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Does the crash at Swift and Meade show roundabouts are unsafe?

How about the accidents just west of College Ave.?

July 4 accident at Swift and Meade
July 4 accident at Swift and Meade

"About two weeks ago, there was an accident where a person drove up on the rocks in the middle median on the roundabout just down the street from ours on Swift Avenue," Kira Hawkins said to me on July 17. "They just don't make any sense here and don't function as well as they were thought."

Hawkins, a Normal Heights local for 20 years, sent me a photo of the July 4 accident. It depicts a gray-colored SUV sitting on top of a roundabout at Swift and Meade, a block north of Church's Chicken on El Cajon Boulevard.

Mahoney says the July 9 crash was the eighth car in the last year and a half to wipe out by their traffic circle.

"I'm not in favor of the roundabouts," she continued. "They don't fit the demographic here on this street; they're too small and tight, very difficult to safely maneuver. Also, we didn't even have a choice or say-so about them being put in; someone made the executive decision to spend millions of taxpayers' money on something we had no idea they were doing until it was too late." Hawkins' neighbor thought otherwise and added, "I'm happy he crashed there and not in a house or hit someone."

About five days after, by a traffic circle four miles east of Hawkins, a blue-colored BMW crashed by April Mahoney's Oak Park house. "A car has been projected into a neighbor's home," she said of the BMW, "due to the failed redesign of Streamview Drive's added 'death trap of a traffic circle.'"

Mahoney says the July 9 crash was the eighth car in the last year and a half to wipe out by their traffic circle where Streamview Drive and Gayle Street meet, just west of College Avenue. The 59-year-old mother and world-renowned podcaster has lived on Streamview Drive for 30 years. The city installed the traffic circle in front of Mahoney and her neighbor's houses in 2016 to slow down the drivers. But instead, now, "Our lives are in jeopardy every day," she said in an online plea to the city. "And your government is not upholding the responsibility we have entrusted you with. Instead, we are traumatized, fearing our properties destroyed, financially impacted, insurance premiums increased while you offer no assistance."

On July 17, Mahoney sent me a photo of a stolen black four-door sedan; the getaway driver lost control by the 'death trap of a traffic circle' and crashed in front of Mahoney's neighbor's house. "That was on April 19 on a beautiful afternoon. It was a police pursuit, and the criminal hit the traffic circle, and you saw the rest in the [1][news'] video." Then, in October, another car crashed into Mahoney's vehicle, totaling it, and then three other vehicles by the traffic circle Mahoney wants the city to remove. So much so that she started an online petition and created a t-shirt for her and her neighbors that reads "Streamview Drive Lives Matter."

"Who will have to die or get hurt before you do your job?" she asks the city. "The blood will be on your hands."

Some of Mahoney's neighbors disagree with her and say the speeding drivers are to blame, not the circular roadways.

But Mahoney refuted that notion and said the way their traffic circle was implemented with an almost flush design with the street makes the vehicles that crash into it redirect the vehicle into their homes. Darryl, who saw the car crash videos and photos, agrees. "The flaw in the deterrent's design redirects the vehicles into the paths of homes. Speed bumps seem like a more sensible solution." But Mahoney says speed bumps are not viable as they slow down first responders.

Instead, she suggests, "I'd raise the circle in the middle, add flashing speed lights and slowing signage, straighten out the curves, and put a stone community welcome wall that reads 'Welcome to Streamview' or 'Oak Park.' They promised beauty and gave us a beast." Mahoney is meeting with her Oak Park neighbors and hopefully city officials on August 4 at "6 pm at 5450 Lea Street, San Diego's Teen Challenge," she said. "The city also must have a PSA campaign to educate the public on traffic roundabouts."

Back in Normal Heights, Kira Hawkins, whom I spoke with earlier, agrees with Mahoney; she lives in front of a roundabout at 34th and Meade. (A different roundabout than where the July 4 roundabout crash transpired.) Hawkins continued, "The roundabouts were finished, I think, in September 2020. We had an accident in our roundabout that involved a moped and an SUV. The SUV driver did not yield to the moped and knocked the moped driver off the bike. Having one of these roundabouts right out in front of your door makes you witness the craziest things people will do in them. Failure to yield is the most common and happens every hour at least."

Hawkins witnessed the roundabout snafus so much that she created a video compilation she coins "Roundabout Fails"; the videos are broadcasted on the [ab]Normal Heights Facebook page. "The craziest scenarios I've caught are the wrong-way drivers. I don't think I have to explain how incredibly dangerous that is. It happens more often than what people think, which is frightening." Her clips show drivers entering the circle and turning left, driving clockwise rather than turning right and driving counterclockwise. Another clip shows two wrong-way drivers entering and exiting simultaneously and even a San Diego Police Department patrol car attempting to make a U-turn within the exit point, but didn't have room and proceeded to do a 3-point turn.

"I started making the roundabout fails compilation to alert our neighbors of the dangers being brought by these things. There seemed to be a divide between those who were for them versus against them, and I started posting them to give visual proof to those who insisted they were safe. I disagreed, so I began using our surveillance videos as evidence. Also, I think it adds some fun to a cruddy situation."

The County of San Diego doesn't think roundabouts are fun and cruddy. Regarding roundabouts that were installed in La Jolla instead of stop lights, their website says that converting intersections from signals to roundabouts "reduces injury crashes by 80 percent and all crashes by 50 percent. Severe injuries are rare — a study of 23 conversions found an 89 percent reduction in fatalities."

Another perk for the residents living around roundabouts is the fresher air. "..... each roundabout is estimated to save 20,000 gallons of gasoline annually, avoiding 9.9 pounds of particulate pollution," reported the county. "One roundabout can eliminate 189 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually."

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July 4 accident at Swift and Meade
July 4 accident at Swift and Meade

"About two weeks ago, there was an accident where a person drove up on the rocks in the middle median on the roundabout just down the street from ours on Swift Avenue," Kira Hawkins said to me on July 17. "They just don't make any sense here and don't function as well as they were thought."

Hawkins, a Normal Heights local for 20 years, sent me a photo of the July 4 accident. It depicts a gray-colored SUV sitting on top of a roundabout at Swift and Meade, a block north of Church's Chicken on El Cajon Boulevard.

Mahoney says the July 9 crash was the eighth car in the last year and a half to wipe out by their traffic circle.

"I'm not in favor of the roundabouts," she continued. "They don't fit the demographic here on this street; they're too small and tight, very difficult to safely maneuver. Also, we didn't even have a choice or say-so about them being put in; someone made the executive decision to spend millions of taxpayers' money on something we had no idea they were doing until it was too late." Hawkins' neighbor thought otherwise and added, "I'm happy he crashed there and not in a house or hit someone."

About five days after, by a traffic circle four miles east of Hawkins, a blue-colored BMW crashed by April Mahoney's Oak Park house. "A car has been projected into a neighbor's home," she said of the BMW, "due to the failed redesign of Streamview Drive's added 'death trap of a traffic circle.'"

Mahoney says the July 9 crash was the eighth car in the last year and a half to wipe out by their traffic circle where Streamview Drive and Gayle Street meet, just west of College Avenue. The 59-year-old mother and world-renowned podcaster has lived on Streamview Drive for 30 years. The city installed the traffic circle in front of Mahoney and her neighbor's houses in 2016 to slow down the drivers. But instead, now, "Our lives are in jeopardy every day," she said in an online plea to the city. "And your government is not upholding the responsibility we have entrusted you with. Instead, we are traumatized, fearing our properties destroyed, financially impacted, insurance premiums increased while you offer no assistance."

On July 17, Mahoney sent me a photo of a stolen black four-door sedan; the getaway driver lost control by the 'death trap of a traffic circle' and crashed in front of Mahoney's neighbor's house. "That was on April 19 on a beautiful afternoon. It was a police pursuit, and the criminal hit the traffic circle, and you saw the rest in the [1][news'] video." Then, in October, another car crashed into Mahoney's vehicle, totaling it, and then three other vehicles by the traffic circle Mahoney wants the city to remove. So much so that she started an online petition and created a t-shirt for her and her neighbors that reads "Streamview Drive Lives Matter."

"Who will have to die or get hurt before you do your job?" she asks the city. "The blood will be on your hands."

Some of Mahoney's neighbors disagree with her and say the speeding drivers are to blame, not the circular roadways.

But Mahoney refuted that notion and said the way their traffic circle was implemented with an almost flush design with the street makes the vehicles that crash into it redirect the vehicle into their homes. Darryl, who saw the car crash videos and photos, agrees. "The flaw in the deterrent's design redirects the vehicles into the paths of homes. Speed bumps seem like a more sensible solution." But Mahoney says speed bumps are not viable as they slow down first responders.

Instead, she suggests, "I'd raise the circle in the middle, add flashing speed lights and slowing signage, straighten out the curves, and put a stone community welcome wall that reads 'Welcome to Streamview' or 'Oak Park.' They promised beauty and gave us a beast." Mahoney is meeting with her Oak Park neighbors and hopefully city officials on August 4 at "6 pm at 5450 Lea Street, San Diego's Teen Challenge," she said. "The city also must have a PSA campaign to educate the public on traffic roundabouts."

Back in Normal Heights, Kira Hawkins, whom I spoke with earlier, agrees with Mahoney; she lives in front of a roundabout at 34th and Meade. (A different roundabout than where the July 4 roundabout crash transpired.) Hawkins continued, "The roundabouts were finished, I think, in September 2020. We had an accident in our roundabout that involved a moped and an SUV. The SUV driver did not yield to the moped and knocked the moped driver off the bike. Having one of these roundabouts right out in front of your door makes you witness the craziest things people will do in them. Failure to yield is the most common and happens every hour at least."

Hawkins witnessed the roundabout snafus so much that she created a video compilation she coins "Roundabout Fails"; the videos are broadcasted on the [ab]Normal Heights Facebook page. "The craziest scenarios I've caught are the wrong-way drivers. I don't think I have to explain how incredibly dangerous that is. It happens more often than what people think, which is frightening." Her clips show drivers entering the circle and turning left, driving clockwise rather than turning right and driving counterclockwise. Another clip shows two wrong-way drivers entering and exiting simultaneously and even a San Diego Police Department patrol car attempting to make a U-turn within the exit point, but didn't have room and proceeded to do a 3-point turn.

"I started making the roundabout fails compilation to alert our neighbors of the dangers being brought by these things. There seemed to be a divide between those who were for them versus against them, and I started posting them to give visual proof to those who insisted they were safe. I disagreed, so I began using our surveillance videos as evidence. Also, I think it adds some fun to a cruddy situation."

The County of San Diego doesn't think roundabouts are fun and cruddy. Regarding roundabouts that were installed in La Jolla instead of stop lights, their website says that converting intersections from signals to roundabouts "reduces injury crashes by 80 percent and all crashes by 50 percent. Severe injuries are rare — a study of 23 conversions found an 89 percent reduction in fatalities."

Another perk for the residents living around roundabouts is the fresher air. "..... each roundabout is estimated to save 20,000 gallons of gasoline annually, avoiding 9.9 pounds of particulate pollution," reported the county. "One roundabout can eliminate 189 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually."

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