Roundabouts Pushed in Not-So-Roundabout Way (even though they’re annoying as hell)

The multi-lane Cordata Parkway Roundabout in Bellingham, Washington. Photo courtesy of Reid Middleton, Incorporated.

This country is getting a bit too crazy about roundabouts. Personally, I can’t stand the stupid things. Four-way stop signs aren’t that difficult to figure out, and I’d rather take my chances on hitting a green light and cruising right on through rather than having to slow down to 10 mph to make a tight curve at every single intersection.

Don’t get me wrong, they do have their place. Some intersections would be much better served by a roundabout because the signal sequence is just so stinking long. But when I run across intersections out in the middle of nowhere that barely ever see heavy loads of traffic, I get my feathers ruffled a bit. It’s just so annoying.

However, maybe I’m looking at it from the wrong angle. David Noyce, University of Wisconsin professor of civil and environmental engineering, would certainly think so.

According to recent research, roundabouts are the next big thing in traffic safety. During a recent study, Noyce and his colleagues studied 14 of the 150 multi-lane roundabouts in Wisconsin using video to analyze vehicle type, driving speed, how drivers enter a roundabout, and the time gap needed to enter one. Where I see a pain in the ass of slowing way down, the research team sees a much safer system.

Though it may be hard to enter at times, even if a crash does occur, people are moving really slowly. Plus, because they’re constantly turning, there are never the T-bone collisions that are the most destructive and most dangerous on the road. The team likes them so much, in fact, that the state of Wisconsin is using their recommendations and planning to install another 150 roundabouts by the end of 2015.

So if you’re like me and hate random roundabouts, just remember that they make the roads a bit safer. I will try to do so as well, even though they still annoy the shit out of me.


About bigkingken

A science writer dedicated to proving that the Big Ten - or the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, if you will - is more than athletics.
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2 Responses to Roundabouts Pushed in Not-So-Roundabout Way (even though they’re annoying as hell)

  1. you gotserved says:

    can’t stand them and actively avoid them

  2. Adam says:

    I agree. They just dumped these things on us and a person my age with 40 plus year under the belt of driving is none to happy about it.
    Roundabout= round and round you go, where you stop nobody knows.
    Also, it seems the amber light is now looked at as a red if you go under one. When the hell did that happen?

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