Roundabouts: unlearn what you already learnt

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.