Roundabout one of two options for North and Barker intersection

Saddle up Brookfield. We’re doing it again.

A brief conversation with Craig Donze of One Source Consulting confirms that a roundabout is being presented for Waukesha County’s improvement of North and Barker. A traditional signalized intersection has also been drawn for Wednesday night’s presentation.

Opposed to the roundabout concept? 4th District Alderman Steve Ponto and Mayor Jeff Speaker. Neutral: 4th District Alderman Mark Nelson, and for what it’s worth, me. Encouraged: Director of Community Development Dan Ertl.

A roundabout at this intersection, and then candidate Jeff Speaker’s opposition to the city’s proposal, is one of the issues that whisked Speaker to victory in 2002. The city handed the intersection over to Waukesha County shortly after that election. Now it’s the county board’s decision as to which design prevails.


The meeting will be held on Wednesday August 6, 2008 at the City of Brookfield in the Common Council chambers between 4:30 and 7:00 pm.


  1. I guarantee you that their are more accidents at small roundabouts than at light-controlled intersections. These are terrible methods to control traffic due to the lane changes that are required by drivers who generally seem to be poor drivers these days. Expensive, inefficient, and unneeded. Who keeps driving this idea?

  2. I’m skeptical of the roundabout approach also. A busy roundabout requires some give-and-take merging, which we don’t seem to be very good at. Accidents would probably be less severe (side swiping vs broad-siding) but still a big problem.

    I think the engineers are probably driving the idea, Grant. On paper, as a matter of efficient through put, they look good–the same way temporary lane closures could work if everyone slowed down a little and yielded for others to merge. Instead we try to line up and hold our territory.

  3. Obama Mama says:

    In addition roundabouts mean less wear and tear on the car and better gas efficiency (no start/stop). However, I’m not to certain many of my fellow soccer moms, in their big SUVs, could handle the concept. The idea though is very European, and we all know how cultured everyone loves to be, or at least pretend.

  4. My first question would be have you ever lived in a city where roundabouts exsist? I used to before I moved here to Milwaukee.. in fact we have over 12 roundabouts in my hometown. There were three right by the local highschool. I have to admit that when school let out traffic was backed up, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it was when there were stoplights in place. They acutally reduce accident numbers and are more time efficient if used correctly. It is the same concept as four way stops, but with a continuous flow.
    New Berlin just added a two lane roundabout off off its Moorland street exit and it seems to be catching on. (though I think 2 lanes is pushing it and as Obama Mama stated we like to think we are cultured, but two lanes may be pushing it)

    Try a roundabout before you judge them.

  5. I used to live in Ireland where there are roundabouts all over. You get used to them, but then again everyone there knows the rules of the road. For the most part they are efficient and keep the traffic moving (for the most part, but don’t get me going about traffic in Ireland.) I’m not against them, but I can understand how people can be apprehensive about something they are not familiar with. By the way, we just got a roundabout outside of my subdivision in Franklin. I think they’re fun.

  6. I’ve tried the roundabout on Moorland, and now I try very hard to avoid it. I would say that except for one or two times, I’ve seen cars cut each other off by switching lanes within the roundabout. Maybe I’m not “educated” enough about roundabout etiquette, but I assumed you need to stay in your lane as you go through.

    On Friday night, traffic was almost backed up on to the expressway with people waiting to go through the roundabout. I’ve never seen that happen before with the previous intersection.

    I’ve lived in England, and I know some people that were born and raised there. Their reaction when we talk about the increasing number of roundabouts in the area: “Why on earth would you do something like that?”

  7. Some lane changing is necessary, or it’s just a fancy u-turn for the center lane.

    My university had some, but only in less-traveled areas. Paris has huge roundabouts where several streets come together; scared me, but the natives did fine.

    C. Adams, or someone else with experience, what are the rules for navigating a roundabout?

  8. I was told this is a two lane design. The only unusual thing is that a driver yields to the left, or inside lane, instead of the right, which is intuitive for American drivers.

    Kathryn, the spouse has a few all-time favorite movie scenes, and one of them is Chevy Chase stuck doing circles around the Arc de Triomphe in National Lampoon’s European Vacation.

  9. BrkfldDad says:

    Ignorance is bliss…

    Roundabouts — with their slower speeds and fewer conflict points — typically result in a 76 percent reduction in injury accidents, a 90 percent reduction in fatalities, and a 40 percent reduction in pedestrian injuries, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

    I encourage everyone to look at this, especially exhibit 5-9. Perhaps the only concerning thing is American drivers don’t seem to be as safe in roundabouts as other countries. I’d say that reflects more on us, than the safety of roundabouts!

    Having driven them in the UK, as well as now in many American cities, I am all for them.

  10. BrkfldDad says:

    minus the comma – sorry!

  11. Anonymous says:

    the scene you’re talking about in national lampoons vacation is around Big Ben / Parliament in London….not the Arc de Triumph in Paris

  12. Really? Another family legend bites the dust. Maybe we were in the circle around the Arc de Triomphe when he recalled the movie…

  13. Anonymous says:

    chevy chase keeps saying “big ben…parliament” every time he goes around.

  14. BrkfldDad says:
  15. Obama Mama says:

    I’ve tried the roundabout in West Bend, as we have family out there, and it seems to me that people are rather cautious and courteous to other drivers as they are a bit foreign to all of us. And given the statistics by BrkfldDad I say why not give it a try?!

  16. I wonder if putting a roundabout there would do anything to the condo developement on the SE corner of that intersection. We moved here four years ago, and I’ve watch basically nothing happen on that development since then.

  17. BrkfldDad says:

    SE corner of Barker and North is wetlands and a river! Are you thinking of Springdale and North?

  18. @BrkfldDad – Yeah, my mistake (though isn’t there one proposed there too?).

    I drove that stretch of North Ave for so long when I worked in Pewaukee that those two intersections sort of blur together in my mind.

  19. C. Adams says:

    The point is that people don’t like change and roundabouts are most likely something new for most people. They are safer than ligth controlled intersections, but they do take some patience at first. So do large parkng structures, they both require some system of give and take.

    As for a set system there really isn’t one. Its first come first serve, right away fashion. Note: always use blinkers when exiting a roundabout, it helps the other drivers know they can enter

  20. For you roundabout fans, I will point out that I have driven them in Seoul, Korea and in Kingston, NY and in both cases they were considerably larger than the intersect at North and Barker would allow. Even with being so large, they require caution and as Kathryn stated we aren’t very good at that. If efficiency and fuel economy were any consideration, which I doubt, I could show the governments countless stoplights on arterials that operate all night stopping vehicles needlessly.

  21. BrkfldDad says:

    Interesting, it looks like a roundabout actually is narrower than a 4 lane signaled intersection and takes less private land away from the owners.