August 26, 2017

The solution that's a problem: the roundabout.

I'll have to look up how much money was spent on this thing and how it was promoted as a wonderful solution to something, but "Roundabout on Madison's Far West Side has become a crash magnet":
Last year, there were 47 crashes at the huge, multi-lane roundabout, which was 12 more than in 2015. One of the busiest of the five roundabouts in the city, it has averaged 38.4 crashes per year in the five full years that it has been open.
And the city traffic engineer blames us: “Too many drivers still don’t know what they are doing in a roundabout.”

We were talking about roundabouts here on the blog just last June. I quoted The New Yorker:
"When ["Yes" frontman Jon] Anderson sang, 'I’ll be the roundabout,' most American listeners surely had no idea that he was referring to the kind of intersection known less euphoniously, in the U.S., as a traffic circle..."

79 comments:

Michael K said...

I can see how, if they are uncommon, they would be a problem. They take a lot of room but in England they are ubiquitous and runj smoothly.

Rusty said...

Curious George will back me up on this. Des Plaines has/had a roundabout on Wolf and Golf roads. If you're used to it it's pretty easy to get around. If you've never used one before it can be quite intimidating. I've actually watched people try and go the opposite direction.

SweatBee said...

I've driven on roundabouts in Europe and in Wisconsin, and the traffic engineer is right: Wisconsin drivers don't know what they're doing on a roundabout. Chicago drivers, either, for that matter. Too many treat it like a 4-way stop and almost nobody has been shown how to use their turn signals (not a big deal on the little one-lane ones, but you really need to on the larger ones).

That doesn't mean it's 100% the fault of the drivers, mind you. Since Wisconsin drivers don't know what to do with roundabouts, then perhaps a roundabout was not the best choice for that intersection to begin with.

Rusty said...

That's Des Plaines in the peoples republic of Illinois.

Chris Arabia said...

In Boston area they are called rotaries. Or used to be called rotaries. The one near the prison in Concord is at the intersection of a four lane divided highway and route 2A and a residential street. I remember being stuck in the middle of it many times because the people entering never stopped. Hate'em.

Expat(ish) said...

It took four years for the one in Durham to stop causing accidents and be faster than the stoplight it replaced.

There are now three or four new ones where I live in SFW and I stay the heck away from them.

-XC

rehajm said...

Had the traffic geniuses spent a few days driving the rotarys in Eastern Massachusetts they never would have thought rouandabouts were a good idea.

rhhardin said...

It works okay here. The gain is faster traffic.

The chief problem with small ones is that there's no way to tell if the guy in the cirle is leaving at the exit he's coming to or continuing to circle, and not enough time to guess wrong.

Hagar said...

One thing I really liked about America when I first came was that there were no traffic circles, or "round-abouts," here.

Laslo Spatula said...

"When ["Yes" frontman Jon] Anderson sang, 'I’ll be the roundabout'"...

All Good People can't necessarily navigate the Roundabout.

Take a straight and stronger course to the corner of your life, he says.

I am Laslo.

rehajm said...

The future of roundabouts.

rehajm said...

Big Ben. Parliament.

gspencer said...

Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes
A four of fish and finger pies
In summer, meanwhile back

Behind the shelter in the middle of a roundabout
The pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray
And though she feels as if she's in a play
She is anyway

And I know all about that Route 2 rotary in Concord.

Michael The Magnificent said...

Roundabouts are a commie plot.

Hagar said...

It's a passing fad among the traffic engineers and progressive city planners.

tcrosse said...

In Britain, a carousel is called a roundabout.

TerriW said...

Rusty: small world alert!

I live not too far from that roundabout and go out of my way to avoid it.

jwl said...

I am Canadian who didn't get his driver's license until I moved to England after university. When I took driving lessons, I would say about 20% of total time was spent on roundabouts, learning how they work. I remember one roundabout was four lanes and it had twelve entry points into it, it was monster that my instructor made me spend a lot of time learning.

Roundabouts are not standard in Canada either but one medium sized city near me has installed them and I hate driving through because no one knows how to use them properly. Apparently driving schools don't pay too much attention to them, nor have standard rules have been developed, and it is just craziness. One lane roundabout is easy enough but once they expand to two or more lanes than there should be established rules or behaviours that everyone is expected to follow.

Ray said...

Is the issue with turn about a cultural issue?

The first one I encountered was in Orange, Ca.

The one I best remember, pre GPS driving, was in Boston while at a trade show. I made the wrong turn off, till the last day.

Mary Beth said...

Is it possible that the ones in Europe work better because the lane changes needed are easier when everyone isn't driving an SUV?

Mark said...

Bet there are less fatal accidents at that intersection.

That roundabout in particular suffers during rush hour as one entrance tends to dominate traffic and Wisconsin drivers are stupid assholes behind the wheel (and I am a local saying that).

We are also unable to zipper merge here, which is IMO a related driving inability.

I like the one I commute through daily .... i never wait as long as i used to when there was a light and most times never have to come to a stop. Much faster on average.

traditionalguy said...

Basic hand eye coordination meets Cheese and Curds intoxication and surprise , surprise.

Rob McLean said...

And the city traffic engineer blames us: “Too many drivers still don’t know what they are doing in a roundabout.”

Would it not be easier
In that case for the traffic engineer
To dissolve the drivers
And elect others?

Ray said...

City of Claremont, of Claremont college fame, added one on Indian Hill, then took it out. This happened 12 years ago.

traditionalguy said...

Tiajuana Taxi is a wild ride. Roundabouts are learnable by most people unless they are into being rebellious.

Ray said...

Database of round abouts in the US:
http://roundabout.kittelson.com

Bob R said...

I grew up with lots of traffic circles in New Jersey. My experience is that they don't scale well. They work as advertised up to a certain volume of traffic and then fail miserably. They've taken most of them out of NJ. We've put several of them in here in small town Blacksburg and they work fine - even on move-in weekend like this. They are supposed to be confusing and make you nervous. As opposed to the "green light - close my eyes and floor it" mentality.

Paddy O said...

I'm too lazy to look it up now, but I'm pretty sure that freedom from roundabouts was one of the reasons included in the Declaration of Independence.

Roundabouts are designed and supported by those same people who have European country stickers on their bumpers.

Paddy O said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fritz said...

They put one on the biggest intersection of our tiny town. I laughed about it but it works. It slows traffic through the intersection, but rarely stops it, unless some old geezer thinks they need to stop before going around it.

I do remember one night late after it had recently been built, seeing some teenagers go around it several times just for fun. Like I said, it's a small town.

Mike near Seattle said...

Roundabouts are popping up all over in western Washington state. On the whole I find them much less annoying than traffic signals.

My first encounter with roundabouts, though, was while traveling in England some years ago, where in addition to having to drive on the wrong side of the road, I had to navigate these weird circular intersections. They terrified me until I figured out that I could just continue to circle the roundabout until I was sure which exit I needed to take.

Ann Althouse said...

"I can see how, if they are uncommon, they would be a problem. They take a lot of room but in England they are ubiquitous and run smoothly."

Do they run smoothly in England because they are common or because the drivers are English.

It'd be funny if the answer was: because they go clockwise.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

So what are you saying, the people in your city are too stupid to figure out how to use one of those things?

I'll admit however that they're best when small. The really large ones are probably a better idea in places where the drivers are already used to regularly using roundabouts of many different sizes.

Mark said...

That's the thing about progressive areas - they go along with every "hip" and trendy thing, declaring it to be an improvement and "smart" because all the smart people say it is.

Another favorite, this time as a supposed "traffic calming" "safety measure" -- making traffic lanes narrower (and therefore more dangerous since vehicles are more likely to collide with other vehicles on either side). That's right, making things more hazardous makes them safer. Meanwhile, they demonstrate the idiocy of that "smart engineering" by widening bike lanes to make them safer, since a wider lane gives more of a buffer zone).

roadgeek said...

My hometown in Texas had a large one where two highways split/merged, and everyone in this town knew how to handle "The Circle", as it was known. I had an accident on the Circle once, but it was caused by an out of town driver.

Ann Althouse said...

It's the general problem of merging, such as on a highway when a lane ahead is closed.

People have different levels of timidity and aggression and are suddenly required to interact with others who they don't know. Some react by holding back and some by rushing forward. You don't know what you're getting. A simple traffic light imposes a comprehensible standard of behavior on everyone. So do stop signs.

rcocean said...

Roundabouts only work when they're small and traffic is light.

There's nothing worse then being in a large roundabout with heavy traffic, and everyone is changing lanes and cutting across each other.

Definitely UnAmerican.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

So the consensus on roundabouts here is that they work best when small? Kind of like government?

That's it, then. All roads and roundabouts larger than two lanes in one direction are hereby prohibited.

The god of small government will be very impressed.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

There's nothing worse then being in a large roundabout with heavy traffic, and everyone is changing lanes and cutting across each other.

Definitely UnAmerican.


Lol. Yes! If there's anything Americans are really good at it's avoiding the impulse to jockey for advantage over one another. Obviously! So uncompetitive.

tcrosse said...

The Grandpappy of all traffic circles winds around the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and is inhabited by French drivers.

Place de l'√Čtoile

Jim Grey said...

I live and work near Carmel, Indiana, which has a ton of roundabouts. I drive through Carmel every day. I remember this town before roundabouts, and the miles-long backups at all the 4-way stops at rush hour. The roundabouts have absolutely, positively allowed traffic to flow faster and more smoothly, and ended those rush-hour backups.

They take a little time to learn. But once learned, you navigate them unconsciously. And you start wishing every 4-way stop could be converted.

Tommy Duncan said...

I remember one roundabout was four lanes and it had twelve entry points into it, it was monster that my instructor made me spend a lot of time learning.

Roundabouts are for local drivers. As I discovered last night in central Wisconsin, roundabouts with poor signage are tough on visitors.

Stop and go lights give unfamiliar drivers the opportunity to read the highway signs and make decisions. Roundabouts give locals a smoother flow of traffic. Mixing visitors and locals produces problems.

Mark said...

Bet there are less fatal accidents at that intersection

Than if they simply put in stop lights?

Meanwhile, even the slightest collision at a traffic circle will cause a traffic back-up -- in all four-plus directions since it almost certainly will shut down the entire circle.

Here in D.C., we have plenty of traffic circles, some of them with not just two intersecting roads, but four or five -- and they all are regulated by traffic stop lights.

Original Mike said...

My problem with roundabouts is I first encountered them in any significant number in Australia and New Zealand, so here I always want to go around the wrong way.

Mark said...

And as someone said earlier, part of the problem is that too many drivers today do not know what an effing turn signal is, much less use them. They just slow down and you don't know why -- are they turning or merging, is there stopped traffic ahead of them, are they having mechanical failure? Who the hell knows??

Or if they do use them, it is after they have stopped and the vehicles behind them are too close to get around.

Hagar said...

Transportation engineers work to plan traffic systems to transport people and goods as efficiently and cheaply as possible.
City planners work to prevent anything like that from happening, or at least delay it and make it as difficult and expensive as possible.
Traffic engineers get to try to make the resulting mess work somehow.

traditionalguy said...

This roundabout crap will hurt Hollywood car chase scenes the hardest. How many near misses can you get with Tom Cruz being chased into a roundabout by 12 police cars from all directions.

Mark said...

As for merging, yes, timidity is a major problem that makes rush hour worse and increases the likelihood of collisions. This includes slowing down rather than going the prevailing rate of speed and even stopping on the highway -- timidity combined with a misguided sense that they are being more polite and a good person by getting over "at the end of the line" rather than moving forward until there is a gap. It also includes having a perfectly sufficient gap to move over, but taking their time to do it, instead of realizing that where there is room, you have to GO and can't putz around. And, no, you cannot expect to have a 50-foot gap in front of you in order to go. Meanwhile, traffic is bunching up behind them.

Here in D.C., on the highway, about 80-90 percent know what they are doing. And it is not being "aggressive," but aware, decisive and prompt. Including the awareness that if you have a ten-foot gap before the vehicle in front of you, someone might quickly merge over into that gap. It's the other 20-10 percent that are dangerous -- but even five percent who don't know that they are doing can turn a four-lane highway at rush hour into a parking lot. It's a matter of "he who hesitates is lost." Plus, there are plenty of passive-aggressive people among them. They won't go the prevailing speed -- unless you try to merge into their hundred-feet of open road ahead of them, in which case they suddenly hit the gas to deny you.

steve uhr said...

They are becoming very popular in MN. I always wondered why they put vegetation in the middle that obscures the view of the driver. Now I know -they do that on purpose to slow things down. What it does is increase stress and uncertainty. Maybe they should have some fake babies pop up randomly ala whack-a-mole. That would slow things down.

Howard said...

It's hard to believe, but I, too was once a roundabout denier: commie pinko eurotrash social controls don't work in the land of the free and home of the brave. Now I know, I really know, four-way stops suck. The best thing is people expect you to cut them off, so taking my born and bred LA driving style, you can be even more aggro without instigating road rage.

mockturtle said...

Some people really like roundabouts, perhaps having years of experience using the same roundabouts day after day but coming upon them occasionally in my travels, I find them a little intimidating.

The UK, of course, uses them on the freeways as on/off-ramps but on a large enough scale that they are easier to interpret. And if you miss your off ramp you can just go around again rather than having to drive some miles down the freeway to turn around.

whitney said...

One of my first roundabout experiences was driving in Plymouth England on a giant roundabout, five Lanes across. I was terrified. I got in the innermost lane and drove around it probably 15 or 20 times before I figured out what to do

Mark said...

The other hip and trendy "smart" thing, in addition to lane narrowing, is eliminating lanes -- converting a four-lane street (two in each direction) into a two-lane street (one in each direction). Which means you are going only so fast as the vehicle in the front of the line of traffic, no getting around it. And if they are putzing around, as someone invariably is, even when approaching a notorious, mis-timed traffic light, they will ensure that you get stuck at two or three cycles of the light before you can get through. (And as an added bonus, after taking their time after a long green, they will suddenly gun it when it turns yellow, ensuring that they get through, but eff-you to the person behind them who gets stuck at the red.)

Simon Kenton said...

They have put roundabouts on interstate exits at various small towns in Western Colorado, like a string of frog eggs. The offramp ends at a roundabout, there is a roundabout at the frontage road on the other side of the freeway, then one at the first street, then one at the second, etc. They are no boon to the indecisive or to those who have to share the roads with them. Ms Kenton goes to pieces dealing with one, much less with a concatenation of them. I try to time her driving stints so they start and finish at old freeway intersections: the diamonds.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

The key to understanding a roundabout, or rotary as we call them here in Massachusetts is that the car in the rotary has the right of way but the car entering the rotary has position. It's a game of chicken every time. If you live in the part of the U.S. where having the right of way means never having to take you foot off the accelerator, you're going to have problems.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

The worst rotaries are the ones that have to be taken at speed, like the one in Concord mentioned above in the comments. Or, they are the most fun, if you learn to like the game of chicken.

Mountain Maven said...

The small ones in our little town work well. Better than the stoplights they replaced. And we have a lot of tourists, who seem to figure them out

Bruce Hayden said...

My least favorite traffic circles are on Old Golden Road, west of Denver. 7 of them in 2-3 miles. 2 lanes each way. And too small - trucks (including, unfortunately, fire trucks) have to drive up over them to get through. Which is, of course, illegal though I have done it on occasion. Gotten to be ubiquitous in CO - on the recent drive from there up to here in MT, found one on the Fruita exit from I-70 (last services before UT). Very rural. We are talking across the highway from a John Deere distributor. Esp bad in the ski resort communities - great fun bombing around the one by Dillon Dam, and hitting the horn for the tourists coming off it who don't properly yield. Article awhile back in the Vail newspaper about how to tell if someone lives there. One indicia was knowing the sources of the name (easy for me - one of my mother's best friends had Vail as a maiden name - it was her grandfather). Another was how fast you did the traffic circles. Like I do the one in Dillon, though I was pretty good at those in Vail at one time.

The ski area problem points out a weakness of traffic circles. Those who drive the frequently know the timing. Those who don't do that, don't. Mixing them causes problems, and reduces their throughput to the lowest common denominator. I also dislike the ones with ultiple lanes, or that reduce to one lane for the circle. I had problems with one in Avon CO that trip. If you know the circle, you know the lane you have to be in. But that one was just off I-70,I a tourist community with the usual mix of speeding locals and everyone else clogging them up. So of course, I was in the wrong Anne for what I wanted to do. Didn't help, when I had to go around again, that my partner pointed out that I should have planned ahead better. Her ex-husband wouldn't have blown it - but then he is the guy who has had one speeding ticket in 50 years of driving. Much easier to not make mistakes when you enter the circles that much slower than anyone else.

Paddy O said...

Some people don't know how to get out of a roundabout. They keep going around in circles,even though they weren't really allowed to drive on it to begin with. They just want to hassle the traffic enforcers.

There must be a name for someone who finds joy in going around in circles, merely to piss off other people. It's odd. But, everyone has their own forbidden fruit...

Bruce Hayden said...

Part of it is familiarity. It was somewhat bad, when we were spending part of the year in CO, and the rest in MT. This time of year, we live in a county where the only stop lights are the temporary ones used for road construction (joke is - there are two seasons - winter and road construction - we are here during the latter). Now we spend the rest of the year by PHX, which hasn't yet discovered them. Or at least they aren't ubiquitous, like they are in CO (though, as noted above, their myriad shapes, sizes, speeds, and configurations cause other problems there).

Narayanan Subramanian said...

Geometry/topology education needed in middle/high school grades.
Maybe we should call them rightabout in the US.
Basically no need to make lane changes to the left = no left turns in a grid layout which all understand ... Is also UPS corporate policy/philosophy!?

Fernandinande said...

tcrosse said...
The Grandpappy of all traffic circles winds around the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and is inhabited by French drivers.
Place de l'√Čtoile


Traffic in Nice was almost like that except everyone was doing about 45 mph and some were driving on the sidewalks.

7-Circle Roundabout in Swindon.

Mike Williams said...

Lived in London for one year and then Brussels for two. The UK gives priority to the vehicle in the roundabout, so the biggest challenge was driving on the left. The much dreaded double-roundabout, however, was always a knuckle-biter.

In Belgium, priority went to vehicles on the right. Thus, if you were already in the roundabout, someone entering from your right would have the right-of-way. (I have read that priority to the right no longer applies for roundabouts in Belgium.)

My hometown recently installed a roundabout at the intersection of its Main Street and a U.S. highway business route. UK rules of the road apply. But, as one of my high school classmates quipped, the roundabout is about the size of a dinner plate. Although cars have no problems, and to my knowledge there hasn’t been a plague of fender-benders, the wayward tractor-trailer (the highway has a bypass) occasionally runs aground. Then it’s an all hands effort to refloat the rig and restore the flow of traffic.

As an aside, my U.S. compatriots in the UK – despite driving on the wrong side of the road – seemed to get along just fine. Many of those in Belgium, however, at some time or another had a traffic accident.

There was this Disney cartoon starring Goofy. He was his golly-gorsh self until behind the wheel of a car. Then he morphed into a road-rage nightmare. My Belgian neighbors were wonderful people. But Belgians behind the wheel seemed to have really short fuses. Fortunately they weren’t likely to pull a gun on you.

jaydub said...

Traffic runs much more smoothly and the gas milage goes up with roundabouts. In Europe, particularly here in Spain, if you can't navigate a roundabout you can't really drive anywhere. There are really easy rules to follow to make it work: 1) the traffic in the roundabout has right of way over the traffic entering, 2) the outside lane in the roundabout has right of way over the inside lanes, 3) use turn signals to tell others what you're doing, 4) if you miss your turn off for some reason, just go around again, and 5) be disciplined in following the rules. The last one is the place where most Americans have issues. Roundabouts don't work in the US for the same reason the US doesn't have any autobahn-type roads, i.e., lack of driving discipline and driver attitudes. On an autobahn, you have to be willing to yield to faster traffic by moving over to the right when someone is coming up on you, and you have to look before you move into the fast lane. For Americans, particulary on interstates, it becomes a dick-measuring contest for the slower driver who is camped out int he fast lane and considers someone wanting pass a personal affront.

EDH said...

The problem with roundabouts/rotaries... you have to be careful coming around those 'sharp corners' with those YIELD signs.

Mark said...

"Than if they simply put in stop lights?"

Yes, roundabouts might increase the amount of fender bender accidents, but no one dies after getting t-boned.

Wisconsin has a serious DUI issue, and those drivers often miss stop signs and traffic lights, often fatally for the car with right of way. Roundabouts eliminate those completely.

John said...

The the intersection in question a traffic circle or a roundabout?

71 notes so far and pretty much everyone has been talking as if "roundabouts" and "traffic circles" (Rotaries in New England) are the same thing. They are as much the same as baseball and basketball.

A traffic circle is a type of intersection that directs both turning and through traffic onto a one-way circular roadway, usually built for the purposes of traffic calming or aesthetics.[1] Contrary to a roundabout, where entering traffic always yields to traffic already in the circle and merges in directly, the entrances to traffic circles are three-way intersections either controlled by stop signs, traffic signals, or not formally controlled.[2] Colloquially, however, roundabouts are sometimes referred to as circles.[3]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traffic_circle

When queried via Duck Duck Go, I find this PDF from the Virginia DOT "taken from the "the Wisconsin DOT Roundabout web site". It is a table of the 8 major differences between the two.

http://www.virginiadot.org/info/resources/round/Differences_between_Modern_Roundabouts_and_Old_Traffic_Circles.pdf


We had no circles or roundabouts in Puerto Rico until 5-7 years ago. Since then a lot of intersections have been converted to roundabouts. Not Traffic circles.

I probably drive through them in various locations a couple times a week. I have no problem, never seen anyone else have a noticeable problem. I do like them better than intersections with lights.

Maybe, like elections, proper design, construction and use of roundabouts is something Puerto Ricans can figure out that northerners can't.

How does it feel to be dumber than a Puerto Rican? (Just kidding)

John Henry

HoodlumDoodlum said...

They turned a lightly-used 4 way stop in the town I grew up in into a roundabout a few years ago. It apparently cost more than $1M! As far as I can tell the main impetus for the change was that the much larger town up the road got a few. It's only taxpayer money after all, and I think they got a fee hundred thousand d as a grant from the state.

The newest thing here ate Diverging Diamond Interchanges. Those look funny but when the lights are timed correctly they seem to work well.

Freeman Hunt said...

They're everywhere where I live now. One police department posted an instructional video on social media to let people know how to use them.

While out of town I encountered a street with a series of tight ones at each block. Very annoying after the first two.

Hey Skipper said...

Mark was the first one to mention the most valuable aspect of roundabouts: they eliminate T-bone collisions, the most dangerous kind.

I lived for 7 years in England, and now two and a half years in Germany.

In comparison, US drivers are sucktastic, because our driver training is abysmal.

Gospace said...

I find one lane roundabouts just fine as an alternative to 4-way stop signs. They're faster, especially with no traffic like at midnight when I commute. Only time they're not faster is when the person in front of you treats yield signs as stop signs. Two lane and up roundabouts slow things down, don't speed them up, waste time, and are dangerous, IMHO. Had to go through one yesterday. In a tourist area, so there are lots of out of towners. My blood pressure and heart rate shot up trying to navigate it.

I suspect the small ones are not really popular with snow plow drivers, but I haven't had a chance to talk to any of them about it... In the last two years at least a dozen have been built in my area.

John said...


Blogger Freeman Hunt said...

While out of town I encountered a street with a series of tight ones at each block. Very annoying after the first two.

Those might be "traffic calming" circles. They are designed to slow traffic, for example in neighborhoods.

They serve a similar purpose to speed bumps but are less annoying.

John Henry

Mark said...

They're faster, especially with no traffic like at midnight when I commute

And at rush hour -- when most people use them -- they can turn a two mile trip into a 20 minute ordeal.

Mark said...

Hey Skipper, when they started putting them in around the Madison area there was an article that laid out the data about how they massively decrease the number of fatal accidents.

Apparently i was the only one to read that article. So much easier to skip that part and just bitch about your feelings of them.

Grandma Bee said...

I missed getting killed in a T bone collision by 18 inches. That was 7 years ago, and I have had back, leg, and neck problems ever since. Dame was yapping on her cell phone and blew through a stop sign. She hit the front of my car instead of the passenger cabin only because she came out of the blind spot caused by the post of my roof in time for me to hit the brakes. That intersection has 2 stop signs facing west and east, because north - south has no stop, and speed limits on both semi-rural roads is 45. And she still blew the double stop sign. I'll take the risk of fender bender on roundabout any day

320Busdriver said...

We're getting and have quite a few in Waukesha county. They work well and I see that as people get more used to them the speeds through the circle have increased. I am thankful for the reduced waits at the old stop sign int's and for the lives and reduced injuries at same.

SukieTawdry said...

Roundabouts are great in light traffic areas (they're all over Ireland--the first time I drove in Ireland, I went the wrong way on a roundabout--fortunately there wasn't enough traffic for it to be a problem). But in heavy traffic areas? Fuhgeddaboudit. You don't ever want to get caught on DuPont Circle on a dark and stormy weeknight.

Shawn Levasseur said...

Some years ago, I contributed to the Urban Dictionary the following definition:

(http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Bostonian%20Roulette)

Bostonian Roulette:

The act of entering a rotary intersection, gambling that you will...

A. get out at the correct exit
B. get out within the first revolution.
C. be able to get out at all
D. get out alive

Variation on 'Russian Roulette', only losing usually doesn't kill you, but often makes you wish you were dead.

So named for the preponderance of such traffic circles in Eastern Mass. and the notorious driving habits of Bostonians

Caligula said...

"It works okay here. The gain is faster traffic."

The problem remains that roundabouts are good for some locations but not for all locations, yet WISDOT seems to have that "man-with-a-hammer" view, that they are always the best solution.

In any case, WISDOT keeps crying poverty, yet continues spending $zillions on roundabout, roundabouts, roundabouts. Which, even where they are a good idea, remain a costly solution.

How about putting WISDOT on a severe diet, and (since they don't seem able to distinguish between locations where they will work well and ones where they won't) cutting back the construction of new ones to perhaps 10% of those now being built. With at least a request to determine where that 10% would do the most good.