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Cities in the U.S. Copy Solution Without Understanding

The city in the U.S. that I live in has started installing more and more roundabouts.  The reasoning is it is “easier” for traffic flow.  I don’t find that to be the case at all.  I find them to be a pain to maneuver around and a hindrance to traffic flow.  Many others that I have discussed this with believe the same thing.

But they are used in Europe to help with traffic flow is the argument I get back from time to time.  “Who cares!” was my reaction.

Now imagine my chagrin when I discovered I was spending 2 weeks in the United Kingdom on business.  My buddy and I spent a lot of time driving around the UK.  To my surprise, the roundabouts were quite helpful and did help traffic flow.

Change in attitude?  No.  Change in reason.  Yes.

In the U.S. for the most part the roads are set up in a grid pattern and most intersections crossed perpendicular to each other causing 4-way stops.  In the UK many roads would come together with anywhere from 3 to 7 options of directions to go.  When there were 4 choices the streets were almost never perpendicular to each.  A stop sign or light would be very difficult so the roundabout was used.  See the pictures below:

Roundabout in the U.S.

Roundabout in the UK

As I drove more and more in the UK, I noticed how the roundabout did help traffic flow when streets weren’t perpendicular.  When streets were perpendicular stop lights were used with turn lanes just like in the U.S.

Cities are copying the roundabout as a solution for all traffic flow issues without understanding what it can be best used for.  This is why it is best to understand why solutions or countermeasures are put into place so you know when and how best to apply that learning.

Don’t copy solutions.  Learn from them.

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