Don’t stop at stoplights. In an environmentally conscious age, stoplights are belligerent and ignorant.
Roundabouts can be a safer, eco-friendly, cheaper, and more effective alternative to the traditional stoplight. A couple of summers ago, I found myself in Finland and, to my fascination, I found that a majority of traffic was controlled by roundabouts in place of traffic signals — a trend I learned to be common in most of Europe such as Switzerland (which has only half the road death rate according to the World Health Organization).
So why haven’t we gotten round to it?
Traditional traffic signals are a costly system of traffic control. Each intersection uses an estimated $700 a year in power alone. Added to maintenance and construction, traffic signals amount to a considerable sum on our infrastructure costs. Even with modern LEDs, each single light consumes approximately 900kwh a year (the amount a computer uses in three months). With the amount of intersections in Kamloops these lights consume very large amounts of energy.
Roundabouts however do not require electricity at all as well as being effective tools to regulate traffic.
According to Transport Canada, roughly 50 per cent of injury related crashes occur at intersections, accounting for 30 per cent of fatalities. The installment of effective modern roundabouts has shown to drastically reduce the number of crashes in intersections. Reducing injury crashes by 74 per cent and total crashes by 35 per cent.
Roundabouts have not only reduced crashes at intersection, but have proven to decrease speeding.
Sometimes roundabouts are not always the best choice. They can only be effective in areas where there is enough land available to construct them. To construct some roundabouts, intersections may need to be enlarged. However, the amount of increased space from a traffic controlled intersection isn’t dramatic.
They are energy efficient and much cheaper than the costs required for traffic lights. Though roundabouts may not be effective in all areas, they can replace many of the city’s traffic signals and improve the sunny city of Kamloops.