Single Lane and Multi-Lane Roundabouts
A roundabout is a spot where more than two pathways converge. It is the spot where pathways traverse each other thus calling for road users to drive at a lower speed while obeying traffic rules before leaving that route to the other. Roundabouts are unavoidable since it is not possible to have only one road in the entire state. Thus, having other roads joining the main road or a highway is of the essence. Even in the villages, there are sub-roads coming from a particular village or street to join the other street or village. It is, therefore, fundamental to consider how to design the roads especially around the junction area in order to minimize accidents and traffic jams yet simplifying junctions, which will make the navigation easier. It is also essential to have clear road signs near a roundabout. Many highways are designed in such a way that if drivers take a wrong turn, they may be required to drive for several miles to take the right lane on the next roundabout. Thus, construction of pathways and pathway models or sketches is necessary for any state or country.
Roundabouts are restricted into three main classes depending on the width and the portion of pathways that each has. One of them is a mini roundabout, the second is a single lane roundabout and the third is the multi-lane roundabouts. A single lane roundabout has only a single path at all points that allow a vehicle to join another route. One path can only give way to only one car at a time. Multi-lane roundabouts have several pathways and can give way to more than one vehicle at the same time driving alongside each other. Roundabouts are safer than other junctions with no proper systems in place for a car to join the other road. Low speeds and a low number of conflicts make roundabouts more efficient. Single lane roundabouts are non-traversable, ensuring that the vehicles slow down and give each other the ability to pass. Single lane roundabouts are the safest as compared to multilane ones since the speed of the vehicle is low, thus reducing the possibility of vehicle collision. At the same time, it is easy for a pedestrian or bicycle to cross the road without tension as they can check if there is an incoming vehicle before crossing. If there is any, they can wait and then cross comfortably when the road is clear. Since it is a one lane roundabout, there is no chance that a car may be approaching very fast from another lane.
The pathways that have several lines in roundabouts pose a challenge when it comes to the safety of the foot road users. The danger lays in the fact that pedestrians have several lines to pass before getting to the other side. Thus, even if they have checked and made sure the road was clear before starting to move, they are still at risk of meeting a car in the middle of the road or towards its end. Vehicles in this case move at a very high-speed since the different lanes facilitate several vehicles at a time (Robertson, 1994). Thus, the probability of a pedestrian, who is crossing over, to be hit by high-speed vehicles is very high too; thus, it is risky and dangerous for pedestrians to cross on foot. It is especially the case for wide roads with more than two lanes. Therefore, in many places, the government has built foot bridges for pedestrians to use. It is advisable for them to use the foot bridges and not put their lives at risk trying to cross a multi-lane roundabout. It is also unsafe for motorcyclists or bicycle riders. Vehicles in a multilane will mostly cut down speed to a reasonable and maneuverable level because the road facilitates more than one vehicle to pass at the same time. Thus, the risk of vehicle collision is possible. The likely conflicts in a roundabout are rear end, sideswipe and entering circulation. Good designs can, however, help to minimize these issues.
Roundabouts also provide space and time for the drivers to study the road directions and the different turns to decide which lane is the best for them to use and which turn will lead them to where they are headed to. It is more practicable in a single lane than in a multiple lane since vehicles in a multilane move faster and may not give the driver enough time to consider the pointers. The latter are installed by the Ministry of Transportation to provide guidance to road users. Roundabouts also make road usage easier even for a new driver. When drivers want to leave a one trail highway to the left, they must flash to notify other motorists. When one desires to use the other way to the right, he/she should use the light signal mounted in vehicles to warn other road users, avoid mix-up and let other vehicles that head a different direction to get ready for it.
When approaching a multilane, one must decide which path to take as a turn on the wrong lane may take many miles to find a place to turn back and continue the initial direction. In addition, an important thing to know is which lane to use when approaching the roundabout. Being in the wrong lane and trying to navigate to the right turn may easily cause a traffic jam and/or confuse other road users. Thus, if one wishes to turn left, then he or she should use the left lane for convenience of all road users and vice versa. One is also supposed to use the correct signal depending on the intended turn. In many instances, road marks will be used to guide the road user on the different directions of a several-lines roundabout.
The holding ability of a pathway leans on the number of road users it can handle at a time without building up a traffic jam. A single lane roundabout has a limited handling ability as compared to the other types of roundabouts. The number of vehicles that a one-line pathway can allow to pass at a given time is low, which becomes the determining factor of its handling ability. All other vehicles are forced to move slowly or stop to allow one car to use the path.
A multilane has a bigger capacity since it is wide enough to handle several cars at a time. Thus, in a busy road or street, multi-lane roundabouts are better. They allow vehicles to move faster thus serving more road users at a time and avoiding traffic jams, unless if the vehicles using the road at the time are too many.
Pedestrians have an area specifically designed and marked for them to use. When intending to cross, one is not supposed just to cross over without checking whether the road is safe to use. A person wanting to pass through a busy path on foot should check whether there is any incoming vehicle. It is recommended to cross the road in the safe places, where there are no vehicles at all (Blackmore, 2005). It also enhances safety of the people. An experienced cyclist also stands a better chance to maneuver through the vehicles without causing accidents. However, a single lane roundabout is better and safer for the cyclists with less experience. A situation where an inexperienced cyclist is in the middle of a multi-lane roundabout with several vehicles driving at a relatively high speed is extremely dangerous. The cyclist is at a higher risk of causing accidents in a multilane unlike in a single lane.
It is important to note that roundabouts have fewer stops and reduced delays as compared to the roads with traffic lights requiring drivers to stop for a few minutes and give way to the cars from other lanes, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. Both single lane and multi-lane roundabouts have this advantage.
Roundabouts play a particular role in preserving the environment as they facilitate movement of vehicles, even though at a slower speed, reducing the idling time while waiting for the traffic signals. Vehicles are able to move without delays or idling, which allows higher speed thus reducing the quantity of exhaust gases being emitted into the atmosphere. When the cars are stuck in the traffic or are being stopped by traffic lights, they use more fuel, thus causing pollution. In this case, a multilane roundabout is more helpful in preserving the environment than a single-lane one. It has the capacity to handle many vehicles at a time with less idling or delays.
Moreover, the cost of maintaining traffic lights is high (Blackmore, 2005) since it includes the electricity cost and the cost of replacing or repairing in the event of breakdown. In their turn, roundabouts do not require additional spending. The road users can drive without the need for the traffic lights. The only additional equipment that may be needed in a roundabout is the arrows showing different directions to the drivers. A single lane in this case will be less costly when compared to a multi-lane one since the directions are more obvious for single lane users than for multi-lane users.
Roundabouts have contributed to the systematized and efficient traffic flow. Vehicles are now able to join other routes without causing delays or blockage to others going in a different direction. As the cars move, the traffic flows. It is the case in both single lane and multilane roundabouts (Fortujin, 2009). However, unlike single lane, multi-lane roundabouts are more efficient since they can enable multiple vehicles to flow at the same time.
Research carried out and published by the United States Department of transportation, Federal Highway Administration (2010) demonstrates a 90% reduction in fatalities, 76% decrease in accidents and physical hurts, 35% decrease in pedestrian accidents in roundabouts. Increased safety is one of the advantages roundabouts have over other conventional intersections. Thus, it can be stated that construction of roundabouts brings many benefits such as raising in the safety levels of all road users both on foot and the ones driving and reducing the number of vehicles’ collision.
In conclusion, one of the key elements in the design of the road is a roundabout. As stated earlier, it is not possible to have only one road in the entire state. Sub roads are important as they lead to the interiors of different places. Therefore, one cannot avoid a situation where two or more roads would be joining each other. Earlier, there was no emphasis on how it should be done because the number of cars on the roads was very small. With the development of technologies and a major increase in car owners, it is of the essence to encourage the development of different projects regarding pathways and roundabouts to improve their efficiency. The number of road users is increasing daily and so does the number of cars. What is more, they are exceeding the pathways available especially at points of road convergence. Multilane roundabouts are gaining popularity. Other designs include some roads being built especially for the express vehicles and the underground highways, which is made in an effort to ease the process of convergence of pathways while minimizing traffic jams.