of feedback for and against lowering speeds in and near roundabouts, including through a one-week online survey that generated 1,300 responses. The survey found that more than 40 percent of respondents said they felt unsafe when crossing roundabouts as a pedestrian, and nearly 40 percent of those who felt unsafe said vehicle speed was a concern.
In addition, nearly 84 percent of respondents said they felt safe driving in a roundabout, and more than 70 percent said they felt the speed limit in a roundabout should be between 15 and 20 mph.
The committee did not vote on the proposal but plans to do so at a future meeting. The full council will have final voting authority.