Why Traffic Roundabouts Aren’t Popular in the US

Fintan McDonnell of Context spoke with Kevin Beresford of the Roundabouts Appreciation Society, whose official title is “Lord of the Rings”. Beresford started the group as a joke, but the idea grew as he and his mates discussed roundabouts in a pub.

So yeah, it’s a bunch of guys who meet in a pub once every two months to talk about roundabouts. But they are on a mission to save the world. This is where it all started. This wonderful piece of round architecture that makes the traffic filter safely with less emissions. And that can play its part, if you like, on saving the planet.

Beresford, who began documenting roundabouts worldwide was concerned about the lack of roundabouts in the United States. Because of this, he awarded the “International Roundabout of the Year” to the city of Carmel, Indiana. The city’s mayor Jim Brainard was honored by the recognition and truly believes in the good they do for traffic, safety, and emissions.

We found out that roundabouts move 50% more traffic per hour than a traffic light, resulting in tremendous amounts of fuel savings. The city’s engineers estimated that each roundabout saved about 20,000 gallons of fuel a year, which they calculate to be 25 and a half thousand metric tons of CO2, which would have otherwise gone up into the atmosphere.

It’s unclear why more US cities aren’t adopting roundabouts into their traffic patterns but it the number is increasing, slowly.

There are now more than 10,000 roundabouts across the country with states like Wisconsin, Florida and Maryland embracing them more than others. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has more roundabouts on their system than any other state. Public perception has definitely gotten better over time, but change is hard.

Roundabouts in US
Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.