Ballarat residents often describe their city as the ‘roundabout capital of the world’ and their claims are not unfounded, with the latest count for roundabouts in the area exceeding 130.
City of Ballarat has confirmed it is responsible for 91 roundabouts in the municipality, while VicRoads has confirmed there are 42 roundabouts on Ballarat’s arterial road network.
That number will soon rise to 43 with the construction of 32-metre, $2 million behemoth on the dangerous Ballarat-Carngham Road and Haddon-Windemere Road intersection.
To put the figures in perspective, the City of Greater Bendigo has tallied 85 roundabouts in and around its shire, which includes small townships outside the city itself.
There are 70 roundabouts in the Greater Shepparton area, while there are 50 roundabouts in the smaller, but densely populated city of Warrnambool.
In 2003, The Courier reported that there were 93 roundabouts under jurisdiction of Ballarat City Council, as opposed to 61 in Bendigo and 16 for Shepparton (the city).
In 2006, former mayor David Vendy was quoted in The Courier as saying there were about 110 roundabouts in the Ballarat area.
Ballarat’s number continues to rise as expansion suburbs are rapidly built to the west, while the infrastructure itself is seen as a cheap, efficient method of promoting traffic flow and reducing hazards.
Both the City of Ballarat interim chief executive Frank Dixon and VicRoads regional director Ewan Nevett favour the circular junctions.
“Roundabouts are the optimum treatment to help reduce the incidence and severity of road trauma,” Mr Dixon said.
“They are also the optimum treatment to minimise the severity of crashes during cross-traffic collisions at intersections.
“A roundabout is the safest form of intersection and by its inherent nature acts as a traffic calming device, reducing speeds and minimising crash risk. Where a crash does occur, it will generally be a lower speed, oblique-angle crash with reduced severity,” Mr Nevett added.
While roundabouts are undoubtedly beneficial for relieving congestion from Ballarat roads, not all residents are happy with the sheer number of freeflowing intersections.
In December last year, Ballarat cyclists criticized the nature of some roundabouts, citing a lack of infrastructure as a danger hazard for non-drivers. They also condemned the excessive number of roundabouts.
One respondent said cyclists were often unable to avoid the various roundabouts in Ballarat due to the sheer number.