They’ve been the subject of debate. The object of scorn. The butt of jokes. They are Carmel, Indiana’s series of roundabouts — traffic circles designed to more efficiently move traffic. And I love them.
Google “Carmel, Indiana” and “roundabouts” and you’ll learn that the city has more roundabouts than any city in the United States. The northern suburb of Indianapolis began replacing traffic signal intersections and 4-way stops with roundabouts in the 1990s.
As a driver, I like roundabouts because they eliminate long back-ups of traffic. Roundabouts now exist where several 4-way stops used to be on routes I frequently travel. Many of them are also nicely landscaped, so they are aesthetically pleasing. As the mother of a new driver, I know they can be intimidating.
The City of Carmel offers these tips for navigating roundabouts:
- Look to your left. Vehicles already in the roundabout have the right-of-way. If there is no traffic in the roundabout do not stop. If there is traffic present, wait until it clears, then enter the roundabout.
- Slow down. 15-20 mph is a safe speed.
- Keep your car in the same lane as you enter and exit the roundabout.
- Buses, trucks, and vehicles with trailers may need more than one lane on the roundabout. Use caution when next to or near a larger vehicle when entering roundabout.
In addition to keeping traffic moving, roundabouts save money — about $125,000 less than a traffic signal. By reducing the amount of idling time of cars sitting in traffic waiting for the light to turn or taking turns at a 4-way stop, roundabouts also are better for the environment.