Winnipeg split on traffic circles

Winnipeggers are having mixed reactions over traffic-calming roundabouts being built as a replacement for stop signs at intersections along various roads.

Winnipeggers are having mixed reactions over traffic-calming roundabouts being built as a replacement for stop signs at intersections along various roads.

Many people have expressed confusion over the need for the concrete circles, and some are worried they may obstruct emergency vehicles, buses and city crews that clear snow.

Others, like Phil Manaigre, are worried that drivers will simply smash into them.

"I saw a trailer the other day hit this curb — the roundabout cement thing — and I could [maybe] see a kid speeding one day, hitting that and flipping over," he said.

Andrea Robin agreed, saying she feels city drivers can't handle the change.

"Most Winnipeggers can't handle a left turn at a controlled intersection — so they're asking for trouble," she said.

The city says the traffic circles are a way to get vehicles to slow down for the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.

Each of the structures has several standing signs marking their presence in the middle of the road.

Luis Escobar, the city's manager of transportation, told CBC on Thursday that the rules to navigate the roundabouts are simple: drivers entering the circle must yield to other vehicles  and pedestrians.

"The whole concept is what you have seen at every other street in the city. The difference is that instead of having a straight road in front of you, you have traffic that moves in a circle," he said.

Escobar said the circles were designed to accommodate larger vehicles like fire trucks and snow plows.

Cyclist Charolette Onski suggested any complaints are likely more about an aversion to change than the practical aspects of how the traffic circles work.

"It's new," she said. "Anything new always causes possible discomfort."

The city has developed a website to show the public where the traffic circles will be placed.

With files from the CBC's Mychaylo Prystupa