Monday, May 27, 2013


Our area is slow to adapt to new trends in traffic management.  Great Britain has had roundabouts for a few hundred years; we're just starting to get a few scattered here and there.  They certainly make sense as a substitute for intersections which would otherwise be a 4-way stop.  But we're resistant to change.

I've got a silly little route that I sometimes ride when I need 20 minutes to wind down... it's probably a 4-mile circle from my garage door... but it includes four roundabouts!  Two are on a public road, and the other two are in a private (hospital) drive. (You'd think one of the hospital roundabouts would feature a shelter, with a pretty nurse selling poppies from a tray!)  (Nod to Lennon & McCartney.)

That's probably half the roundabouts in the county.


Scott said...

Having biked a number of roundabouts - my earliest being a multi-highway monstrocity in Huntington Beach, CA at the age of 14, and more recent ones being in Europe and Africa - I don't care for them at all.

To their credit, they are space savers for highway engineers since no turn lane is required, and thus they permit the construction of a traffic median.

The problem is with the people who drive in them. Drivers have to continually vie for the inner and outter lanes depending on whether they're going further into the turn or exiting. You know the frustration of trying to get onto an exit ramp? Try that every couple miles.

More dangerous though is the tendency of straight-through traffic drawing as much of a straight line as possible through the circle. That is, traffic that approaches the circle from the outter lane, veers into the inner lane as they go through the circle, and veer back to the outter lane as they exit it. It makes for a very, very bad situation, especially for bikes.

I suppose like most traffic situations, though, it's not the infrastructure I dislike, but the people using it.

Marcus said...

Yes, education is necessary for the roundabout to work. A well built roundabout will virtually eliminate head-on collisions and T-bone collisions, all fatal dangers to all road users. I have experience using the moderately trafficked roundabouts and have enjoyed them more than the T intersections that are so prevalent.

Bikeboy said...

Scott, I can see your point. I have very limited exposure to the multi-lane, heavy-traffic roundabouts, and can imagine they would be pretty dicey on a bicycle.

Every roundabout I've seen in this area services a 2-lane road in each direction, and is just one-lane-in-a-circle. And is pretty tranquil.