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Roundabouts: Are they Better?

Filed under: Transportation
Tags: , ,

Have you driven through this, the intersection of Harlem Road at Wehrle and Kensington Ave? It’s a glorious set of two roundabouts, which allow traffic to negotiate what had previously been a set of intersections with lights. I think it works phenomenally well, and I think it’s great that we’re seeing more and more intersections in the area switching to roundabouts – Hamburg especially.

So, the big question – are roundabouts better for traffic? They calm traffic by requiring a yield/slow-down, but are they more or less efficient in terms of getting traffic through an intersection, as compared with a four-way stop? 


  • I love roundabouts and wish we’d see even more of them. I’m glad the experiment confirms that a roundabout moves more cars through the intersection, but to me, an even bigger advantage is that accident rates tend to be much lower at roundabouts as well.

  • Ian Kelly

    I did notice that their 4-way stop experiment allowed multiple cars in the intersection at one time…which skewed the numbers to make 4-way stops seem even more efficient…plus they didn’t show the Buffalo Wave where everyone encourages everyone else to go first 🙂

  • townline

    It depends on the condition of the intersection. Roundabouts are often much more efficient and much safer. They pretty much completely eliminate head-ons and its rare to get close to a t-bone. Usually the worst kind of accident is a simple side swipe – where no one gets hurt. I also think they’re safer for bicyclists – there is a much better order for someone like a bike in entering the roundabout. They can be a little tricky for pedestrians however, as the roundabout is designed to allow traffic to flow without stopping. Some have been implemented with pedestrian crossing buttons, which I think works well. There is a also the myth that they’re considerably more expensive. Typically they’re 10-20% more in construction, but long term maintenance, they’re cheaper without the big signal equipment to maintain.

  • danielrsack

    Who cares about efficiency for traffic? What about safety for the pedestrian? All of the new roundabouts we have are too large; I guess they have to accommodate 70 foot trucks. But the largeness is bad for pedestrians who have a larger street to cross or further to walk to get to the narrowest part of the intersection. Then stop signs are installed because drivers don’t know pedestrians have the right of way. Might as well have kept the standard intersection with stop signs and saved the space and money.

    • Most roundabouts also include zebra crosswalks and signage to yield to pedestrians. Just because some roundabouts are poorly designed for pedestrians doesn’t mean they’re unsafe for pedestrians. It means they just need to be designed with pedestrians in mind. Considering Europe is sort of big on the whole “pedestrian” craze, and considering Europe is also big on roundabouts, it seems to me to be a problem that’s wholly solvable.

  • Sean Danvers

    Roundabouts would work much better if people actually knew how to drive through them. The triangle that says “Yield” does not mean the same thing as the octagon that says STOP people!

  • Darrell

    We really need one at the intersection of Elmwood/Hertel. Worst traffic stop in the city.

  • hwhamlin

    If you’ve never wasted a tiny part of your life watching four drivers arrive at once at a four-way stop, then sit there and wait 30 seconds for someone to go, you’re a very recent arrival to WNY.
    Roundabouts are taking hold.