Lessons from Hurricane Irma: 1. Roundabouts

West Boca News has often advocated for roundabouts. Hurricane Irma showed us another advantage. When the power went out so did traffic lights, and our intersections became chaotic nightmares. Roundabouts are unaffected by power outages.
In general they’re safer and more efficient than regular intersections. Carmel Indiana converted over 100 intersections to roundabouts and saw “a 40% decrease in accidents, with an 80% decrease in injury-causing crashes and90% reduction in fatalities.” By comparison its non-roundabout neighbor Indianapolis saw: “a 30 percent increase in accidents with injury and a 16 percent increase in accidents resulting in a fatality ….”
I was discussing this with a friend who lives south of Glades off Lyons. FDOT is in the middle of a $1.8 million dollar project on Lyons. The main problem was the high volume of serious accidents at or near the intersection on Lyons with Escondido Way, the entrances to Escondido and Timbers of Boca. The so-called solution: straighten the curves and bank the roadway. Not only does this fail to address the intersection itself, but it will allow traffic on Lyons to go faster, making the intersection even more dangerous.
FDOT was more concerned with cars going off the road due to excessive speed on the curves, but their crash analysis did not break down severity by type of accident. Anyone who drives there knows that making a left turn onto Lyons there from either side is uncomfortable at best.
It is well known that roundabouts make intersections safer, but FDOT and our local politicians ignore that. Instead FDOT is increasing the speed of traffic entering an intersection known to be dangerous.
Below are a series of images showing what the intersection of Lyons and Escondido would look like with a Carmel roundabout superimposed on it. The images and map data are from Google Maps.




Many of our readers dismiss roundabouts with quick responses. Let’s be clear – Carmel Indiana saw a 90% reduction in traffic fatalities by converting many intersections to roundabouts. You can only oppose roundabouts if you want more people to die. Roundabouts save lives.

Car Burglar Arrested – Olympic Heights Alum Caught on Video

Hunter Brett (19). Mugshot from PBSO.
Hunter Brett (19). Mugshot from PBSO.

The Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office arrested Hunter Brett (19) on two counts of car burglary. The arrest happened on Tuesday the 23rd. Brett is a former student of Olympic Heights High School.
On August 15th a reader forwarded us this video showing the car burglaries as they happened:

We posted the video on our Facebook page and commenters helped identify Brett as the likely burglar.
We reached out to the victim in this incident, who said the following:

We are grateful to the West Boca News and its readers for their help in catching this criminal. Let this be a lesson to other criminals that this is a tight knit community and we look out for each other.

Mr. Brett has developed a substantial court history in his short time as an adult. We don’t know what charges he may have faced as a juvenile. What we can see started in December of 2015 with two felony burglary counts and two misdemeanor counts. He was released on $6000 bond (usually meaning someone pays $600 to a bondsman).
While that was pending he was arrested in February in Broward facing five different counts including a first degree felony aggravated battery on a police officer, a felony resisting with violence and two drug felonies. He was released on $11,000 bond ($1100 to a bondsman).
For some reason we cannot explain, the pending burglary felonies in Palm Beach County were then resolved with “pre-trial diversion” which is usually a favorable result for a defendant – no jail time and a relatively clean record.
In June he was arrested again on drug charges, at least one of which was a felony. He was released on $5000 bond ($500 to a bondsman).
Now he’s been arrested for a fourth time. It’s not completely clear from the court records but we think bond was set at $23,000 this afternoon.
The last address we have for Mr. Brett is in the Lakes at Boca Raton (north of Yamato near Cain). He is being represented by public defenders on all the cases mentioned. For the first burglary case it appears he was rejected from the diversion program in August and the case has been reopened.
At this writing he remains in custody. Perhaps he will get out and resume visiting area cars again soon. Of course he is innocent until proven guilty. But since it seems likely that he will be doing significant state prison time, some might wonder why they keep letting him out. This soft approach to bail is commonplace in South Florida but unusual in other parts of the state.