Much of the rest of the world has come to love roundabouts. Now, councillor Mike O’Brien is proposing that Fredericton have some too.

Roundabouts can be installed at almost any intersection, but they really shine in the following situations:

  • intersections where the roads don’t all line up at 90 degree intersections
  • intersections with 5 or more roads going into it
  • intersections where a lot of the drivers would be making a left turn

Many opponents claim that they are less safe than traditional intersections, but that isn’t actually true.

  • The average speed of a roundabout is typically 25 km/h
  • You won’t get head-on or t-bone accidents
  • Pedestrians are actually safer because they don’t have to worry about turning traffic and they only have to look one way before crossing
  • Cyclists have the option of using the crosswalks or entering the circle as regular traffic (but without a bike lane in the circle)

The two biggest hurdles will be:

  • Proper design: A badly designed roundabout will cause more accidents and drivers will fear them. An example of a badly designed roundabout is the one on Miramichi/Sobeys/Esso in Oromocto.
  • Education.  The CBC interview had the lead traffic engineer stress the importance of driver education. Unfortunately, I don’t see this happening as the “powers that be” don’t seem to have a problem with a large percentage of the local population not knowing how to merge. It will be up to the other drivers to honk at the ones who are doing it wrong. The Government of PEI did quite well on driver education, including a cute little Flash animation:

Hopefully Fredericton City Council won’t resist change and we’ll get to see some roundabouts fairly soon. Hopefully the first one will go at Waterloo/Beaverbrook/Future UNB Entrance/Forest Hill/Lincoln.