Whenever a customer orders groceries from Tom Thumb, Cheryl Forester navigates through the roundabouts on North Henderson Street and White Settlement Road to avoid construction on West 7th Street to pick them up.
For the mail carrier-turned-food delivery driver, roundabouts are a regular occurrence.
“It’s a nice roundabout, just a little scary at 8 a.m.,” the 60-year-old said. “They just fail to yield pretty much and they’re coming so fast. You almost feel like you have to stop when you’re already in the roundabout, and they’re supposed to be yielding.”
There’s been at least three wrecks in these roundabouts in the past three months. Speed contributed to two; in one, the driver went the wrong direction.
Even though the three wrecks caused injuries and thousands of dollars in damage, city officials continue to espouse roundabouts.
The city of Fort Worth began installing roundabouts in 2012. Here are the locations of other roundabouts:
- Angle Avenue & Old Decatur Road
- Basswood Boulevard & Horseman Road
- Basswood Boulevard & Robert W. Dowing Drive
- Blue Mound Road West @ Willow Springs Road
- Blue Mound Road West & Eagle Boulevard
- Brewer Boulevard @ Worth Creek Parkway
- Cantrell Sansom Road @ Mark Iv Parkway
- Clearfork Main & Edwards Ranch
- Crawford Farms & Old Denton
- Cromwell Marine Creek Road & Marine Creek Parkway
- Cullen & Foch
- Cullen & Rupert
- Cullen & Vacek
- Dalford Street @ Bird Street
- Eagle Boulevard & Prairie Breeze Drive
- Eagle Boulevard @ Willow Springs Road
- Elizabeth Boulevard & 5th Avenue
- Elizabeth Boulevard & South Adams Street
- Elizabeth Boulevard & Willing Avenue
- Fossil Creek & Riverside
- Golden Triangle Boulevard & Park Vista Boulevard
- Golden Triangle Boulevard & Walmart Driveway
- Harmon & Harmon
- Heritage Trace Parkway & Tehama Ridge Parkway
- Highway 287 northbound exit ramp & Bonds Ranch Road
- Highway 287 southbound exit ramp & Bonds Ranch Road
- Holland Hill Lane @ Chaplin Drive
- La Frontera Drive @ Rancho Milagro Drive
- Landing way @ Rancho Milagro Drive
- Litsey Road & Cleveland-Gibbs Road
- Longhorn Road & Marine Creek Parkway
- Mcpherson & Summer Creek
- Mcpherson Boulevard @ Brewer Road (Chisholm Trail Ranch)
- Meacham Boulevard & Mercantile Drive
- North Henderson & Future White Settlement
- Norther Cross & Riverside
- Old Denton (Riverside) & Shiver
- Park Vista Boulevard & Keller Hicks Road
- Park Vista Boulevard & Ray White Road & Wyndrook Street
- Rosedale & Ayers
- Rosedales & Mitchell
- State Highway 281 & Harmon
- Timberland Boulevard & Park Vista Boulevard
- Veale Ranch Parkway & Ventana Parkway
- Ventana Parkway @ Jerry Dunn Parkway
- Westport Parkway @ Alta Vista Road
- White Settlement Road & Commercial Street
Source: City of Fort Worth
Roundabouts have fewer wrecks involving serious bodily injuries and fatalities, said Sgt. F.J. Brown, a supervisor in the traffic investigation unit of the police department. This is because roundabouts force drivers to slow down and eliminate the possibility of T-boning another vehicle.
“In contrast, a person driving straight through an intersection can go as fast as the vehicle is capable,” Brown said.
The best roundabouts achieve a reduction in speed by making the entrances between 70- and 90-degree angle, said Nazir Lalani, an engineer who has made improvements to roundabouts in California over the past decade.
The best roundabouts also have good lighting, landscaping or a crushable structure in the central island and good signage to alert drivers that a roundabout is coming up, he said. In fact, the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices has clear guidance on this that designers of roundabouts sometimes do not follow, which is why roundabouts should be peer reviewed.
“If they don’t have someone who is really knowledgeable doing peer review, then a lot of stuff gets missed and then it gets built all wrong and then they have to go back and fix it,” said Lalani, who had not reviewed the roundabouts that are the subject of this story.
Finally, the diameter of the center island should be between 90 and 150 feet in a suburban/urban environment so something as big as a fire truck can maneuver through them, said Marcus Brewer, a research engineer at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.
“There’s different schools of thought about art and sculptures in the center island, though,” Brewer said. “You don’t want something that’s going to encourage people to walk across or treat it like a park.”
Other benefits of roundabouts include that they are less costly to the cities and to the environment, he said. While roundabouts cost more upfront because they require more space, cities spend an average of $6,000 per year powering and maintaining traffic lights. And, because drivers aren’t idling as much, roundabouts not only ease congestion, they are thought to cut down on emissions, he said.
There are 45 other roundabouts in Fort Worth and an estimated 7,900 in the U.S. as of 2020. Nevada built the first one in 1990, but they are more prevalent in the UK, France, and Australia, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Lalani is unsure why there are fewer in the U.S., but speculates that it is because traffic circles were introduced first. In a traffic circle, traffic in the circle yields to traffic entering the circle.
“Some agencies tried them and didn’t like them,” Lalani said of traffic circles. “But then when the modern roundabout was introduced and had the traffic approaching the roundabout yielding to traffic in the roundabout, which is the way it’s always been done in other countries, they started to become more acceptable.”
In the meantime, Brown advises drivers who aren’t as experienced with roundabouts as food delivery driver Forester to slow down and pay attention.
“Roundabouts are usually very suggestive,” the police sergeant said. “Upon approach, many roundabouts have yellow/black caution arrows that indicate what direction to travel. The raised curbs at many roundabouts also suggest which direction to travel. With raised curbs, a driver would have to take a harsh left turn in order to drive the wrong direction.”
Striking fixtures and not stopping to report it is a class C misdemeanor if the damage is valued at less than $200 and a class B misdemeanor if it is $200 or more, he said.
Although roundabouts continue to be divisive in Fort Worth, many agree drivers need to brush up on their roundabout skills.
That’s where Joni Goeders, nicknamed Ms.DaMeanor, comes in. As one of the owners of and instructors at First Class Driving School, she’s taught everyone from Fort Worth ballerinas to a teen who worked as Chuck E. Cheese about roundabouts.
“The first time they see one it kind of scares them to death. They’re like, ‘What is this and what do I do?’ But it doesn’t take long to figure them out,” she said.
This story was updated on Dec. 14 to correct the number of roundabouts in Fort Worth and to add a list of them.
Jessica Priest is an investigative journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.