Roundabouts: unlearn what you already learnt

Escrito el 26/05/2010

A few months ago, the Council of Madrid made a big change in one of the main crossroads in the middle the city: Christopher Columbus estatue was placed (again) in the middle of Castellana Avenue (one of the longest and widest avenues of the city). To solve this new obstacle a brand new roundabout was placed. Nothing new: roundabouts are thesedays the state-of-the-art solution to solve any critical crossroad. Sometimes they succeed in solving the problem, sometimes not, as happened in this case. Let’s see:

The rounded shape of a roundabout is something we humans understand as a place where you can drive inside to take your right exit. It’s something natural and obvious. But in this particular case what they did was trying to force humans to learn a new behaviour: “hey, there’s no way to turn anywhere, you just can go straight ahead”. And, to force this new behaviour, the great urban architects had a brilliant idea: placing several horizontal no-turn signals on the road warning drivers to keep going.

You can imagine the rest of this history: everyday lots of cars try to turn despite the warnings signals, creating queues and traffic jam… An epic fail solution, basically. Why on earth did the built a rounded shape? Well, I guess that just because it’s beautiful and looks nice from an helicopter. But of course, non-funtional at all. And non-functional solutions when talking about urban traffic is something to take it pretty seriously.

This is Spain. This is Madrid… This is a fail.

Tema calentito: 7 comentarios en “Roundabouts: unlearn what you already learnt”

  1. QQ dice que:

    hehe maybe the reason of this change is to put some policemen close to the corner collecting bills…

    In our country things change only when disaster happens so if this weird choice leads to accidents, they will change it again.

    The post gave me reminiscences of this famous roundabout in Swindon-UK-, where I stayed for 3 months, check it out


  2. Tweets that mention índica. océanos de contenido » Blog Archive » Roundabouts: unlearn what you already learnt -- dice que:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Juan Leal and André Luís, joão machado. joão machado said: yap RT: @andr3: an epic example of a false affordance in the real world. /cc @jwd2a, via @ivogomes #uxlx […]

  3. seisdeagosto dice que:

    @QQ Magic roundabout :) What a classic! Thanks for your comment

  4. » On design patterns dice que:

    […] his last post, Juan Leal pointed out a real life example of the trade-offs of taking the risk to find new […]

  5. muchachino dice que:

    Otro fail muy típico de las calles madrileñas: cuando un guardia de tráfico se pone a dirigir en un cruce o similar que ya está regulado por un semáforo. Suelen reiterar con descoordinación lo mismo que indica el semáforo con la distracción que eso conlleva.
    El conductor en vez de tener que atender a 1 señal clara como la luz de color roja o verde, tiene que atender a 3: 2 visuales (semáforo y gestos del guarda) y una sonora: el molesto sonido del pito.
    Resultado: incertidumbre y atascazo mayor del que había

  6. Madrid en la mirada » Plaza de Colón: BIG FAIL dice que:

    […] recomiendo leer el artículo en Indica: Roundabouts: unlearn what you already learnt(está en inglés) […]

  7. Yon dice que:

    Everyday I go around there, somebody is trying to do a natural but wrong turn.

    I don’t realize why they changed this cross to make it worst.

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