Growing up in wide-open states of Texas and Tennessee has its advantages, but the lack of preparation for driving in a congested city isn’t one of them. Anyone who’s ridden with me as I try to parallel park the Aztek can attest to that. D.C.’s traffic circles are a second obstacle I’d never learned to maneuver. On first moving here, it amazed me that people managed every day to travel unscathed through these illogical circles of death. I eventually concluded that that was exactly the reason why they worked: with everyone equally confused about what the heck they’re doing, they drive extra carefully and thereby avoid disaster.
Alex Tabarrok points to this article in Wired explaining how this way of thinking is changing the way planners design roads. By making drivers rely more on their own judgments and interactions instead of rule-based signs, traffic can be made more efficient, safe, and pedestrian-friendly.
Illogical circles of death? More like welcoming roundabouts of spontaneous order.