• Nov 28, 2010
Roundabouts are the scourge of many a motorist and a favorite calming device of traffic engineers, and they're spreading like crazy across the United States roadscape. As anyone who's had the joy of driving in Massachusetts or New Jersey will tell you, plenty of drivers have absolutely no idea when to yield or how to successfully navigate these rings of macadam.

According to The New York Times, the fertile Midwest has sprouted a bumper crop of these sometimes-confusing intersections, with 100 popping up in Wisconsin since 2004, and almost 100 blooming in Kansas, as well. Other states have a richness of roundabouts; Maryland has nearly 200, for example; and there's more on the drawing board across the nation.

Despite a public that's apparently skeptical of the change, there are plenty of positives to roundabouts. Speeds are low, and any crashes that do occur are less severe because the head-on collision is virtually eliminated. Emissions are also purportedly lower because there's less starting and stopping (though drivers waiting in epic backups approaching these things might disagree), they don't require electricity to operate and they keep traffic moving simultaneously in multiple directions. Since they do seem to be the favorite device of traffic engineers, roundabouts won't be going away any time soon, so we're all going to get the chance to try them out. Like brussels sprouts at Thanksgiving dinner, they might even turn out to not be so bad.

[Source: The New York Times | Image: Una Smith via CC 2.0]


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  • 115 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      they are a lot of fun to drive in circles late at night when no one else is around! ;P
      • 4 Years Ago
      Brussel Sprouts will always be bad; however, round-a-bouts are mostly a good thing. Americans are not used to them and as such don't know how to navigate them very well (yet). They have proliferated in the rest of the civilized world since the beginning of the motor age. It's about time we embraced our rounder selves and build more of these and resign traffic lights to the Smithsonian.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I didn't read all the comments but it boils down to one thing. Education or the lack of it. American's are uneducated drivers for the most part. Most moan and hiss about learning anything new.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I guess Americans get confused when they have to turn right.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Yeah. We have one of those in my town. Everyone else calls it "The Circle". I call it "The Skidpad".
      • 4 Years Ago
      There's a few roundabouts where I live and traffic flows alright. The real problem here isn't so much ignorant drivers but that in addition to a four street conjunction there's several business parking spaces along the entire roundabout between the roads. Trying to leave those spots can be a nightmare.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I laugh at all the puny circles you whiners are posting. Check out this monstrosity:

      http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Somerville+Circle,+Raritan,+NJ&sll=40.575504,-74.628437&sspn=0.002221,0.003814&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Somerville+Cir,+Raritan,+Somerset,+New+Jersey+08869&t=k&z=16

      My favorite is when the dude stuck in the middle lane for three revolutions decides to break for it and turn 90 degrees right in front of you. Best of all, if you call 911, they will ask you what "side" of the circle you're on, so they know which of the three police jurisdictions to call.
      • 4 Years Ago
      One simple rule that the government needs to teach drivers. If you intend to stay in the circle - keep your left hand turn signal on. When ready to exit - signal right. Roundabouts would work great is every drive did this!
      • 4 Years Ago
      I live in the city where we have more roundabouts than an entire state! We can always tell outsiders from locals from the way they navigate through roundabouts, from hilarious to downright suicidal idiocy. But when you get used to them, it's the fastest way across town.

      Some of my mates from outside the city complained about the sheer numbers of these infernal donuts but usually getting used to em, I heard them said "why cant they just built a roundabouts here instead of these stupid stoplights?" at their place. That's the reason why you have more than 100,000 of 'em in europe, it just make sense.

      We have 1/3 mile (diameter) roundabouts, 10 yard roundabouts, ovals (fav stop for young budding illegal racers), roundabouts with stop lights, roundabout with stop sign 3 way roundabouts and, well pretty much every flavor you can think of. The only roundabouts that I hate are the ones with stoplights esp at midnight.
      • 4 Years Ago
      If your in the inside lane of a two-lane roundabout during heavy traffic, you pretty much shot yourself in the foot. Good luck getting out of that trap. The Simpsons had an episode where they were in Britain and stuck in a roundabout.
        • 4 Years Ago
        On your average two-lane roundabout, the right lane is for going right or straight ahead, and the left lane is for going left or straight ahead, just like your average four-lane lighted intersection. The left/inner driver is never impeded from exiting provided righty beside him doesn't think he can turn left. When the populace grow up with two-lane roundabouts, by-and-large, they don't make this mistake.
      • 4 Years Ago
      With a radius over 30 but under 50 meters, in fairly low traffic, roundabouts are drift heaven. Traffic lights are so lame compared to these lovely round slabs of Tarmac ;)
      • 4 Years Ago
      Look at this bad boy in England, one big roundabout with twoway traffic with 6 little (1 way traffic) roundabouts for the exits.

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