From the first time I drove on English roads in 2007, I’ve been in love with the roundabout.
Roundabouts are seldom used in the United States. There are a few around Portland (and, especially, in Lake Oswego and Bend), but mostly we favor traffic lights. But traffic lights create congestion. From what I’ve seen in the U.K., roundabouts allow for a constant flow of traffic. They may even breed drivers who are more polite!
This morning, Jason Kottke shared this video, which describes how one village in northern England decided to do away with a traffic light and replace it with a double roundabout. In the process, they created a more usable public space, decreased the speed of traffic, and yet maintained good traffic flow.
Traffic circles aren’t always great. The Place de la Concorde in Paris (and the Arc de Triomphe, actually) can have nasty gridlock, for instance. But generally speaking, I’m a fan, and I think we should try them more here in the U.S. (Or maybe other cities and states already use them? I’ve never noticed them elsewhere, but maybe I haven’t been to the right places…)