Friday, October 10, 2014

Roundabouts a Panacea for Intersections?

On the U.S. roundabout listserv a commenter lamented about the roundabout not being a panacea for intersections, saying “…roundabouts are not the universal panaceas I once imagined - but can be excellent if designed correctly in an appropriate situation.”

My response was as follows:

Yes the roundabout does represent a panacea for intersections--well designed or not in most cases--compared to the alternative.  Note the overall issues here--walk/bike/car occupant injuries and fatalities, use of gasoline, delay for all users, scenic quality, pollution/global warming gas generation, walkable/bikable nodes and corridors, land use density, enabling cycle track, transit oriented development (TOD), livable communities, addressing half of all senior driver fatalities at non-roundabout intersections (compared to less than a quarter for younger drivers), the United States soaring relative highway fatality rates, the U.S. abysmal fatality rates for walk-bike modes, etc.  Pick your subject and show how traffic signals or sign control perform so much better in all these categories.  Blaming all roundabouts for the design flaws of a few is illogical.  Any case studies of signals replacing roundabouts and performing better in all of the above areas of concern?

Unfortunately the dead bodies are on our urban streets in all these categories for all to see each and every day while in a small but agonizingly slow way there are nodes and now over 60 roundabout corridors showing an alternative way to the U.S. mean streets, the kind of urban environment you and I are forced to submit to each day.