Roundabout Saves the Day in Wanker's Corner

A roundabout replaced a flashing red light that was causing traffic jams at an intersection in Wanker's Corner, Oregon. Locals are calling it a miracle.

From the Oregonian: "Last October, the county removed all the signals. In their place, workers built a $4 million two-lane roundabout where uncertainty now breeds caution and mostly free-flowing traffic.

Suddenly, unsafe is safe.

Thank God. Or thank Dutch traffic engineer Hans Monderman, who has long argued that ripping out traditional traffic controls is the way to deal with gridlock."

Full Story: Chaos: A roundabout way to defeat traffic



Roundabouts are better...

Not only are roundabouts safer and more efficient as traffic distributors, but landscaped roundabouts look a whole lot better. Sadly, on the advice of American traffic engineers, many roundabouts in Arabian Gulf cities (especially in Doha-Qatar), originally designed by British engineers, have been replaced with massive asphalted, signalised American-style multi-lane road intersections. Not only do these cause huge traffic back-ups, but they are plain ugly. Moreover, in what is already one of the hottest regions of the world, acres of hot asphalt at every urban intersection (replacing what formerly was grass, shrubbery, trees… maybe even a fountain) just adds to the heat. In fact, I can’t think of a more efficient way to exacerbate global warming, on a per square foot basis, than to pave over greenery with asphalt. It’s gratifying, though, to see that roundabouts are making a comeback in America. (BTW… is that place in Oregon really called Wanker’s Corner…?).




We see them a lot in Oz. They do allow good flow of traffic, but they have to be large, and allow a speed of 40kph (25mph) so that traffic maintains some inertia. First car in has priority, clear and simple. If a car is on the roundabout before you, he has right of way. It is quicker for everyone if you continue past a waiting vehicle, and safer to follow the rules of the intersection.

Roundabouts seem to have their followers and detractors, and they seem to be in and out of fashion. But they are cheap - although it beats me that one at Wankers corner could cost US$2 million! At a realistic price, they are way cheaper than signals.

They can also add to the quality of the street-scape and be planted as a garden. So much better than lights or signals, lower maintenance costs, lower capital costs, better traffic flow... I have not seen any crash (wreck) data one over the other, that would be interesting.

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