Roundabouts are not better than rotaries
RE “Mass comes around” (Page A1, Oct. 9): When the new Wakefield roundabout first opened, I saw cars stopped in lanes trying to figure it out. I continue to see cars stopped in lanes trying to figure it out. I’ve lived in the area for almost 27 years and never saw that before.
I’m an engineer and have spent my career focused primarily on safety and risk management (in medical technology, a different domain to be sure, but safety principles are not domain specific). Anyone who believes the Wakefield roundabout is safer than was the Wakefield rotary is, in technical terms, full of it.
It may well be that statistical comparisons of rotaries and roundabouts in general indicate that the latter are relatively more safe than the former. But Wakefield is an adaptation from the former to the latter in a specific instance with its own peculiarities. Based on my many trips through it, I’m extremely skeptical that it is safer.
What’s in a name?
RE “Mass. comes around”: A rotary is a rotary is a rotary. So is a roundabout, which is just what the Brits call the same thing. Their word is lately fashionable among highway planners, possibly in the belief that if it’s British it must be cool. (Or maybe in a misguided attempt to unite New England with the rest of the United States, which mostly calls them “traffic circles.”)
So please, let’s not be misled into thinking that our rotaries are being replaced by some trendy new invention. They’re being improved, redesigned, updated, rationalized, or whatever. But when the work is done, rotaries they will remain, as long as the traffic goes round and round.