Lakewood Mayor Ray Coles responds to your ‘Ask The Mayor’ questions: Roundabouts

mayor ray coles tlsThe following is an ‘Ask The Mayor’ question submitted to TLS, and the Mayor’s response. Email your questions for the Mayor to [email protected].


Dear Mayor,

Congrats and welcome. Actually, I am new here from Israel. In Israel and many European countries they successfully use roundabouts for intersections and it saves on traffic and on money. Can you please study their success story to determine how to make it work here as well?

Below are some thoughts but not part of my question:

It needs to be a wide circle. Not as wide as I have seen in Brooklyn and Passaic but a bit wider than Oak St. and Albert. This is a science that we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. I can go to Israel with a tape measure and clarify it for you.

It must have NO stop signs. Doing stop signs and a roundabout together is like mixing fleishigs and milchigs if you know what I mean because then motorists need to look both at the other corners and at traffic within the roundabout. By 4-way stop signs by a roundabout people first look at the other 3 corners. Then, when you see the other car moving into the roundabout you think it’s turning the other way but you forget it’s just coming around and you don’t remember to check traffic within the roundabout. By a proper roundabout you’re only checking one thing: if there is traffic already within the roundabout.

How many times do motorists just sit at 4-way stops because one of them is not sure who is first? This is a disaster during high peak traffic. Please, please do the roundabouts. And do them right.

Thank you,


Response from Mayor Ray Coles:

Thank you & welcome to Lakewood

Roundabouts were prevalent here many years ago, but most have been phased out over the years. There are a few left on Rt. 70 & 34. They were mainly used in areas where higher speed, major roads & highways met. Generally they were not used in residential areas. I do not know the reason for abandoning them, but will ask the traffic engineers we recently hired to look into the idea and see if any would be appropriate. The Oak & Albert spot was not put in to be a roundabout. It was installed as a traffic calming device to make sure cars had to slow down in this school area, as opposed to potentially turning Oak into a speedway.

4 way stops signs do take some getting used to. These are a relatively new phenomena around here. I’ve learned that a little patience & common courtesy go a long way to making them a very efficient traffic control device.



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  1. Roundabouts were a great discovery for us when we moved to Israel. They are so simple and safe! Just one easy-to-understand rule. They are all over the residential areas of Jerusalem, where two main roads meet or where a side road meets a main one. They are used both in densely populated and sparsely populated neighborhoods. In the latter, they certainly prevent high-speed collisions. When a car is coming around the roundabout, you are sure to see it coming! I’ve been here 25 years and I still say this is a great idea!

  2. Oak St today is a major thoroughfare, with either bumper to bumper traffic or cars wizing by, the circle does nothing to slow it down. during quieter times cars just drive right over the circle. And the home owners loose the most

  3. The roundabout at Albert and Oak was there long before it was a school zone. The school rezoning is a relatively new development considering that the area was once strictly residential. The new 4 way stop at that intersection is simply because of the rezoning and the roundabout should now be removed, as it is useless. I believe the reason why it hasn’t been removed is because it hasn’t been brought up as such. Now that it is a matter of discussion, please have it removed.

  4. Dear Mr. Coles,
    Congratulations, I am wishing you success.
    I would like to know who appoints zoning board/planning board members. In general, I think it would be a good idea to totally replace all those guys and get some new guys in. They have been around a while and I think it is fair to say that the current overcrowding/traffic conditions can be laid squarely at their feet. In my neighborhood, ONE house was knocked down and EIGHT townhouses were put in it’s place.
    It is an eyesore. Neighbors tried to fight it but were unsuccessful. I believe that if neighbors oppose such a project they should be heard! A few years later, a builder wanted to do a similar type of project and when I went to the twp meeting, I was told that since there is a similar type of project right across the street, this would also get approved. So now there are TWO eyesores. I have been living in the same spot for 23 years and the neighborhood has gone from a quiet suburban area to mini city.
    Common sense – a good general rule is that when one house goes down, one house can replace it. If they want to build a bigger house (within reason) that should be okay. But to build multiple houses should be immediately denied!!

    Thank you !

  5. Dear Mr. Mayor, Congrats and good luck on your new term,
    to assist ems in finding two large apartment buildings in town, that are misaddressed, they put up big signage “Princeton Ave”. This is far from the truth (and far from Princeton Ave too!) and causes confusion to the surrounding neighbors on East 6th and 7th streets. Please either change the address to a real legitimate address or place them in parentheses with clear marking of East 6th and 7th streets. Thank you and good luck

  6. The township created a trafic nightmare on Oak St with all the schools, in addition there will be all the cafra traffic bringing 1000s of more cars
    Turning oak St in to a major thoroughfare, if we are going to build duplexes in this town they should be done on already busy streets, not on side St, as of now oak is in a r20 zone with major traffic running through it should be changed to r10 to reflect the new reality, as the the township has destroyed home owner value by turning what was once a sleepy side St in to a highway.

  7. Dear Diego .

    I’m very bothered by laying the blame on The zoning and planning boards . They are good people who possibly made mistakes over the years .

    Yes the eyesores and extra squeezing is a decision made by them . However A) They are appointed by the committee , so are somewhat subservient to accommodate the Townships vision B) Almost all large scale development in Lakewood are a result of map zoning and rezoning done by the Committee directly .Either by general high density zoning or by rezoning many areas . Examples Being a “hospital support zone ” in the Williams St area , or Oak Street corridor.

    Now again they aren’t bad people , actually have dedicated their lives to help us and honestly get egg in their face instead of recognition. They just need to man up and face the fact that this was done without infrastructure and without assessing an impact fee when developing to be used for infrastructure. Hindsight is 20/20 vision , so its easy and cheap to criticize the past . But not really fixing and instead patching is the real issue .

  8. Stop. Issuing unnecessary variances to builders. Builders can build anyplace. The only ones who gain anything are the retired land owners who take the money and move elsware. In addition every house built causes taxes to go up. That is a fact.

  9. Dear Mayor Coles,
    I appreciate what you wrote to Mr. Diego delineating the infrastructure in decision-making with regarding to rezoning. We do realize that the zoning board answers to and work in direct alliance with the Board. Honestly, though, I don’t think you addressed the concern presented.
    I have resided in Lakewood for nearly 26 years and I could have easily predicted the grid lock and unsavory traffic patterns that we are experiencing, not to mention the dramatic change in appearance and milieu of the town. Let’s be honest and recognize that many of the decisions that were made on a government level were done for the betterment of a few – namely businessmen who were vested in the perpetual construction. This does not appear to be correct in ethical terms, and It is simply unfair.
    I, believe that I represent a large percentage of this town by asking that we stop the building – there should be an moratorium on all rezoning until we reach some safe and acceptable quality of life for those who chose to live here.
    To support my point, I saw some public workers collecting bulk trash on a Saturday morning. When I asked about the change in schedule, they said – “This town is huge, we simply can’t keep up.”
    Thank you in advance for your support (to the commoners).

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