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Going roundabout on roundabouts

I’m not taking sides in Cotati’s debate over taffic roundabouts on Old Redwood Highway – not yet anyway – but I’m puzzled by Rancho Adobe Fire Chief Frank Treanor’s explanation for opposing “this ill-conceived plan.”

Treanor told Staff Writer Jeremy Hay he’s upset that City Manager Dianne Thompson didn’t invite him to review the plan, conceding “maybe there’s some way it would work.” (You can read the story here.) OK, maybe Thompson should have asked. But it couldn’t take more than five minutes to walk across La Plaza Park from the fire station to City Hall, where the plan is a public record. Wouldn’t it add some more weight to the Fire Department’s opposition if the chief actually looked at the plan?

– Jim Sweeney

20 Responses to “Going roundabout on roundabouts”

  1. Greg Karraker says:


    My wife had a wonderful idea not unlike yours. Instead “passing the plan to see what’s in it”, she suggested using a set of simple, affordable traffic cones to choke traffic in half for a month. That one bit of common sense would end this madness permanently.

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  2. Bill Powell says:

    why not just try it out for a week or two. That would be EASY to set up!!

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  3. Cotati Majority Coalition says:

    Here we go again. Now Patty Minnis and the usual suspects are gearing up to roil the city with a referendum because the political process will not bend to their will. More wasted time and energy, more fruitless and divisive pet political projects to try to accomplish what they could not do at the ballot box.

    We elect a council to work with the city staff to chart the course of the city. The ORH Gateway issue has had an extraordinary amount of public process, exhaustive studies, and a thoroughly fair hearing. The Village Main Street option tracks with the outcomes of numerous community visioning sessions, the findings of the Planning Commission, and will likely be approved by the City Council.

    The fact that a retrograde minority will never be satisfied until they get to impose their preferences on the rest of us should be cause for the citizens who have spent so much time on this project to hold firm and not let these bullies get their way.

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  4. Lucky2BOliver's says:


    By Joe Rosenheim

    May 3, 2011

    Healdsburg City Council pledged its support this week for building a roundabout at the five-way Healdsburg Avenue and Mill Street intersection through a joint undertaking between the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit project and the city.

    There was no official vote on the matter at council’s meeting Monday night, but consensus was to move ahead with an intersection that took the planned SMART rail line into account — even though that project is years away from reaching Healdsburg.

    “It makes perfect sense to proceed now,” said Councilmember Jim Wood. “Even if it is six, seven, eight years before they run a train through here, the last thing we want to do is build a perfect roundabout and have them tear it up.”

    Comments about overhauling the five-way were part of a broader discussion about several construction projects under consideration. In addition to the five-way/SMART construction site, improvements to the Purity Building and an upgrade to the town’s water distribution system were part of the discussion.

    Of the three projects, roundabout construction at the five-way received by far the most attention.

    For the rest of the article, see:


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  5. Lucky2BOliver's says:


    Posted by Ted Appel in Cities, Transportation on October 21st, 2010


    Windsor took a step Wednesday toward radically redesigning one of its main thoroughfares — Old Redwood Highway — potentially adding as many as three traffic roundabouts to accommodate bicycles and pedestrians.

    The Windsor Town Council approved a concept that would turn a half-mile long stretch of Old Redwood Highway into a “complete street” beginning at one of the town’s most prominent intersections, at Windsor River Road at the edge of Town Green Village, just west of Highway 101.

    The design is intended to slow motor vehicles along Old Redwood Highway and make it more welcoming to cyclists and pedestrians.

    “This is continuing to make Windsor stand out as one of the best communities in this county,” said Councilwoman Debora Fudge. The redesign is a reflection of “smart growth,” defined by walkable communities and compact development, she said.

    The goal is to turn what once was a rural highway into an urban corridor, complete with three roundabouts with landscaped islands, bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides of the road. Meandering sidewalks would include elevated sections to preserve root systems of some large oaks, although 34 trees would need to be removed.

    More than 100 roadside parking slots along Old Redwood Highway are proposed as “reverse angle,” meaning the driver has to pull past the parking spot and back up to park.

    The idea is to make it safer for cyclists because cars pulling out of parking spots would drive forward, rather than reversing.

    Two of the roundabouts, one at Market Street and the other at Windsor Road by Windsor Fuel, are being proposed as part of Bell Village(Poster’s note: The site of the new Oliver’s grocery store), a mixed-use residential and commercial development on 25 acres that once was occupied by Windsorland mobile home and trailer park.

    The other roundabout at Old Red and Windsor River Road will be subject to separate public hearings and design review.

    The improvements are to be paid for with funding from developers as well as redevelopment funds. Construction will likely would not begin until 2012, according to Senior Planner Rick Jones.

    “Roundabouts serve the purpose to increase vehicle capacity of intersections, they slow traffic down, and also create bookends to a corridor,” Jones said. “Visually it announces this is a different area and the driver needs to pay attention.”

    He said it will create a safer environment, “more like a downtown street than a boulevard to race through the area.”

    Roundabouts have been controversial recently in Santa Rosa and Petaluma.

    An experimental bike boulevard on Humboldt Street in Santa Rosa has prompted complaints that the traffic circles are too narrow and dangerous.

    In Petaluma, a similar proposed bicycle boulevard that would replace some four-way stops on D Street with traffic circles drew negative reactions at a meeting last week. While praised by some, the roundabouts were criticized by others as a hazard for bikers and walkers.

    Jones said the roundabouts in Windsor will be larger in diameter and avoid some of the problems.

    Only two members of the public spoke at Wednesday night’s council meeting about the new design, and both expressed support.

    “Keep the roundabouts and the reverse angle parking. When people are faced with something different, they slow down,” said Rob Huebschmann of Windsor.

    Tim Ibraham of Windsor said he became a roundabout fan earlier this year after spending a week driving in England, where they are common.

    “It might take awhile for people to get used to them. Once they are, traffic flows better, not as fast,” he said.

    Jones said the roundabouts on Old Redwood Highway should slow traffic from the current 35 miles per hour limit to 25.

    Part of the plan said Jones, is that bicyclists who are less comfortable sharing the road with cars, such as families with children, will have “escape ramps” as they enter the roundabouts. Those would allow cyclists to easily get up on to the sidewalks just before they enter the roundabout and become pedestrians, he said.

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  6. Lucky2BOliver's says:

    Once upon a time, two grocers walked into Cotati City Hall and said, “If you build a two lane road with roundabouts, we will huff and puff and leave town. We might even get a big bad front group to sponsor an election (at city expense)to kill your plan.”

    The two grocers then went over the river and through the woods to Windsor Town Hall, where they entered and said, “We see where you are looking for a grocery store to be located (ironically)on Old Redwood Highway. We went to http://www.ci.windsor.ca.us/DocumentView.aspx?DID=5639 and http://www.ci.windsor.ca.us/DocumentView.aspx?DID=5578, where we saw that the site for our new store is located on a two lane road with three roundabouts and back-in diagonal parking right in front of our site. We are SO excited- it is perfect for our needs!”

    And so the two grocers traveled back over the river and through the woods back to Cotati, all the way marveling at how Lucky they were.

    The moral of the story is: Sometimes, something that appears to be a “deal breaker”, when moved seventeen miles down the same exact street, magically transforms into a “deal maker”.


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  7. Social Dis-Ease says:

    Agenda 21, LOL?
    Can you imagine if this sick individual was a ‘public servant’ for the City of Cotati?
    I can imagine a very rough day if this individual used that phrase in my midst.

    This next year will tell if these traitors picked the right team;
    the people OR the oppressors.

    We’ll find out who’s…’sustainable’.

    If you think Agenda 21 is funny, I bet a documentary of 1930′s Europe is like a comedy.

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  8. Greg Karraker says:

    On Monday, a citizens’ group filed a letter of intent and a ballot measure with the City of Cotati. If the city persists in its plan to move ahead with the two-lane roundabout plan despite the concerns of the RAFD Fire Chief, merchants, and citizens, this group will be forced to begin collecting signatures so the issue can be put to a vote in a special election. Whether or not this happens depends completely on the city council, when they meet Wednesday, December 14 to choose between the only two plans the City Manager has offered.

    To see what some of the concerns about the two-lane plan are, visit http://www.noroundabouts.com

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  9. Social Dis-Ease says:

    To Sheryl: yeah, whenever their pet project is on WSC, the cronies come out in full force.

    A tight little cabul of oppression.

    They want it BAD.

    Bottle-necking downtown hubs.
    Another instrument of sabotage ICLEI uses.


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  10. Greg Karraker says:


    Read my last post. The issue is not about roundabouts in theory. It’s about choking four lanes of traffic down to two on a very short section of street with a stoplight at either end, then further constricting it with two roundabouts in the middle.

    Roundabouts when they are part of a free-flowing system, not as a closed system further choked by people parallel parking. One car attempting to parallel park, one backup into the roundabouts, and emergency vehicles are stuck in a pretty, vibrant, walkable downtown. Can’t any of you roundabout moonies get that simple concept through your heads?

    Agenda 21: You have it 180 degrees backwards. The only person in RAFD who has no issue with roundabouts was the former Fire Marshal. He is the one who was indicted for embezzling. The actual chief has still never been consulted, because the city doesn’t want a dose of reality intruding on their Downtown Disney fantasy.

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  11. sarkyfish says:

    But it couldn’t take more than five minutes to walk across La Plaza…etc.” And it couldn’t take more ten seconds to come up with a topic that transcends the relevance of a city hall food fight.

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  12. David Stubblebine says:

    @Fuss: “What is required is for folks who drive to use just a little bit of common sense.”
    Really?! Have you driven in Sonoma County? Common sense, courtesy, and lawfulness definitely are NOT part of the equation.

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  13. Agenda 21 LOL says:

    Well, eight un-indicted fire stations out of nine have no problem with the roundabouts!

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  14. Fuss says:

    Its amazing how resistant people are to change. All anyone needs to do is look at how roundabouts are used on the rest of the planet. They do a wonderful job of keeping traffic MOVING.

    What is required is for folks who drive to use just a little bit of common sense and take 30 seconds to understand the rules. That’s it.

    There are no public safety issues, no access issues and if they are used properly, will increase the flow of traffic versus stop lights.

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  15. Sheryl says:

    LOL The city council must be on WSC today.

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  16. Greg Karraker says:


    The issue has little to do with roundabouts. It has everything to do with a 4-lane volume of traffic being stuffed into a 2-lane passageway. This creates the real possibility that traffic will then back up into the roundabouts, leaving emergency vehicles with no way to pass. But Dianne Thompson says they’ll look lovely, so your opinion, my opinion, and Chief Treanor’s opinion are moot.

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  17. Juvenal says:

    Roundabouts are terrific. They are almost as prevalent as traffic signals in some states, such as Florida. I am not aware of any increase in buildings burning to the ground in Florida as a result of Roundabouts.

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  18. Sheryl says:

    It’s not just about the roundabouts! Just imagine a fire truck trying to get to the Chevron station at 5pm if Old Redwood Hwy is 1 lane in each direction. Burn baby burn! The fire chief should have been consulted, but of course, the city council does at it wants. Everything and everyone else be damned.

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  19. Social Dis-Ease says:

    The citizens don’t matter to Cotati City Hall.
    The business’ don’t matter.
    Their oath doesn’t matter.
    The fire cheif doesn’t matter.

    All it takes to decide about this decade old uncalled for ‘project’ is some good intention, and a little common sense.

    All it takes to understand it’s non-sensical motivation is some understanding of ICLEI/Smart Growth.

    The masks are falling,
    that’s what this chapter is all about.

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  20. Greg Karraker says:


    Instead of asking why Chief Treanor didn’t ask about a plan he was neither informed of nor consulted on, the question should be why was he not consulted. Cotati staff went out of their way to ask every other fire chief their opinion of roundabouts in general, but never asked about this specific traffic-choking plan.

    When the chief heard about indirectly, he wrote the letter expressing his concerns on October 24. (I can fax you a copy, if you like.) To this date, nobody from the city council or staff has had the courtesy or professionalism to ask his opinion.

    Finally, fed up with the stonewalling from the city, he walked into the city manager’s office unannounced and asked to see a copy. This was approximately ten days ago. As I understand, he still has to be convinced this plan will provide adequate public safety.

    So is culpable here? The chief, for being deliberately being left out of an important decision-making process? Or city staff and council, including “ex-fireman Mark Landman”, who will use astounding amounts of omissions, spin, and lies to stuff this plan down our throats?

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