When we first moved to the UK, I wasn’t a fan. But, to be honest it was because roundabouts were unfamiliar, not because they didn’t work. Obviously, the UK wasn’t going to bend to my inflexibility, so I had to learn. Surprisingly enough (not really), I came to love the roundabout, and now that we’re back in the US, I miss them. Not just because of the amazing efficiency and increased safety, but also because when there’s no traffic you don’t have to stop – ever. This is great from a sustainability perspective, and it’s also great because you don’t have to stop.
So what does this have to do with cycling? The answer is that all of the great things about roundabouts also apply to bikes. You don’t have to stop, unless you need to yield. This also means that confusing rules like stop as yield, which make drivers angry when they don’t know, are unnecessary. So too, are the laws that make it legal for a cyclist to run a red light under certain conditions. That’s not to say that roundabouts are perfect (i.e. dominant flow problem), but compared to the alternative (multi-lane four-way stop signs…) they are an amazing boon to cars and bikes alike.