Last May, Al Williams wrote about roundabouts for Hackaday and why they never really caught on in the US compared to the UK and the rest of Europe.
If you are from the US, you might be surprised at how prevalent roundabouts are in most of the world. Outside of Carmel, Indiana which has 125 roundabouts, these are pretty unusual in the United States though have been gaining in popularity over the past decade. It turns out, that while a modern roundabout is safer and more efficient than other intersection types, roundabouts got a bad rap early on and so the typical US driver still has a lot of anxiety when approaching one.
Prior to 1966, traffic circles were a spotty thing. In some cases, they were just big circular junctions. In others, the right-of-way rules were difficult to figure out or there were traffic lights and stop signs that did not lead to a better or safer driving experience.
Now, you’re probably wondering: roundabouts? That’s not interesting! Well, they’re actually an important part of civil engineering, particularly for traffic flow and the various types of roundabouts around the world demonstrate different ideas. Al gave two examples:
- The Place Charles de Gaulle, which surrounds the Arc de Triomphe and has 12 roads feeding it. If you’ve been to Paris, you’ll know how chaotic the roads are.
- The magic roundabout in Swindon made up of one big roundabout and 6 mini ones
If you want to know more about roundabouts, check out this article on various types including roundabout crossover interchanges.