Even one day in traffic jams can affect your carbon footprint by making the average trip more likely to be congested. And even if you consider that fact before you get into your car, you’re still paying a pretty penny for wasted fuel.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, additional transportation-related carbon emissions can account for up to 70 percent of the emissions still produced by non-combustion engine vehicles.
That’s where roundabouts become useful, because they’re a proven way to cut down on the amount of cars driving around a neighborhood.
The DOE also points out how working with the Roundabout Urban Challenge and combining their data with the input from engineers across the country has been helpful in guiding new roundabout designs.
Virginia is setting up six roundabouts on Interstate 81, between Manassas and Danville, with two to be located in Chantilly. The DOT and the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority predict that they will cut down on congestion for drivers on all the way down I-81 until about Manassas.
So far, roundabouts have been created in eight cities in the U.S., including Peoria, Ill., Taunton, Mass., Hartford, Conn., and Milwaukee, Wisc. However, those are primarily single-lane roundabouts, or “paves” that try to minimize the distance between cars through the intersection.
The Silver States project, which includes roundabouts in Tucson, Ariz., Madison, Wis., and Salt Lake City, have also put them in the spotlight.
In parts of Florida, residents use roundabouts to alleviate traffic congestion and speed up travel time. According to the University of Florida, roundabouts in Gainesville are projected to cut down on wait times at traffic lights and reduce emissions by 40 percent. They will also save some 560,000 gallons of gasoline a year.
The bigger question is how to incorporate roundabouts into major cities like New York. For example, if you have any vehicles involved in government operations, it’s possible that transportation vehicles could take advantage of roundabouts or utilize a roundabout model that utilizes a single entry gate to get access to the city.