Roundabouts are passé

If you were listening on Thursday you’ll have heard Billy in Nairobi snigger at the city authorities for still building roundabouts. Now we have no shortage of new roundabouts in the UK, so I picked him up… ‘are you saying roundabouts are passé Billy?’ ‘You bet they are,’ came the response. I’d never really thought about them before, but clearly some of you had.
 This arrives from Kelly: ‘Ros, I was listening to the podcast of WHYS and you voiced inquiry to round-abouts. I’m a civil engineer working in Irvine, California. Though not common, we still design and construct round-about intersections. In Southern California, we generally utilize that design type at low traffic areas and areas with ornate landscaping like fountains in the center. Love listening to the programme. Kelly’And this wasn’t the only email on the subject. A whole show on roundabouts could be next.

12 Responses to “Roundabouts are passé”

  1. 1 Janai Calluy
    January 15, 2008 at 14:01

    To my oppinion roundabouts are not safe. They do make car-traffic safer. This is proven by the statistics that compare deadly accidents on certain points before and after there is a roundabout. At the same time the percentage of accidents with cars and bikers increase. So watch out if you’re a biker!

  2. 2 Brett
    January 15, 2008 at 15:02

    In an urban atmosphere, roundabouts are a unique and aesthetically pleasing way of expediting light traffic. This is provided that people stay off their cell phones long enough to recognize traffic patterns and yield signs. I lived in a house on the corner of a roundabout for a year and would sit on my porch at the begining of rainstorms to watch idiots in SUV’s haul into roundabouts at too high of a speed, only to lose control and smash the cars parked on the outsides of the roundabout.

    I personally think they are neat things and we have plenty of them in Richmond. But the general population does not seem intelligent enough to drive through them.

    They sure beat waiting for stoplights for minutes at a time when no other cars are present though!

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  3. 3 Andrew
    January 15, 2008 at 18:15

    Don’t knock roundabouts.

    If designed correctly to cater for turning movements and used correctly by motorists (now there is a big assumption and hope) then they reduce the level of conflict between vehicles and are safer in the long run.

    The problem is you have mental midgets with serious issues who work in traffic engineering and like to get their own back on motorists or are simply inept and create inferior designs and of course those drivers who simply do not care about themselves, others and the law and create problems for the rest of us and give traffic management devices a bad name. It is surprising how people will refer to traffic problems as if some unknown or alien force creates them – sorry people, but it’s you, you are the problem you create it and only you can solve it!


  4. 4 Janai Calluy
    January 15, 2008 at 18:41

    I want to stress I personally never had an accident on or around a roundabout. And offcourse, when people drive responsable which they don’t, it would be a great solution. But as someone has mentioned, SUV and BMW’s, among others, intend to be a hazard on the roads.

  5. 5 Brett
    January 15, 2008 at 18:50

    Its funny you mention BMW’s. The last accident on that roundabout in question where I used to live that I witnessed was a brand new BMW 330 which entered the roundabout and tried to accelerate through the circle and spun around then bounced off 3 cars, finally comming to rest in the middle of the road.

    The RWD vehicles tend to be less capable of manuevering through roundabouts, especially in inclimate weather.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  6. 6 steve
    January 15, 2008 at 21:26

    I’ve lived in the DC area forever, and DC has lots of traffic circles, and I’ve never witnessed any kind of accident in any of them, and it’s not like there are good drivers in this area. This area has some of the worst drivers ever. The actual worst traffic circles are the ones they’ve been putting in the suburbs. If anyone here lives in suburban Maryland, there are some traffic circles by “The Rio” in Gaithersburg and also in the Kentlands area, and the typical suburban minivan drivers apparently have no idea how they operate, and it can be really dangerous when they don’t yield to traffic already in the circle.

  7. 7 Will Rhodes
    January 16, 2008 at 02:19

    Canadians cannot drive around a roundabout (traffic circle) – believe me, they scare me!

    You also have to understand that each province has its own traffic laws. I still find it odd that you can turn right on a red!

  8. 8 Stephen
    January 16, 2008 at 05:10

    The nearest roundabout is 2km from my home. At first I was opposed to it, but that was mostly based on what I crafted in my head when a newspaper reporter asked me what I thought about the plan to build one there. I am not going to pay three dollars to access the article, but I recall predicting chaos and confusion. The only problem I have witnessed is that buses have to drive on the sidewalks to go straight.

    Here is an aerial photograph of the roundabout in question:

  9. 9 George
    January 16, 2008 at 06:57

    I like traffic circles in the USA for some reason.

    There is something fun or aesthetically pleasing about them.

    The down side are the traffic circles in Baghdad-

    dangerous points of IED’s and ambush.

    For US troops anyway.

  10. 10 George
    January 16, 2008 at 07:03

    My favorite traffic circle of all time was in Calcutta India.

    It was huge with cars one inch apart, mysteriously changing lanes as if by mental telepathy.

    Drive friendly Calcutta.

  11. 11 rosatkins
    January 17, 2008 at 16:59

    Ros and listerners,

    That round about discussion was spot on, that guy from Africa grabbed my attention too immediately after he made that passe comment.

    I’ve just visted my hometown the other day. I noticed that the daily newspaper hasn’t changed in 25 years, from the layout or the editing. I recall when I was a child that this newspaper actually made the daily effort to dumb down their stories, so that people with no more than an 11th grade education would still be able to understand. Reason being the local readers enjoy reading the comics, advertisements, and horroscopes versus anything else.

    Have you heard of anything like this in your editiorial meetings for WHYS? If anything this show is the opposite! The direction seems to be after the most well educated, passionate, and knowledgable guests, listeners, presenters, etc.

    This WHYS approach with news media helps change things, so that people of all education backgrounds can particiapte. The opportunity is for everyone.
    Colorado, USA

  12. 12 Leonardo Rocha
    January 17, 2008 at 17:23

    Roundabouts are a thing of the 60’s, Ros. And I lived for a few years in roundabout paradise: Brasilia, the futuristic capital of Brasil, from 1960. I just hated everytime I had to go round and round.

    People from Rio, like me, and other “normal” cities used to say: the main problem in Brasilia is it has no corners, a natural meeting place.

    In sum: thumbs down for roundabouts, or “baloes” as we call them (balloons).

    Leonardo Rocha

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