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Old 10-21-2008, 10:57 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Round-a-bouts for saving gas

Recently, talking to a hypermiler, he implied that keeping the car moving, no matter what, was the SINGLE most important thing to do to increase fuel economy.

I try to time traffic lights as best I can, but I can never get them all.

In my town, the entire downtown was torn up and redesigned and re-paved. Part of the improvements included adding a round-a-bout where a four-way traffic light was before.

In a presentation by one of the city planners, he mentioned how a big part of the round-a-bout was that it would save people gas, by not having to wait at a traffic light.

A while back, I got to visit Scotland. (For work - 3 days total!)
They had round-a-bouts everywhere. Pretty much any place I would have expected to see traffic lights had a round-a-bout instead.

That got me thinking. Fuel is much more expensive in Europe than in the United States. They have many more round-a-bouts there than here.

Is there a connection? Are all those round-a-bouts mostly there to save gas?

Will U.S. road designers start to take this into consideration, to build roads for fuel savings?

We already have seperate ratings for fuel economy of City vs Highway. What's the difference? No traffic lights on the freeway!

If we combined driving slower (less wind resistance) with the no-stopping mentality of the freeway, that's a great way to max fuel economy.

A while back, I was coming home from the city REALLY LATE at night (I think it was a Sunday too!) There was literally zero traffic. I was able to take the mega-boulevard which is usually packed with traffic and lights.

There was no traffic and all the lights were green. I went 40 mph and got the best fuel economy I ever had in that vehicle.

Anyways, traffic circles to fight high fuel prices?

You decide!

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Old 10-21-2008, 11:33 PM   #2 (permalink)
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All of the roundabouts i've seen on major roads have stop signs, and i've seen a few in neighborhoods that you still have to stop to wait to merge, so i don't know if that would help or not. At least I wouldn't get a failure to stop ticket if they were roundabouts without stop signs
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Old 10-22-2008, 12:15 AM   #3 (permalink)
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That was my concern about roundabouts.

They work great in medium to low traffic, but high traffic bogs them down.

Ours just has yield signs, no stopping unless you have to because of somebody coming up on your left.
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Old 10-22-2008, 01:13 AM   #4 (permalink)
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They *only* don't work on high traffic when traffic doesn't know what to do. When in Australia last summer (07) I drove through 2 laned roundabouts. I was also a passenger in 3 laned roundabouts. We didn't slow down (much), speed limit was 30kph through the roundabout anyways. But big trucks, buses, cars, all moved through it from 5 (!!) different points, using all 3 lanes. People just knew to be in the lane they wanted BEFORE they got to the roundabout, so there wasn't people switching lanes when they reached it and in it.

It worked. Roundabouts only flaw are the drivers. IF people don't know how to use them, they will be slower than a stop light.
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Old 10-22-2008, 01:26 AM   #5 (permalink)
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The town I am from put in a round about in 2 years ago at a 5 way intersection that was always plagued with high wait times for traffic lights, sometimes for 2-3 cycles during rush hour. The new roundabout keeps up just fine during rush hour and certainly saves a TON of gas during non-rush hour. Additionally it is safer for pedestrians now and is aesthetically much more pleasing.
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Old 10-22-2008, 01:49 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I wonder if N. Americans have the sophistication to handle round-abouts en masse, basic fuel saving techniques seem lost to them and the cell phone attached to the ear is a disaster waiting to happen.
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Old 10-22-2008, 02:26 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Number of round-abouts multiplied in France 20 years ago. The conclusion is that people doesn't know how to handle them. Even those who got their driver license after that because they are doing how other people are doing and not how they were teached to do it.

As said, they are effective in low traffic. In high traffic (stop&go), most people in the round-abouts let pass 1 car behind them at each entry they cross but this is really suboptimal. Lights are optimal because they permit several consecutive cars to pass, making global traffic faster if you had to stop. In medium traffic (not stop&go for people inside the round-about), people doesn't let pass anybody so people are waiting a long time to enter from some entries...

In France these round-abouts multiplied because the mayors are in charge of local roads and they got intensives from government for security works proportional to their area, and area of lights are very small compare to area of a round-abouts. For that reason, speed reducers have multiplied and nowadays most are very dangerous for the car if you get it too fast, so people are breaking harder at the last tenth of second and re-accelerating at wot as soon as front wheels have left the speed reducer...

Stop thinking that French (but may apply to most European) are fighting high gas prices. Because constructors have rather efficient cars, people buying them get a right to waste gas... This will not improve as gas lost 25% since this summer (from 1.5€/l to 1.15€/l ie 5.6$/g now instead of 8.9$/g in June).

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Old 10-22-2008, 07:02 AM   #8 (permalink)
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There are a few in upstate new your area - as said they work well in medium and low traffic. we drove out to Boston and there are quite a few in Mass.

So they can work in the US on a small scale - but you get multi lane - multi entry/exit intersections - these could quickly go from "Round-abouts" to "Spiraling vortexes of death"

and in as a sub bullet to Ben's statement about Moving is the single most important thing... I wonder if time people are stuck in traffic because of an Accident is the single biggest "waster" of fuel over lights.

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Old 10-22-2008, 08:40 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Old 10-22-2008, 09:18 AM   #10 (permalink)
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We have hundreds of roundabouts in Massachusetts (they actually call them "rotarys" here...will relate funny story later in post). Given the over-population of this area and ridiculous impatient drivers they are extremely tricky. While cars entering the rotary are supposed to yield to cars already in the rotary it happens very rarely and it usually results in both drivers honking horns and exchanging "You're #1" pleasantries. I have never seen a rotary in this area marked with lanes although most have room for 2 or 3 car lanes.

I do believe they are useful to keep traffic flowing (vs. having a stoplight) and under normal driving situations I would prefer them for FE but during peak traffic times they cause huge backups as people overcrowd the rotary to try to become part of the flow of traffic therefore blocking all moving/turning options. It's even worse when the rotary includes a stoplight at a crossroad. While stoplights might be worse for FE at least there is some sort of organization in movement (and you can engine off at a determined amount of time at a stoplight).

Now funny story time...

Where I grew up in Pennsylvania we called them "roundabouts" and I had never heard the term "rotary." So my first week in Massachusetts I stopped to get directions from a local guy and he tells me to go to the rotary and take the first right. I get lost...stop for directions again...same directions. I do this four times and every time the directions are the same...I go into more and more detail with every person and I still get lost. You see...where I grew up a "rotary" is a social club (like the Elks, VWF, etc.) and is a building...not a roundabout. Nonetheless...I found my destination and from here on out call them rotary's.


Last edited by Matt Herring; 10-22-2008 at 09:26 AM..
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