We know there are a lot of roundabouts in Central Oregon. Some love them. Some loathe them.
But we’re not the roundabout capital of the United States. We’re not even close.
That title belongs to a city that is of similar population size to Bend. And by 2025, it will have but one stoplight left in the entire town.
The city is home to 142 roundabouts and counting. That’s 100 more than Bend, according to the latest count in a May article by Bend Magazine.
Carmel Mayor James Brainard — who we interviewed last year when talking about roundabouts in Bend — says it makes the community safer and greener.
“Two cars are going through this intersection. A roundabout would have moved 30 cars through in the same amount of time,” Brainard says, sitting at one of the few stoplights left in Carmel.
The city has been able to remove traffic lanes even as the population has more than quadrupled. But the traffic keeps flowing like water. It also slows traffic down, making it safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.
The Insurance Institute For Highway Safety found the switch to roundabouts cut injury crashes by nearly half. And busy intersections — like exiting highways — saw an 84% drop.
As traffic fatalities continue to rise in the U.S., we really need to use all the tools in our toolbox and roundabouts are one of those tools.
And by eliminating idling at traffic lights, Carmel’s roundabouts remove the equivalent of 5,000 cars worth of carbon dioxide while saving drivers an estimated $14 million in gas, says former city engineer Michael McBride.
So why aren’t roundabouts more common in the us?
“I think the biggest piece of that is education,” said McBride. “Roundabouts, in general, can work anywhere in the U.S.”
Nationally there are about 7,200 roundabouts.
CBS News contributed to this report.