‘No place in the world exerts such attractive power as an island.’ Robert Louis Stevenson
Welcome to the new re-vamped website www. Roundabouts of Britain.com – home to the UK Roundabout Appreciation Society.
God’s Wonderful Roundabouts, they have always been with us, all our driving lives, right in front of our eyes, every day of the year. Thanks to UKRAS they are now finally being viewed and appreciated in a new light.
Roads are often condemned as being scars on the landscape but with the coming of the roundabout in all their glory, they counteract the road’s unsightliness. With infinite variety, colour and creative-ness, these bitumen babes lift our sagging spirits on long tiresome trips.
The roundabout is truly an oasis on a sea of tarmac.
On road systems anywhere in the world there is nothing more expressive than the one-way gyratory. You can put anything on a gyratory, I’ve witnessed – statues, fountains, monuments, war memorials, gardens, topiaries, sculptures, laser & light shows, ship’s anchors, canal locks, winged horses, pubs, cinemas, clocks, churches, shrines, duck ponds, giant barometers, giant mosquitoes, giant butterflies, giant barometers, Spitfires, jet planes, windmills, flying saucers, sword fish, giant cockerels, cricket grounds, pagodas and even Houses of Parliament (Canberra, Australia), you name it anything goes on a roundabout, and this is what makes them so special.
But what makes them so special to the English? We can all agree the English love their gardens. With roundabouts every local council brimming with civic pride has the opportunity to plant a garden in full bloom on any road junction that takes their fancy.
Coupled with this they are so quintessentially English in the manner in which we all navigate and sail around these verdant islands.
Un-like fascist, robotic traffic lights where we are told when to stop and go, the roundabout allows us to show one another our very own English driving decorum. We approach the island at our own chosen speed, in the lane of our choice. Co-operating and queuing accordingly with our fellow drivers, we wait for a gap and join the gentle gyratory flow in our own time, signalling our intentions and leaving at our chosen exit. Never is a road system better suited to the English consciousness than one that involves a set of rules and guidelines that harbours a carefully balanced system that relies on etiquette and protocol.
Yet the history of the one-way gyratory would you believe has foreign roots. It’s widely accepted that William Phelps Eno was the bright spark who first devised the idea of a one-way rotary system in 1903, for Columbus Circle, New York City, USA. Closely followed by Eugene Hernard, Chief Architect of Paris, France in 1907. Great Britain’s claim in the history of gyratory circles was that the term ‘roundabout’ was coined by us in 1926, and replaced the term ‘gyratory’. Our first true ‘gyratory flow’ system was developed at Sollershot Circus, Letchworth Garden City in the late twenties.
There is no green in traffic lights, only red!
Research in America has shown – where a roundabout has been installed, savings of up to 40% on fuel can be saved, due to the fact the traffic is flowing more freely.
According to the Pennsylvania Transport Department, roundabouts result in 90% reduction in fatalities, 76% reduction in injuries and 35% reduction in all crashes. When there is a collision on a roundabout they tend to be sideswipes as opposed to a head on crash. You can always shoot a red light, roundabouts however are tricky to drive round fast.
Add up hospital equipment and care costs, car body repairs, vehicle towing costs, insurance fees, fuel costs, maintenance and electricity….blinking traffic lights have a lot to answer for.
How green is my roundabout? Well a lot of people don’t realise they have become havens for wildlife. Surrounded by busy traffic, animals are protected from predators and people don’t interfere. Wild life is left to thrive.
To maintain your average roundabout all you need basically is a gardener to cut the lawn and plant the flowers. How green is that? Praise the ’bout!
Kevin Beresford president of UKRAS aka Lord of the Ruings