They're in cities all over the world from Paris to Beijing and Montgomery and the roundabouts look like they are here to stay. Experts say they cut down on accidents and fatalities and save energy and money too.
However, if you've never seen one before it may take some getting use to and a couple of the drivers said they're not used to it yet. "It's just different. You're not sure which way to go. But do you think it's a good thing or a bad thing? I think it's going to be good. You just got to get use to it." Another said, "You just follow the arrows is what I do. Follow the arrows around."
First, you yield and then go around and around. Instead of wasting gas and energy and time waiting at a red light, the traffic here keeps moving and at a much slower pace. Plus, the Mayor's Executive Assistant, Jeff Downes, says the roundabout is prettier. "You don't have the wires and power wires hanging across the intersection. You can dress them up with landscaping and they're more efficient."
And, there are drivers who agree with Downes. "I like roundabouts. I think they work well as long as everybody works together."
But, there are problems. Big trucks and buses can't maneuver the one lane at one of the roundabouts as easily as cars. Downes has a solution for that. "You can see there are roll-up curves that allow the wheels of a vehicle to mount the side the concrete apron in the area. So, that's OK for them to do that? It's designed for that way. You don't have your standard curb and gutter where it's keeping wheels from going up."
Soon, there will the three roundabouts downtown. One is under construction near the capitol at Washington and Bainbridge. The other is at the fountain at Court Square and there's one near the State House at Ripley and Washington. And, a fourth driver there had a different opinion about the roundabout. "If it was a bigger area I could see it, but I really don't like it."
Downes is confident the concept will grow on motorists. "Change is difficult. We live in Montgomery, Alabama and we live in the south. Change is difficult for people, but I think when it's all said and done, I think everybody will recognize this is a safer more economical and efficient way to drive through downtown Montgomery."
And, there will be a fourth roundabout in the Cottage Hills area at Five Points. Construction on that one begins in about four months.