“Mythbusters” Finds Roundabouts More Efficient for Motorists

Everyone has an opinion about roundabouts. Studies show they’re safer and more environmentally friendly. But they tend to inspire a lot of kvetching because a lot of Americans don’t know how they work.

If only there was an impartial source Americans trusted that could help settle this debate once and for all. Well, to the delight of transportation nerds everywhere, the Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters” recently took up this issue — if only from the windshield perspective. Alex Ihnen at NextSTL reports:

Who doesn’t love MythBusters? I mean, I’m still perplexed by the staying drier by walking and not running in the rain thing, but these are generally pretty fun. So Jamie and Adam recently took on the traffic throughput of a four-way stop intersection versus a roundabout. You’ll have to check out the video above to the get the result, but one was 20% more efficient than the other. Of course for anyone interested in the four-way stop versus roundabout and how it actually works in a city, plenty of questions and issues were left undiscussed. This MythBusters was unfortunately only focused on the level of service for drivers.

How do the various intersections work for pedestrians? Bicycles? What about collisions in a roundabout? The traffic throughput may not even be the primary argument for roundabouts. Even if a roundabout handled the same or fewer cars, slowing traffic, and the elimination of dozens of points of conflict and the potential for head-on vehicle collisions would be a strong argument in their favor.

Recently we pulled together a compilation of videos showing how to navigate a roundabout and included images of the roundabout coming to University City: Nine Videos to Help You Navigate a Roundabout.

Now that’s some good watching.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Strong Towns tries to quantify U.S. subsidies to driving and homeownership. Systemic Failure links to a story on the downfall of suburban shopping malls. And Baltimore Spokes shares the trailer for an inspiring new documentary called “Bikes vs. Cars.”