Painted Roundabout

From somewhere in Germany, I believe (would be curious to know the exact location), a roundabout with nothing in the center save paint. I’d be curious about the stats for this intersection; on the whole it seems more or less orderly (there’s confusion but low-speed confusion), but some people just seem to blow straight through as if they had a green light in a signalized intersection.

This entry was posted on Saturday, January 15th, 2011 at 1:49 pm and is filed under Traffic Culture, Traffic Engineering, Traffic safety. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

23 Responses to “Painted Roundabout”

  1. Tom Says:

    Neat! A low-cost way to teach folks to cooperate in intersections. I enjoyed seeing the one red car try to go straight through, only to be schooled by the car coming around from behind that was following the described pattern.

  2. Brian Says:

    If you’d like to figure out where it is: the title indicates that it’s in the city of Erfurt, and there’s a LIDL supermarket (a big chain) on the corner. You can search for all the LIDL locations here; I started to look up the addresses on Google Maps, but got bored:

  3. Roberta Says:

    The video title is “Erfurter Kreisverkehr” which would imply it’s in the eastern city of Erfurt. Kreisverkehr means roundabout. Certainly doesn’t look very efficient, but perhaps on the Wohnurf principle it will confuse everyone equally and result in safe, albeit slow, travel

  4. Brian Says:

    Actually, one of the commenters says it’s the corner of Blücherstraße and Dornheimstraße in Erfurt; it’s hard to tell from the Google Maps photo whether that’s true or not, but it could be:

  5. Eric McClure Says:

    It does look a little chaotic, so it would be interesting to see stats. Some vehicles go around the loop, others straight through. I kept cringing in expectation of collisions, but maybe that’s my NY conditioning.

  6. Daniel Says:

    Noticed lots of these in Irish villages a few years ago. Often a tiny intersection would have no lights or signs (except maybe a roundabout warning sign) and a white dot eight feet across painted in the middle of the street. Perfect for a small intersection where turning is a little awkward: you carefully make the turn if there are other cars but can kind of ignore it if no one is around. But on a big one … I don’t know.

  7. Steven Says:

    The real question is: how effective is this roundabout? What is the accident rate compared to similar intersections and the intersection prior to having this painted? Has it achieved its purpose (whatever that was)?

    If they put up a small painted curb – more like a circular speedbump – they probably would very quickly train drivers to go around it rather than allow them to shortcut it.

  8. chrismealy Says:

    I can’t remember if it was in Wales or in England near Wales (it was three years ago) but I saw three foot wide dot roundabouts in nearly every village.

  9. bz2 Says:

    The “three foot wide dot” things are called “mini roundabouts” in the UK. You see them in continental Europe as well, but generally raised a bit to discourage people from going straight through. Note that these aren’t actually roundabouts, since they’re not signposted as such, they’re just a way of encouraging wider (and lower speed) left turns in residential areas.

  10. SteveL (a Bristol Traffic Team Member) Says:

    Mini-roundabouts in the UK are a way to fit roundabout like give-way rules into smaller areas. They have the same rules of priority (vehicles waiting to get on give way to vehicles on it), but in a smaller space.

    They can deadlock quite easily :

  11. Scott Says:

    I like the idea of a “circular speed bump” to keep people from driving straight across. I was thinking those collapsible plastic reflective “sticks” might also work.

  12. Scott Says:

    Even better might be some handsome potted trees. Functional and beautiful.

  13. David Says:

    In the French town of Gex there was (and might still be: I think I can see it on Google maps) a traffic circle consisting of a one meter diameter painted white disk. It was located at the intersection of two narrow streets. Not only did they cross at acute angle but steep grades were involved creating very poor visibility. Back then, traffic circles were still new in France. The only cars that carefully drove around that circle were driven by student drivers…

  14. Max Power Says:

    I think the plastix flex-stick barriers or a circular speed bump would be better than a solid barrier, since you don’t want to obstruct vision.

    More importantly, what is the design of the road leading up to this intersection. People seem to be coming up to it at something like 90 kph. It looks like this design would benefit from some traffic calming on the road below this intersection.

  15. Josh R Says:

    Looks like it works about as well as one would expect given that even in places where roundabouts are common, people tend to expect the visual cue of a raised center section, and without that only the drivers who are paying close attention will drive correctly.

    I can only imagine what would happen if you put one of those in a city in the US, or better yet a city that gets any kind of snowfall…

  16. Jan-Albert de Leur Says:

    There are some of these small roundabouts in the Netherlands: like these:,5.218161&spn=0.000589,0.001206&t=k&z=20

    They work pretty fine.

  17. Michiel Says:

    If they add a small barrier or elevate the center a bit (e.g. with an extra level of asphalt) it will work better I think. A plus of this design is that long trucks with trailers can still pass the intersection.

  18. Biks Says:

    Roundabouts are a pretty new thing in Germany. They started to build a few in the 90s but only in the last ten years they became really popular. And, I’ve never seen one without any kind of barrier in the center. There are lots of regulations how to set up roads and signs by authorities (e.g., using the wrong font or type of arrow on a sign makes it invalid) so it’s pretty surprising that this is possible.

    I guess the problem is that the right-of-way rules are completely different if you don’t recognize the roundabout as such by the small blue sign (which is essential). In that case the red triangular sign means to let cars from the left and the right pass which also confuses as that street is much smaller.

  19. jvb Says:

    According to the comments on YouTube they have now added a small island.

  20. Bossi Says:

    Maryland has a roundabout formed by pavement markings, as well, located just across the Bay from Annapolis:,-76.310525&spn=0.00152,0.002401&z=19

    You can catch a glimpse in Street View from along US 50.

  21. Bossi Says:

    Ahh- I should add that the Maryland roundabout works great. While it serves a local population most of the year, in summer it gets traveled quite a fair bit by tourists headed for the beaches. Even then it fares quite well.

  22. Fritz Menzl Says:

    The problem “on the continent”: In Germany and Austria too, they misunderstod the function of a the classic roundabout in UK.

    The UK roundabout is an “blown up” intersection and you drive and set your direction lights lik on other intersection.

    UK Left hand driving and right hand rule leads to an “organic” rule of giveing Way on roundabouts.

    UK Rules of the road know the passing side by side for two vehicles.

    This maneuver is unknown in German and Austrian Rule of the road.

    “The Kreisverkehr” is defined as a closed lane, and has tob be used as “mary go round” … aech abpoaching lane is defined as one intersection.

    The smaller the “Circle”, the harder to understand the rules, in Germany you allways have to follow the outer circle.

    Rundabouts are used to get speed out of the road, and not getting better synchronisation effect.

    .. misunderstanding the rounabut princuple, they built “Zebracrosings” on the roundabouts, an make bike lanes around the outer lane of the circles – a nogo in the UK.

    problem with micro roundabout all over the country.

  23. Michiel Says:

    I was wondering if people outside the NL are familiar with the turbo roundabout? It’s a multilane roundabout, but the different directions are separated. It can handle more traffic than a standard multilane roundabout.

    This is the largest one we have now, though most a just two lanes wide:,4.456133&aq=&sll=51.969019,4.456179&sspn=0.012519,0.033023&ie=UTF8&ll=51.968097,4.456158&spn=0.001565,0.004128&t=k&z=19

Leave a Reply

Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

Please send tips, news, research papers, links, photos (bad road signs, outrageous bumper stickers, spectacularly awful acts of driving or parking or anything traffic-related), or ideas for my Transport column to me at:

For publicity inquiries, please contact Kate Runde at Vintage:

For editorial inquiries, please contact Zoe Pagnamenta at The Zoe Pagnamenta Agency:

For speaking engagement inquiries, please contact
Kim Thornton at the Random House Speakers Bureau:

Order Traffic from:

Amazon | B&N | Borders
Random House | Powell’s

U.S. Paperback UK Paperback
Traffic UK
Drive-on-the-left types can order the book from

For UK publicity enquiries please contact Rosie Glaisher at Penguin.

Upcoming Talks

April 9, 2008.
California Office of Traffic Safety Summit
San Francisco, CA.

May 19, 2009
University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies
Bloomington, MN

June 23, 2009
Driving Assessment 2009
Big Sky, Montana

June 26, 2009
PRI World Congress
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

June 27, 2009
Day of Architecture
Utrecht, The Netherlands

July 13, 2009
Association of Transportation Safety Information Professionals (ATSIP)
Phoenix, AZ.

August 12-14
Texas Department of Transportation “Save a Life Summit”
San Antonio, Texas

September 2, 2009
Governors Highway Safety Association Annual Meeting
Savannah, Georgia

September 11, 2009
Oregon Transportation Summit
Portland, Oregon

October 8
Honda R&D Americas
Raymond, Ohio

October 10-11
INFORMS Roundtable
San Diego, CA

October 21, 2009
California State University-San Bernardino, Leonard Transportation Center
San Bernardino, CA

November 5
Southern New England Planning Association Planning Conference
Uncasville, Connecticut

January 6
Texas Transportation Forum
Austin, TX

January 19
Yale University
(with Donald Shoup; details to come)

Monday, February 22
Yale University School of Architecture
Eero Saarinen Lecture

Friday, March 19
University of Delaware
Delaware Center for Transportation

April 5-7
University of Utah
Salt Lake City
McMurrin Lectureship

April 19
International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (Organization Management Workshop)
Austin, Texas

Monday, April 26
Edmonton Traffic Safety Conference
Edmonton, Canada

Monday, June 7
Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals
Niagara Falls, Ontario

Wednesday, July 6
Fondo de Prevención Vial
Bogotá, Colombia

Tuesday, August 31
Royal Automobile Club
Perth, Australia

Wednesday, September 1
Australasian Road Safety Conference
Canberra, Australia

Wednesday, September 22

Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s
Traffic Incident Management Enhancement Program
Statewide Conference
Wisconsin Dells, WI

Wednesday, October 20
Rutgers University
Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation
Piscataway, NJ

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre
Injury Prevention Forum

Monday, May 2
Idaho Public Driver Education Conference
Boise, Idaho

Tuesday, June 2, 2011
California Association of Cities
Costa Mesa, California

Sunday, August 21, 2011
American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Attitudes: Iniciativa Social de Audi
Madrid, Spain

April 16, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Gardens Theatre, QUT
Brisbane, Australia

April 17, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Centennial Plaza, Sydney
Sydney, Australia

April 19, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Melbourne Town Hall
Melbourne, Australia

January 30, 2013
University of Minnesota City Engineers Association Meeting
Minneapolis, MN

January 31, 2013
Metropolis and Mobile Life
School of Architecture, University of Toronto

February 22, 2013
ISL Engineering
Edmonton, Canada

March 1, 2013
Australian Road Summit
Melbourne, Australia

May 8, 2013
New York State Association of
Transportation Engineers
Rochester, NY

August 18, 2013 “Ingenuity” Conference
San Francisco, CA

September 26, 2013
TransComm 2013
(Meeting of American Association
of State Highway and Transportation
Officials’ Subcommittee on Transportation
Grand Rapids MI



January 2011
« Dec   Feb »

No, you probably won be compensated one million dollars; however, with the right blend of negotiating skills and patience, your efforts will be substantially rewarded!I have seen up to forty thousand dollars added to starting compensation through diligent negotiations. It is a way to significantly raise your standard of living and sense of self, simply by