When you’re commuting in Georgia, it’s generally because (with apologies to Flo Rida) you’ve got people to see, and your time is precious. Daily commutes are getting longer, so perhaps communities should defer to traffic engineers – and the Mythbusters – and embrace the roundabout.
As reported in the AJC, roundabouts are on the increase in Georgia. Since 2005, 145 have been built in Georgia, and another 130 are either under construction or in the design process, so if there’s not one in your community yet, chances are, you’ll see one soon. In Smyrna, we currently have three roundabouts, and one is in the works for the 2016 SPLOST. Smyrna’s nascent roundabout will replace a traffic light that controls a six-point intersection. Traffic there is light, but the time drivers spend waiting for the lights to cycle through each street is frustratingly long; that’s the kind of interchange that was made for a roundabout.
The AJC notes that feelings on roundabouts range from love to loathe:
Surveys have shown that before roundabouts are installed, a lot of people don’t want them, said Mike Hunter, director of the National Center for Transportation Systems Productivity and Management at Georgia Tech. But afterward, they tend to be well-received.
“I think there has definitely been a tipping point in Georgia, where you are now starting to see more and more people request them,” Hunter said. “It’s not the transportation agencies going in and saying, ‘We think this is a good location for one.’”
It’s also clear that driver education is key – although, arguably, if you have the wherewithal to operate several thousand pounds of steel, you should be able to figure out how to circumnavigate a circle. The Georgia Driver’s Manual currently gives roundabouts only a passing glance, but they will be covered in greater depth for next year’s edition. (Admittedly, if there’s a stop sign at the roundabout, the situation is sometimes fraught.)
Alternatively, some believe that roundabouts are kin to ten-foot sidewalks as a tenet of Agenda 21. Benignly innovative traffic calming tactic, or part of the UN’s onward march towards global domination? Discuss in the comments.