Does America Need More Roundabouts? Does America Need More Roundabouts?
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Does America Need More Roundabouts?

by Andrew Price

July 23, 2009
In a recent Slate piece Tom Vanderbilt argues that America should embrace the roundabout-specifically the so-called "modern roundabout," which gives drivers already circling the right of way.The big benefit of roundabouts is safety. Wilkinson cites evidence that roundabouts are safer than four-way intersections because they reduce the number of potential collision points and force drivers to slow down. But he also argues they save time and energy by reducing the amount of starting and stopping people have to do. And, he says, they're nicer looking, too. It's a convincing case.At this point, there are an estimated 2,000 roundabouts in the United States. There's an incomplete database of U.S. roundabouts here that has about half of them (click the plus sign to see the list).So why has the roundabout failed to take hold in America? Wilkinson thinks people may be suspicious of the roundabout because they've been scarred by bad experiences with them in Europe.And an aversion to the unfamiliar remains an issue. The Washington State Department of Transportation made a five-part YouTube series on roundabouts to help people get comfortable. While these public outreach efforts can feel pretty remedial, if they're helpful in paving the way, so to speak, for more roundabouts, I'm all for it.
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Does America Need More Roundabouts?