A speed table in Alexandria, Virginia.

Santa Barbara City councilmember Brian Barnwell is threatening to revisit the politically painful subject of mini-roundabouts after seeing how Portland, Oregon-regarded as a leader in traffic calming devices-deals with the issue. During a recent trip to Portland, councilmembers Barnwell, Helene Schneider and Roger Horton were taken on a tour of roundabouts and mini-roundabouts. “It turns out Portland doesn’t build them anymore,” said Barnwell. “They don’t work as advertised; they don’t slow down drivers from one end of the block to the next.” Instead, he said Portland is now enjoying great slowing down cars by installing “speed tables” which rise three inches off the ground-with beveled edges–for about 15 feet. “It’s enough to get your attention without knocking your fillings out,” Barnwell said. He said they’re much cheaper than mini-roundabouts, and much prettier, too. And such aesthetic considerations go a long way towards muting the sort of intense opposition six weeks ago when the council approved plans to make the six temporary roundabouts on the upper-east side permanent.

In light of this new information, Barnwell said he’d like to re-examine the council’s vote. At that meeting, the council heard from many angry opponents of the roundabouts, as well as from some supporters. Councilmember Helene Schneider said she’s not at all interested in reopening old wounds, explaining she’d like to see how the roundabouts-for which the council has voted twice-actually work.


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