My thoughts on Roundabouts

First, let me say that my degree from Georgia Tech is in Civil Engineering, which included both Jr. and Sr. level environmental and transportation classes.  So, I’ve got a little experience in this area.  I’d like to point out the pros and cons of roundabouts.  Your first question may be, “What’s a roundabout?”.  Good question.

A roundabout is a circular intersection that has been popular in Europe for many years.  If you remember watching the movie “European Vacation”, you may remember Clark Griswold spending a lot of time in one.

Your second question may be, “Why are you talking about roundabouts?”.  Good question again.  The first one in Cumming, Forsyth County, Georgia has opened up at the intersection of Jot-em-Down and Hopewell Roads.  If you’ve been to the outlet mall in Dawsonville, there’s also one at Dawson Forest Road.

So, back to my promise of Pros and Cons:


1) they are good for the environment, because cars spend less time at them idling

2) they are good for traffic because they promote smoother traffic flow through them

3) they are cheaper to build and maintain, especially when it comes to red-light intersections

4) they are easier to design than four-way intersections (since you have a circle, the entering roads can come in pretty much anywhere on the circle and it’s still an efficient intersection)


1) they use up a little more land than a traditional four-way or red light stop

2) they can take a little getting used to by drivers

3) commercial access to businesses can be a little trickier

As you can see, the Pros outweigh the Cons, which is why you will start seeing them a lot more around the United States.


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