The roundabout made me do it

A headline on WCCO.com caught my attention this afternoon.


Roundabout Causes Cattle Truck Tip-Over

The accompanying story was about a driver whose truck, with 32 cows, flipped over because he was unaware of the roundabout, the hottest new thing in Minnesota traffic control.

Of course, this would be like running a stop sign and then headlining the story “stop sign causes cattle truck tip-over,” which is better, I suppose, than “cattle truck driver, driving too fast and not paying attention causes cattle truck trip-over.”

Last summer, I put a short slideshow together explaining the science of the roundabout:

Woodbury’s roundabout experiment has been so successful — if one ignores the woman who almost t-boned me a few weeks ago when she went careening through without stopping, apparently believing the old Minnesota adage, “if I’m talking on my cellphone, you’re not really there” — they’re building another one.

They’re supposed to be — and usually are — a fairly simple process. But don’t tell that to Wisconsin, which has put together an online video that takes 11 minutes to tell you how to drive through one.

  • brian

    I don’t like roundabouts, but logically I see why they make sense, so I think we should build more of them. Eventually we’ll get used to them.

  • http://www.trailblz.com Brian Hanf

    I got used to roundabout when living in Portland, OR. They are done a little different than what you show. In OR they are very small just about the size of the normal intersections.

    I think they, roundabouts, are a little weird but following basic driving rules/directions make them safe. Of course we have all seen that far too many people do not follow basic driving rules or directions anymore (come on people it’s called the zipper merge).

    Bob – It’s not a Minnesota adage, I have seen plenty of drivers in other states follow the “if I’m talking on my cellphone, you’re not really there” mentality.

  • Bill

    You may not like the “fishhook” signs (from your slideshow), but they beat a standard left arrow. At the releatively new roundabouts at Hwy 61 and Jamaica Ave in Cottage Grove, people were turning left into oncoming traffic. The fishhook at least shows you have to go around something.

  • Amanda

    Bob -

    You are too good. This slideshow is too funny. I positively love it. So very seriously, yet with a light heart ,you have embodied every man and woman who drives on MN roads and their utter stupidity.

    Much love, Amanda

  • bsimon

    The woodbury roundabout looks like a nice big one. The Richfield versions are a bit tighter. Many drivers seem a bit confused upon encountering the feature. At my local roundy, the minnehaha/minnehaha intersection, I frequently encounter drivers who blast on through, oblivious to the appropriate protocol.

  • Jim!!!

    Most Minnesotans don’t seem to understand (or maybe don’t care) what “Yield” means versus “Merge”.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but Yield means the other person gets to go first, and Merge means you’re on equal footing so be polite.

  • DS

    So they’re done differently, not only in different states but in different suburbs. And we’re supposed to figure them out each time while guiding a couple tons of vehicle through crowded intersections. The one near Southdale in Edina with its near misses gives me palpitations every time I forget to avoid it. I think we’re being taken in, paying street designers to come up with something that a left turn lane and some stop lights have solved perfectly well for decades. The sign in your slideshow proves my point. It looks like it was created by someone in a dim room filled with funny smelling smoke. The blasted things should be considered a failed experiement, no matter how long they’ve been in use in other countries.