New UMass Transportation Center Video Series Explains the Difference Between a Roundabout and a Rotary

roundabout photo credit: Ryan Wicks via drone
roundabout photo credit: Ryan Wicks via drone

AMHERST, Mass. – The UMass Transportation Center (UMTC) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has launched a series of informational videos that explore a range of issues that include the difference between a traffic roundabout and a rotary, how speed limits are set and the value of winter storm preparation for snow removal on roadways.

The “Transportation Take-Away” series is made up of short, five- to 10-minute videos released monthly and hosted by staff from the Transportation Center. Michael A. Knodler, center director and professor of civil and environmental engineering, hosts the first episode about the difference between a roundabout and a rotary.

In the video, posted on the Transportation Center website, Knodler explains that there are key differences between the two types of familiar circular roadways. Rotaries are much larger and allow traffic to move at a higher rate of speed, while roundabouts are smaller in diameter with traffic moving much slower. He also talks about the safety implications of round roadways compared to intersections with traffic lights.

“We are excited to launch the ‘Transportation Take-Away’ as a means for conveying information on topics that are often times of interest to the public,” Knodler says. “There is arguably no better example than the roundabout vs. rotary video. For those of us having grown up in New England, we are familiar with the traditional rotary. I spend time both in and out of the classroom discussing how the new modern roundabout is not the same as the traditional rotary. The increased benefits of roundabouts, such as improved safety, pedestrian and bicycle accommodation, and design flexibility make it likely they will continue to be installed throughout the U.S.”

Other issues that will be looked at include the relationship between marijuana use and safe driving, how drones are being used to improve roadway designs and transportation safety; and how speed limits are set and the role state and local officials play in the process.

Another early winter video is dedicated to discussing how and why state and local road crews prepare for snow removal and the various ways and means at their disposal for preventing slippery and dangerous roadways.

The UMTC is responsible for promoting transportation research, education and training throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The center's operations are supported by university funds and through contracts with state and federal agencies as well as with industry partnerships.