26 December 2007

Ideas for a World-Class City, no.3

In the UK they have roundabouts. In Swindon, they have a MAGIC ROUNDABOUT. As the city's website explains:

All they did was combine two roundabouts in one - the first the conventional, clockwise variety and the second, which revolved inside the first, sending traffic anti-clockwise.

Whaaaa...?

You'll have to peruse the photos for a while to discern how it works. These additional photos will also help. Keep in mind two things: they drive on the left side, and "peruse" means to read or study carefully.

Brilliant, eh? (And yet it wasn't enough to win the 'best roundabout' award from the Roundabout Appreciation Society which is a real thing).

But is there a place for roundabouts in America? Arizona thinks so. Here's what ADOT says:

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety research indicates a Modern Roundabout approach to traffic management can reduce injury accidents by 75 percent and fatal accidents by as much as 90 percent. Intersections with a high volume of left turns are better handled by a Modern Roundabout than a traffic signal because more vehicles can pass safely through the intersection in a shorter time period.

Are roundabouts a sensible option for Cincinnati? For the burbs? For future OKI regional development?

For the city and burbs perhaps a 'smart' traffic light system makes the most sense. It would accomplish almost the same thing as the roundabout and Americans would not have to learn a new skill, which is a big plus. I have no idea why this hasn't been invented yet. Any engineers who want to make a gazillion dollars please contact me.

Perhaps the regional option makes the most sense. Think about it in terms of adding an extra street to a planned 4-way intersection: It would allow 25% more vehicles without congesting the other streets and it would offer 25% more street frontage for development. The increased land value can be offset by tax incentives for businesses and property taxes for residents. Businesses will move in. Residents will move in. Cincinnati, forced to compete with its neighbors, will either start becoming a world-class city or collapse and change its name to East St. Detroit.

And that is how people driving in circles will determine the Queen City's fate.

4 comments:

Wes said...

Bonus points for the Jasper Fforde reference.

Up in New England, we drove on many roundabouts/rotaries. You get used to them surprisingly quickly. The one in Williamstown, MA, however, was not a real rotary - it was more of an oval shape, and not really designed well. Jawa Girl soon labelled it the Ovary, and given the average age (subtracting Williams College) of Williamstown, it soon became known as Williamstown's Last Functional Ovary.

WF

WestEnder said...

LOL... maybe if they redesigned it, it could gain status as a magic ovary.

My main rotary experiences were in Dupont Circle when I lived in D.C. A bit stressful the first time since I was driving along and all of a sudden there it was, a daunting visage of anticlockwise entropy.

Kate The Great said...

I also experienced the East Coast roundabout phenomenon...

We lived in CT while I was in high school. I learned to drive fast, aggressive and in the "circle" about 10 miles north of town on Route 79.

I am a bit sad that we don't have any around here... they're simple to navigate and for some reason I find them quaint.

Mark said...

NKU set up a roundabout for the main road onto campus. For the most part, it works fine.

Anderson Town Center has two for its poorly designed interior traffic flow. They work horribly. The roundabouts have been in use for over three years but even today a surprisingly large number of people turn the wrong way onto them and can't figure out who yields to whom.

Even though the Center looks like it was designed by a gibbon which contributes to the problem, the key issue is age. For the most part young drivers adapt and old don't. Every driver who turned left onto the roundabout and almost hit me head-on looked to be about 100 (most also honked). Most of the drivers who refuse to yield the right of way onto the roundabouts are also very old (with a few notable exceptions).