The BBC has a profile of Carmel, Indiana, which has become the “roundabout capital” of America. In the piece, the mayor proudly boasts that he removed 78 sets of traffic lights and replaced them with roundabouts “because of the expense saved and more importantly the safety.” It’s suggested that America has “started to embrace the free-flowing British circular.” Have we? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard quotes a study “which suggests there is on average a 40% decrease in all accidents and a 90% drop in fatal ones when a traffic intersection is replaced by a roundabout.”
CON: Roundabouts? C’mon.
How the hell are we supposed to drag race if we can’t grip it and rip it off the line when the lights turn green? When some dillweed in a Trans Am starts acting like he’s better than you, you can’t show him who’s boss in a roundabout. Yes, you can flip him the bird, but that’s only half the battle
Carmel’s roundabouts are beautifully landscaped and feature sculptures and fountains. Intersections are unappealing grids of asphalt.
CON: Roundabouts? Please.
Aren’t roundabouts the traffic equivalent of the metric system? If we didn’t take the time to learn what a centimeter is, we aren’t going to practice twirling in circles in our cars.
PRO: Reduces travel time.
By smoothly transitioning through a roundabout, commuters avoid waiting at stop lights. The rotaries encourage a free flow of traffic with minimal stopping.
CON: Roundabouts? You gotta be kidding me.
“Where’s the nearest liquor store?” some hot babe asks you in the line at Checkers. What sounds cooler: “Well sweet lady, it’s on the corner of Bad and Ass,” or; “It’s just off the third curl of the Periwinkle Roundabout?” Yeah, we thought so.
PRO: Saves money.
Mayor Brainard tells the BBC that reduced maintenance and fuel costs lead to long-term savings.
CON: Roundabouts? Yeah right, buddy.
If you have a cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other, how are you supposed to safely drive around a roundabout with your knees? That’s pretty irresponsible of a municipality to force that upon its citizens.
PRO: Once people get accustomed to them, they are a breeze.
Unlike circles in Washington, DC or New Jersey, Carmel uses the British versions that are much simpler and easier to navigate.
CON: Roundabouts? Get out of here.
Seriously, get out of here.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 3, 2011