The US Must Stop Sleeping On Transportation


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aerial view of a busy city roundabout intersection at sunrise rush hour

As of 2021, it was approximated that less than 9,000 roundabouts existed in the United States. France, a country 15.3 times smaller than the U.S., has well over 30,000 roundabouts. With a significant size difference, it is surprising that the United States does not have a larger number of these “circular solutions” to traditional intersections. So why do we not have a lot of roundabouts? One reason is that the United States population is used to traditional intersections, so many do not know how to use roundabouts properly. Another reason is that they take up a significant amount of space, and are costly to build. However, these should not be sound arguments for the U.S. to not use roundabouts. Traditional intersections are significantly more dangerous than roundabouts. According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, roundabouts provide a “90% reduction in fatal crashes” compared to intersections. Crash rates are also lessened by roundabouts because they not only force cars to drive slower, they also take away the chance of people running red lights. Lastly, roundabouts provide up to 30% better fuel efficiency. 

The United States over the past decade has begun to increase roundabout production. One instance where I have seen the success of roundabouts is at Ohio State Route 83, and Mills Road at the border of Avon and North Ridgeville, Ohio. Prior to the roundabout the intersection had traffic lights, and traffic was often significantly backed up during rush hour. Ever since the installation of the roundabout in 2017, traffic has flowed smoothly, and I can not recall a time I have seen more than five cars backed up at once.

Roundabouts are not the only place where the United States lacks in transportation. Public transit is used significantly more in Europe than the U.S. Transit also is a safer way to travel, is better for the environment and reduces traffic on the roads. So why is Europe a step ahead when it comes to transportation? It all comes down to public opinion on the matter, and the costs of changing our methods of transportation in America. But no matter the cost, the United States has to continue to follow the footsteps of Europeans by installing roundabouts, and other transportation methods in order to make travel safer for all.