Oak Park

San Diego, Oak Park Residents at Odds Over Whether Roundabouts Made Street Dangerous

A neighbor told NBC 7 there had been 8 car accidents on Streamview Drive in 18 months

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Marie Grace is still sweeping up shards of glass, clumps of stucco and what’s left of the white fence that protected her Oak Park home. 

Grace's car looks like it was stomped on by a giant: The roof is caved in, the windows are shattered, and bits and pieces of debris rest on what was once a shiny hood.

On Saturday, as Grace chatted on the phone with a girlfriend, she heard a loud crash. When she looked outside, she saw a car had jumped the curb in front of her house, mowed down the fence, and slammed into her car and garage. The driver jumped out, and San Diego police chased him, making an arrest several minutes later.

“Thank you, San Diego Police,” for catching him, said Grace, who still doesn’t know why officers were chasing him on her street, Streamview Drive.

It’s a street that’s seen more than its fair share of crashes, say neighbors, who admit this one was a bit different because of the police involvement.

“There have been eight — EIGHT — 8 major accidents in the last 18 months,” said Grace’s next-door neighbor, April Mahoney.

Mahoney and other area residents told NBC7 that since the city of San Diego installed a roundabout on Streamview six years ago, the crashes have become more frequent. Mahoney also lost a car, in her case when a speeding vehicle hit the one parked in her driveway. Another neighbor had to rebuild a wall around her property after a speeding car took it out.

“Look at that,” said Mahoney pointing at the curving roadway that leads to the traffic circle. “Is that the ugliest thing? We need some signage. I don’t know if I’m coming or going. It’s confusing.” 

Mahoney and her neighbors say the curve throws drivers off, and that leads to crashes. They claim it does nothing to slow drivers down.

“It is a major design flaw,” said Mahoney, who pledged to take her fight to the media and to city hall.

“This design is unacceptable, and we’ve talked and we’ve talked," Mahoney said. 'We’re not gonna talk any more. We’re gonna protest, whatever we have to do. We’re trying to save our lives."

NBC 7 reached out to the city of San Diego to ask if the neighbors’ claims are valid.  A city representative sent the following response:

The roundabouts on Streamview Drive were installed in 2016. This stretch of road was selected for this project as it had a high number of crashes prior to these improvements.

Statistics published by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration show that roundabouts have the following advantages over conventional intersections:

  • 90% reduction in fatalities
  • 76% reduction in injuries
  • 35% reduction in pedestrian accidents

It will take a few days to get the official data, but preliminary results show that injury crashes have been significantly reduced in this corridor since the roundabouts were installed, and may even exceed 76% reduction of injury crashes, compared to before the roundabouts were installed. Data available here through the end of 2021 shows zero severe or fatal crashes in this corridor since 2016.

Roundabouts are a safer alternative to traditional intersections for several reasons:

  • There are 32 vehicle conflict points in a traditional intersection and only 8 conflict points in a single-lane roundabout. The lower number of conflict points translates to less potential for accidents.
  • Since drivers only have to look in one direction for conflicting vehicles when entering a roundabout, they have more opportunity to see and compensate for a mistake of others.  
  • Roundabouts eliminate left turns, a leading cause of injury crashes. 
  • Design elements, curbs and islands in the roundabouts cause drivers to reduce their speeds.

The City's Engineering and Capital Projects Department anticipates that Phase 2 of this project will complete 100% design in November 2022. At that point a community meeting will be scheduled to update Council District 4, the appropriate planning groups and residents about the design and receive their feedback. After receiving feedback, the design is expected to be finalized in Spring 2023, with construction tentatively planned to begin in Fall 2023.   

Engineering and Capital Projects staff have also been providing the community updates during the planning and design process for Phase 2, presenting to Eastern Area Community Planning Committee in March of 2022 and Groundworks in May of 2022.

Transportation staff will field check and verify that all appropriate signage is in place on Streamview this week.

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