Roundabouts – Everything there is to know
In many parts of the world traditional intersections are being replaced with traffic circles, the trend for developing traffic circles or roundabouts is up in Europe, Latin America and parts of the US.
Why are roundabouts safer than traditional intersections?
Most studies show that roundabouts reduce common fatal crashes like T-bones and rear-end collisions. This is because traffic flows much smoother and drivers have to slow down before entering the roundabout. Even if an accident would happen, it would be minimal due to the low speeds. Statistics from the US Federal Highway Administration show that roundabouts reduce overall collisions with 37 percent, and there is a 90% reduction in fatal collisions.
Pedestrian safety is also increased since drivers are forced to slow down before entering the roundabout, thus it’s easier to spot pedestrians and make eye-contact.
Since there are no traffic lights in roundabouts forcing vehicles to stop, the traffic flow is continuously smoother, studies show an increase in traffic flow of about 20%.
Roundabouts reduce emissions
Since vehicles don’t have to stop and idle, and since the speed is reduced the emissions compared to an intersection is also reduced.
Another important reason for building roundabouts is that they are less expensive than intersections since they need no traffic lights or other signals.
Quick roundabout insights
The first roundabout for traffic is the Etoile in Paris, it was built about 100 years ago and surrounds the Arc de triomphe.
Half of the world’s roundabouts are in France (in 2010 they had more than 30 000).
The world’s longest roundabout is disputed, if you are looking for a perfect round traffic circle it is the Putrajaya in Malaysia, it’s approximately 3.4 km. A longer one is the Queen’s Park Savannah roundabout in Trinidad, however it has more of an L-shape (so some people are disputing if it really is a roundabout at all).
In Sweden there is a phenomena called roundabout dogs, where people simply put a small miniature dog sculpture in the roundabout.
The magic roundabout in Swindon UK makes you dizzy by just looking at it from above, it has five smaller circles centered around a larger one. In 2005 it was voted the worst roundabout in the UK by an insurance company. See this poor guy making his way through it: