Are roundabouts better than a standard intersection?

CREATED Jul 26, 2013

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MADISON - Roundabouts are popping up all over Wisconsin.  A state lawmaker is pushing a bill that would make it harder for the state to put them in.  The bill would give local leaders the ability to veto a proposed roundabout in their communities.

So what are the benefits of roundabouts?

Assistant Deputy Transportation Secretary Steve Krieser says a roundabout provides two major benefits.

First, they're safer.  Krieser admits the number of crashes has gone up at some right after they are installed.  But, "roundabouts virtually eliminate head on collisions and t-bone collisions in intersections, which are the two types of collisions that are most likely to injure and kill people," Krieser said.

Second, "they are more tolerant of increases in congestion over time than a signalized intersection is," Krieser said.  That's because you don't typically get the queuing you get at an intersection with stoplights.

In the wake of the proposed legislation, Krieser also points out that roundabouts aren't the state's default position.  "They are one tool in the intersection toolbox."  He points out they always work closely with local leaders and people in a community before deciding how to rebuild roads.