Here in Hawke’s Bay, population around 166,000, we take the humble roundabout for granted.

But check out this recent homage to roundabouts in the NY Times.

It’s a feature on Carmel, a small city in Indiana of population 102,000, which has the most roundabouts of any city in the US … at 140, with a dozen more on the drawing boards. At that point, they’ll have one for every 671 residents.

The Carmel roundabout pictured above was named “International Roundabout of the Year” in 2016 by no less than the U.K. Roundabout Appreciation Society, which, as the NYT reports, “according to the Carmel mayor, Jim Brainard, is largely made up of ‘three guys in a pub’. And indeed the road to roundabouts was inspired by Brainard’s student days at Oxford. Small world.

In addition to the safety benefits, the NYT cites the climate benefits …

“Because modern roundabouts don’t have red lights where cars sit and idle, they don’t burn as much gasoline. While there are few studies, the former city engineer for Carmel, Mike McBride, estimates that each roundabout saves about 20,000 gallons of fuel annually, which means the cars of Carmel emit many fewer tons of planet-heating carbon emissions each year. And U.S. highway officials broadly agree that roundabouts reduce tailpipe emissions.

“They also don’t need electricity, and, unlike stoplights, keep functioning after bad storms — a bonus in these meteorologically turbulent times.”

To keep pace with Carmel on a per capita basis, Hawke’s Bay would need about 247 roundabouts. Does anyone have a guesstimate on how many roundabouts we actually have? We’re guessing maybe 50?

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  1. There are so many places around HB that could use a roundabout – as an example the intersection next to the Havelock North swimming pool – it’s a messy intersection and a properly designed roundabout could improve traffic flow I would think. There’s many other cases as well – Norton Road/Heretaunga Street is just a terrible intersection – especially if you want to turn right from Norton – and at peak times it’s almost impossible. More roundabouts please!

  2. Roundabouts are great for a while. However if the traffic density increases, they tend to be problematic and can cause gridlock. When I was growing up in west London, all the local roundabouts were gradually replaced by traffic lights. Roundabouts are common in the suburbs there, but not in high traffic density areas.

  3. I wish the hideous excuse for roundabouts in Jervoistown would disappear. They big concrete water troughs painted to not look like water troughs, but still do! Trucks are constantly knocking them off the centre of the road, they’re a safety risk. NCC promised they’d be a 3 month trial. Three years later they’re still there.

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