Why Can't Americans Get Their Heads Around Roundabouts?

They're safer, faster, require less fuel use and enhance public space. So why do Americans tend to reject proposals for roundabouts?
July 21, 2009, 10am PDT | Michael Dudley
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Americans tend to reject roundabouts for a number of reasons, including being unaccustomed to predicting other drivers' behaviors and a preference for traffic signals.

But Tom Vanderbilt argues that Americans need to get over their bias for roundabouts, and lays out out several reasons why they're far superior to regular binary intersections.

"There are few silver bullets when it comes to traffic, and roundabouts will not work everywhere. (Some intersections are already too busy to consider switching to the roundabout model.) Like anything, they can be poorly designed: You don't want them to look as if someone simply traced 'a circle around a coffee can' on a piece of paper, as one engineer has put it. Yes, there will perhaps have to be some minor educational outreach-one Indiana town is weighing spending $24,000 to do just that-but a larger question here is whether people who cannot manage to merge at low speed into a counter-clockwise circle and, yes, perhaps even change lanes in that circle, before finding the correct exit should actually be holding licenses that enable them to operate heavy machinery in the first place."

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Published on Monday, July 20, 2009 in Slate.com
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