Update: Since we wrote this post in 2011 Avon has even more now as other area communities build them as well. Here is an interesting video from Mythbusters: http://youtu.be/OvoFjirrgYA
We know that local governments have to look for solutions that solve issues and a common way to do this is looking at what other communities have done to address the same issue. The “Let’s see how that’s working for them” mindset. When it comes to traffic control in the Indy metro area, the city of Carmel in the northern metro area jumped in with the trendy solution to busy intersections by installing roundabouts, and are still adding more every year. Saying it’s been used in Europe for a long time and is a proven way to ease busy traffic flow was they typical reason given for the decision. Whatever the reason, they’ve embraced it so other local governments are paying attention.
Avon was in the same predicament and after paying for traffic studies decided to “give it a go” as the British would say. With 5 done and more in the planning stages, they really jumped in with both feet and aim to be the #2 roundabout community in the Indy metro area.
From a personal perspective I was skeptical because of what I saw in the early stages of Carmel’s rollout. Traffic flowing smoothly until granny pulls up and will not enter the roundabout if ANY cars are in the circle resulting in long lines of backed up traffic. The other issue is roundabouts tend to bring out the aggression of those many aggressive drivers in Carmel. The fundamental requirement for smooth flowing traffic at a roundabout is being polite, paying attention (not texting or yaking on the cell phone), and slowing down to safely drive through. None of these are common in Carmel drivers. So when Avon announced their plans I was dreading the fact I would be required to use roundabouts to get anywhere in the area.
Fast forward to today and after a couple of years of use, drivers in this area generally follow the requirements listed above and traffic does generally flow better through our area roundabouts. So now my skepticism has abated as whether this was a good move by the town of Avon. The interesting part will be to see as the town grows and traffic increases, will these current designs be able to handle the traffic as smoothly as it does now.
For those not sure yet, try to follow these instructions from www.RoundaboutUSA.com :
HOW TO DRIVE A ROUNDABOUT
- As you approach a roundabout there will be a YIELD sign and dashed yield limit line. Slow down, watch for pedestrians and bicyclists, and be prepared to stop if necessary.
- When you enter, yield to circulating traffic on the left, but do not stop if the way is clear.
- A conventional roundabout will have ONE-WAY signs mounted in the center island. They help guide traffic and indicate that you must drive to the right of the center island.
- Upon passing the street prior to your exit, turn on your right turn signal and watch for pedestrians and bicyclists as you exit.
- Left turns are completed by traveling around the central island.
A couple of unanticipated bonuses on roundabouts have occurred to me recently. One, you never have to worry about signals being down due to power or technical issues. Second, if you go through a roundabout and realize you meant to turn off at an exit, you just drive around again and exit at the correct one (good for a busy Realtor who forgets where their next stop is).
So love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re here to stay. I do ask that you do everyone a favor, you still need to use you’re turn signal when exiting. That signals waiting drivers that’s it’s OK to proceed.
Let me know what you think about roundabouts. Maybe you found another bonus we all need to hear.
And that about rounds up this post (couldn’t resist).