Going in circles can have its benefits - Metro US

Going in circles can have its benefits

With the southwest ring road leg indefinitely broken, it’s refreshing to see the city has bounced back with alternate plans set for construction in the next month.

To ease Glenmore Trail and 37th Street congestion, eastbound traffic will no longer be able to make a left turn onto 37th Street. Instead, those heading eastbound will be directed south on 37th Street where they’ll go through a roundabout before heading northbound on 37th Street.

This rerouting will add 20 seconds of movement for Glenmore traffic.

The move will temporarily ease congestion at a cost of $250,000. Long term, the plan is to construct a $40-million interchange.

As with any change, criticism of the temporary roundabout has been flowing with some wanting the interchange to go ahead straight away and others claiming the roundabout will be too confusing.

As a previous resident of McKenzie Towne, where moving through a roundabout is the only way to get in or out of the community, I’m familiar with roundabout rumblings that usually end with a snide remark about Europeans.

Indeed, roundabouts are common in Europe and they’re showing up more close to home, too — but for good reason. Roundabouts, or traffic circles, have many benefits.

They are generally more economical to construct and maintain because of the absence of traffic signals; the central islands add greenspace to what would otherwise be a concrete intersection;

they calm traffic due to the slower speeds needed to navigate around the circle; traffic delays, idling and air pollution are reduced because traffic is allowed to flow freely without stopping.

Carolyn Cruk, a former Calgarian who’s since lived in Paris and now resides in New York City, thinks traffic circles are efficient and refers to the Place Charles de Gaulle as “controlled chaos.” Cruk, who walks more than she drives, has found roundabouts easy to get used to and thinks Calgarians can adjust as well.

Navigating a traffic circle is quite simple, really. Signal to enter, yield to traffic already in the circle and drive in. Once in, circulate around counter-clockwise to the right of the centre island. To exit, signal, move to the right lane and merge out.

This temporary, relatively low cost, congestion-easing solution will be complete mid-October and soon enough, more Calgarians will adjust to the ways of the roundabout.

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