The City of Lincoln is debating plans to construct what is likely to be the state’s first roundabout-style intersection at 52nd Street & Lincoln Road. [see picture blow]
They’ve been used for decades in the United Kingdom, and have become increasingly popular in larger metropolitan areas of the United States in recent years – including the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro.
A roundabout is a circular intersection that, in theory, is supposed to improve traffic flow and safety without the use of traffic signals.
How do they work?
All traffic in a roundabout travels in one direction, in this case counter-clockwise, around a center median. A car approaching the roundabout makes a complete stop. Once it is safe to do so, the driver makes a RIGHT turn into the intersection and travels around the center until he/she reaches the desired direction, at which time they will make another right turn onto the desired street.
Although I usually support efforts to bring revolutionary techniques and methods to the region, I have concerns about such an intersection being constructed in the Bismarck-Mandan-Lincoln metro. I believe it may cause more problems than it’ll solve. The main reason being that roundabouts can be confusing to those who aren’t accustomed to them.
When used properly, I will admit that roundabouts can have improved traffic flow over a signaled intersection. However, it has been my personal experience using them in Minneapolis that they don’t necessarily work as anticipated, often because of unaccustomed drivers making such mistakes as turning left into the one-way collector, driving head-on with others in the roundabout.
Also consider that Bismarck is notorious for so-called “red light runners”. In an uncontrolled intersection like this, such activities are bound to occur on an even higher frequency.
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