October 15, 2001
Replace stop lights with roundabouts
Why is there such an antipathy in this area toward roundabouts in general and the one proposed for 124th and Hwy. 203 at Novelty in particular? As a native of the UK I have seen roundabouts become widespread in Britain and across most of Europe.
The principle is very simple ‹ as you approach the roundabout, you look left and if any vehicle is approaching on the roundabout, you give way to it and wait until it is clear.
If nothing is coming, you don't need to stop and can keep going. Once you are on the roundabout, you go round until you reach your exit and peel off.
Anybody waiting to enter the junction from an entrance that you are approaching must wait for you to pass.
There are several advantages to roundabouts over traffic lights. First, a roundabout has no set "timing" as the priority is assigned by the traffic flow itself. Second, the geometry of the junction forces all traffic to slow down even if nothing is coming, as the result of approaching too fast is to finish up sitting ignominiously in the middle of the mound. Third, as there is no set stop and go time, the switching time where all traffic is stopped is eliminated.
In short, roundabouts work! The animosity is purely a reaction to a new type of traffic scheme not seen here before.
We consider ourselves to be the most advanced nation on earth, but we can't handle a traffic scheme proven to work well everywhere else it has been tried worldwide (with the exception of France where traffic on the roundabout must give way to traffic entering it!). Come on! We can do it! I for one would love to see many of the stop lights between here and Redmond replaced with roundabouts. They even work during power outages and after earthquakes!
Ian King, Duvall