A Roundabout Way of Saving Money and Energy

The following post is written by NC State staff member Liz Bowen, University Sustainability Office program coordinator.

While roundabouts are extremely common in Europe, they’ve only recently begun popping up in and around Raleigh. As a part of the $9.9 million makeover of Hillsborough Street in 2011, the City of Raleigh added the Bell Tower Roundabout. According to Hillsborough Street’s Phase II Revitalization Project, there are plans for at least three more. Here’s why:


1. Energy and Fuel Savings

Roundabouts reduce waiting time and fuel consumption. By reducing idling, ten circular intersections in Virginia were found to save 200,000 gallons of gas each year.


2. Safety

Data suggests that traffic circles result in less traffic injuries and fatalities, as compared with traffic signals.


3. Traffic

Roundabouts result in fewer stops and lower traffic delays. During rush hour, roundabouts can accommodate 30-50 percent more vehicles because traffic is always moving.


4. Operational savings

Roundabouts are less expensive to operate and maintain than traffic signals.


It’s clear that roundabouts create savings, but how do we safely get around them? Here are some tips:


Use the sidewalk and designated crosswalk. The median island (along the crosswalk) is there to provide pedestrians a refuge between lanes. You have the right of way, but keep an eye out for cars, trucks and bicycles.



Enter the roundabout when there is a safe gap in the traffic. Remember to yield to traffic in the roundabout, and once in, stay in your lane. When you reach your exit, turn on your right turn signal and exit the roundabout.



Bicyclists using the street should follow the same rules as motorists, occupying the middle of the lane. Bicyclists using the sidewalk should follow the same rules as pedestrians.


Now that you know the benefits of roundabouts, are you in favor of more roundabouts around NC State?