Roundabout Debate Lovefest


AN EXCERPT from Street Design, called “The Problems With Modern Roundabouts” by Better! Cities & Towns, caused comment around the web in places like a private roundabout listserv. Traffic engineer Peter Swift and urban designer Geoff Dyer challenged us to a debate, which turned into more of a loveliest. You can hear it at


.‘s favorite street in the US is Main Street in Nantucket.

A car going 25 is 10x more likely to kill someone as a car going 15. Here’s why. ~

Only 2 ways to move to 0 traffic deaths: 1. Separate people from cars, 2. Slow the cars way down. ~

The life of the city takes place between the intersections, not at the intersections. ~

Here’s what it looks like when public realm separatism is reunited in NYC. ~

Going from walkable to drivable in NAmer cities chopped sidewalks, removed stoops and trim. ~

Before organized motordom, public space was the space between the buildings. ~

Placemaking is subtle. You must walk or ride it at 10 mph or less to see how much it alters the pedestrian experience. ~

Street striping has been growing to make them easier to see. Auto-centric space. ~

“State-of-the-art” roundabouts often diminish experience of walking on streets with boring plantings & reflector signs.

The Three Ricks: superhero sorts of transportation planners: Rick Chellman, Rick Hall and Peter Swift.

High speed traffic design elements don’t belong in a roundabout: paint, yellow & black signage signal it’s auto space. ~

When you start with the goal of making a place where people want to be, all your design decisions must flow from that. ~

Seven Dials in London is a shared space that happens at the pedestrian’s pace, watching the parade of life~

When I’m finished with a street redesign, if I haven’t made it simpler and less confusing, then I haven’t succeeded. ~

#1 job of urban designers today is to rekindle people’s confidence. Way we’ve been using roundabouts isn’t doing it. ~

Most roundabouts on North America have the same sort of auto-centric placelessness that plagues rest of the landscape. ~

Place Victor Hugo in Paris serves as an urban conduit to sort out cars and pedestrians, but it’s also a beloved place. ~

The modern roundabout is significantly unlike the historic roundabout, traffic circle, rotary, and circus. ~Peter Swift

While the roundabout is most hotly debated, other circular intersections: traffic circle, rotary, circus. ~Peter Swift