Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Roundabout Boulder - A Tutorial

I drive to work almost every day down Pine Street in downtown Boulder between Folsom and Broadway, and each day I realize how lucky I am to live and work in such a wonderful community. However, I think I might need to find a different route because almost every day I arrive at work irritated by drivers on Pine Street who don't know how to negotiate the traffic circles! After stewing about this for some time I thought ... why not take this opportunity to use our blog to educate and inform Boulder drivers on exactly how to drive through these little roundabouts. Then we'll all be safer AND in a better mood!

In some cities, small traffic circles have been constructed in the middle of residential intersections to calm neighborhood traffic. Occasionally, these small circles are called roundabouts or mini-roundabouts. Circles of this type are common in Seattle, WA and Boulder, CO. Definitions of traffic calming vary, but they all share the goal of reducing vehicle speeds, improving safety, and enhancing quality of life. What we have on Pine Street are known as traffic circles, not roundabouts. Per http://www.trafficcalming.org/ traffic circles are raised islands, placed in intersections, around which traffic circulates. They are good for calming intersections, especially within neighborhoods, where large vehicle traffic is not a major concern but speeds, volumes, and safety are problems. B efore the installation of these roundabouts on Pine Street one could observe cars blazing down the street in this otherwise quiet residential neighborhood.

The towns of Erie and Superior also have traffic circles, mini-roundabouts, or roundabouts, so if you drive anywhere in Boulder County it might be a good idea to be familiar with how to negotiate these traffic calming road features.

Okay, so now for the HOW TO portion of this post. The city of Overland Park, KS has a nice little .pdf on their website with a diagram that illustrates how to drive a roundabout. Click on the link to see for yourself or just read on ...

  1. Slow down as you approach, be prepared to YIELD, and check the crosswalk for pedestrians and cyclists.

  2. Look to your left and check for vehicles already in the traffic circle - vehicles already in the circle have the right of way. Wait for them to flow through and then when there is a gap in the circulation it is your turn, so go ahead and pull into the circle!
  3. Once you are in the traffic circle YOU have the right of way. Herein lies my big pet peeve - if you are already IN the traffic circle, don't stop! Keep on moving (with caution of course). If you stop you cause a bottleneck for everyone. You don't have to stop and let new cars in the circle - why? Because YOU have the right of way - you were there first! Of course if there is an irresponsible driver who you think clearly intends to disregard traffic circle protocal then by all means slow down or stop to avoid an accident. Otherwise, keep on truckin'!

  4. As you approach your exit put on your right turn signal, and then exit the traffic circle.

Now, what if you and another driver arrive at the traffic circle at the exact same time, but at difference entry points? According to SafeMotorist.com the driver on the left should always yield to the driver on the right. The same rules apply for traffic circles as for regular intersections. For instance, if you reach an uncontrolled intersection (i.e. traffic circle) at close to the same time, the vehicle who actually reached the intersection last is the driver who must yield the right of way. If you reach the intersection at the same time, the driver on the left should always yield the right of way.

Congratulations - You survived Traffic Circles 101. Happy driving Boulder!

Disclaimer - I am NOT an expert on traffic circles, or traffic laws in Colorado or anywhere else. For information specific to Colorado please consult the State of Colorado, Department of Revenue, Division of Motor Vehicles Colorado Driver Handbook. Page 16 has information on Right of Way. Content in this blog post was obtained via research on the websites mentioned or is my opinion only.

Pam Metzger
Director of Relocation and Business Development
Colorado Landmark, Realtors
twitter = pmcolorado

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fall Maintenance Tips for Your Home

Fall is officially here in Boulder, with our first true chill in the air! October in Boulder is beautiful and there is always something going on - school events, sports activities, CU Buffs games, and Halloween to name a few things. Don't get so busy with the fall fun that you forget stay on top of a few important home maintenance "to do's". Whether you are staying put for the time being or you are sellling your home and trying to keep it comfortable and in great showing condition be sure to make time for the following:

  • Trim trees and remove dead branches. Bad weather and the high winds we sometimes experience here in the Boulder area can cause weak limbs to break, damaging property or causing injury. Consult a professional tree service for large jobs.
  • Reduce energy costs by lowering the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120 degrees F.
  • Make sure caulking around windows and doors is adequate to reduce heat loss.
  • Replace the filter on your furnace and schedule routine maintenance with a qualified heating contractor.
  • Change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors - time this to correspond with switching your clocks back in the fall, and then forward in the spring so you won't forget!
  • Clear out gutters and downspouts on the exterior of your home to prevent the build-up of leaves and debris that can impede the flow of rainwater and cause water damage.
  • Check your chimney for birds nests or other debris especially if you have a wood burning fireplace, and make sure the chimney cap is in place. Call a chimney sweep to perform maintenance.
  • Be aware that mice will try to start coming in from the cold, especially if you live in or near a rural area, field, park or open space. There are numerous ways to trap mice, humane or otherwise. You will find many choices and expert assistance at McGuckin Hardware, Boulder's go-to place for pretty much everything since 1955.
  • Consider repainting or staining and sealing your exterior doors to protect them from rain, snow, ice and wind. A $10 can of paint or sealant could go a long way to prevent damage to an expensive door.
  • Cover your patio furniture, outdoor grill, portable firepit, etc... or move into storage.
  • Drain and store your garden hoses, and have your sprinkler system blown out to prevent damage to pipes in freezing weather.
  • Pull your refrigerator away from the wall and vacuum the condensor coils to prevent damage to the motor.
  • Check your dryer exhaust tube and vent for built up lint, debris, birds nests, etc...
  • Clean out your whole house humidifier and replace filters before heating season starts.
  • Be prepared for weather related emergencies such as high winds, tornados, blizzards, or flooding. Organize survival kits and review an emergency escape or protection plan with your household.

Have a wonderful fall and enjoy everything our beautiful area has to offer this season!

Pam Metzger
Director of Business Development and Relocation
Colorado Landmark, Realtors