Roundabouts save lives – Something good happened in Erie, 9/4/2020

This week’s good news is something most people don’t think about, but should – if you’ve traveled through an Erie County roundabout anytime recently, that roundabout may already have saved your life. Here’s the story:

So, PennDOT studied 22 recently installed roundabouts to find out whether they really are safer. They looked at three years of accident data both before and after installing the roundabouts. As it turns out, all those people in Erie (and everywhere else, really) who reflexively hated roundabouts before they ever saw one were full of crap. The study found that roundabouts produced fewer accidents, deaths, serious injuries, and minor injuries.

Now, one important thing to note is that while the 22 intersections PennDOT studied (including Waterford’s intersection of Routes 19 and 97) showed a 100% reduction in traffic fatalities, there are 34 additional ones that weren’t included in the study. Those ones include the Route 5 and Millfair Road roundabout that someone drove right through a few weeks ago and died.

So no, one study isn’t everything, but this one was pretty conclusive. Spending our tax dollars to create safer intersections is something I’ll cheer every single time.

Sadly, not everyone agrees with me and not everyone understands data. If you live here in Erie, or anywhere within 100 miles of Erie, chances are you’ve heard the wailing and gnashing of teeth of Erieites decrying the prospect of roundabouts. Even data like this isn’t going to change their minds.

That’s why we at Idiotville have made it our core mission to push back against people who loudly profess their dissatisfaction with our town while simultaneously opposing all possible change – and though we feel progress has been made, we know plenty Negative Nancies remain. In fact, we found some Negative Nancies in the comments under this very article. Let’s push back on that negativity with the kind of sarcastic analysis you’ve come to expect from us.

We’ll break up the negative comments into three main categories. First up:

Debra the Denier

The denier sees the article (or maybe doesn’t read it, who knows), ignores the part where way fewer people die, and concludes that the whole thing is a waste of money. Despite the aforementioned decrease in accidents, the denier decides roundabouts cause an increase in confusion! Debra the Denier is speaking here of her own confusion. She is telling on herself.

Another brand of Negative Nancy is Michelle, here:

Michelle the Misunderstander

Sure, the study showed a clear reduction in fatalities – but Michelle’s heard of one. In the same way “it’s getting colder outside” doesn’t mean “it’s zero degrees,” fewer accidents doesn’t mean they’ve been totally eliminated forever. Any traffic fatality is tragic and the recent one in Millcreek was no different, but one death does not refute the larger trend.

Anyway, let’s get to the third type of Negative Nancy:

The Rage

Hey! Nice article you’ve got there about the scientific analysis of traffic flow through a variety of geometries and controls – but I know one that’s stupid. The topic could’ve just as easily been ham sandwiches. Wouldn’t have mattered. Diane was pissed, and wasn’t going to feel better until she got this tangentially-related piece of opinion off her chest.

Hey! Pipe down, Cheryl. We’ve already had a denier.

Note: it seems all of the comments shown here as examples happen to be women. Let me assure you, that is a coincidence. Peruse these comments for yourself and you’ll see that no gender has a monopoly on loud, wrong-headed, reflexive negativity.

In the end, the great thing about internet comment sections is that no one forced you to read them. We can pick out a few, have a good laugh, then go about the business of making Erie, PA a safer, more attractive place to live and work every day. Thanks in part to some improved safety in a few key areas, we’re doing exactly that.

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