Roundabouts are good for the environment, and they’re good for your wallet

A series of roundabouts help reduce carbon emissions.

The cost of a carbon tax or cap-and-trade plan would be lowered if traffic patterns shifted away from the continued use of highway straightaways. In a recent study, Penn State University researchers found that these non-capital modes of travel, such as bus or bike trips, generate at least 3 times as much carbon dioxide emissions as car trips. It’s a greater amount than the emissions from the automobile itself.

Roundabouts are not just about reducing emissions; they also encourage drivers to make smaller trips. Roundabouts reduce traffic congestion and stress by reducing the number of lanes that must be used for cars. When roundabouts are used properly, the journey for traveling down a straightaway is reduced by 40 percent. That is, in essence, quadruple the energy savings because of the changes in traveling patterns. Drivers must now choose between roads, but they get to choose less from the high density straightways and more from the less congested side roads. The 100 most congested routes in the country currently use 40 percent of the country’s highway lane miles, and these drivers simply want to travel more efficiently. Roundabouts, located on these high-traffic routes, play a critical role in reducing the congestion and preventing driver stress.

Roundabouts also help cut down on the use of fossil fuels because they force drivers to make shorter trips and, therefore, reduce the amount of fuel burnt per vehicle mile. A majority of Americans drive a vehicle which averages about 5,000 miles per year. For those drivers who tend to drive more than 5,000 miles per year, the savings from roundabouts could amount to an average of $7,000 per year!

To really get the full benefits of roundabouts and to lower carbon emissions, let’s drive in the right direction when we pave more asphalt.

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