Roundabouts, most of us have all experienced them at one time or another and some hate them, while some love them. Some people call them "Whirlymajigs", "The crazy car circle" and the more common name, "Pain in the ass". I drive through one almost everyday and I started to wonder about the history of them and I figured other people might have wondered about them as well. So, step into the Wayback Machine while we learn about the history of the roundabout.


The first Roundabout was built in Letchworth Garden City in Great Britian in 1907 and it was originally intended as a traffic islands for pedestrians. Roundabouts made their way state side in the early 20th century and they were widespread through out Europe in the early 21st century. As of 2010, France had more than 30,000 roundabouts, while the City of Fort Collins has two major ones and many in residential areas.


Here are a great list of facts taken from our very own City of Fort Collins Website.

Roundabouts save lives with:
Up to a 90% reduction in fatalities,
- a 76% reduction in injury crashes,
- a 30-40% reduction in pedestrian crashes, and
- a 75% fewer conflict points than a 4-way intersection.

Slower vehicle speeds means:
drivers have more time to judge and react to other cars or pedestrians,
- an advantageous situation for older and novice drivers,
- a reduction in the severity of crashes, and
- a safer situation for pedestrians.

Efficient traffic flow means:
- 30-50% increase in traffic capacity.

Reduction in pollution and fuel use means:
improved traffic flow for intersections that handle a high number of left turns, and
- reduced need for storage lanes.

Money saved means:
no signal equipment to install and repair,
- savings estimated at an average of $5,000 per year in electricity & maintenance costs, and
- service life of a roundabout is 25 years, compared to 10 years for a traditional traffic signal.

If you ask me roundabouts seem to make perfect sense. I could go into way more detail, but I fear that I may have already bored you with the basic facts. The next time you find yourself in a roundabout, you can now smile because you now know why they are here.

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