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Optimizing geometric design of roundabouts:

multi-objective analysis
Atif Mehmood and Said M. Easa

Abstract: The main objectives of roundabout design are to maximize traffic safety and operational efficiency. Traditionally,
because of the complexity of the system and the multiple objectives involved, the design process is iterative and time-
consuming. A minor change in the geometry can result in significant changes in the system performance (operation and
safety). This paper presents an optimization model that directly provides the roundabout geometry that optimizes two
objectives: design consistency and operational efficiency. Design consistency is represented by the mean difference in
operating speeds for various conflicting vehicle paths, and operational efficiency is represented by the average roundabout
delay. Vehicle paths (through, right, and left) and roundabout delay are modeled for all roundabout approaches. The input
geometric data to the model can be easily obtained from an aerial photograph of the selected site using a geographic
information systems (GIS) software. The system performance is optimized subject to geometric and traffic constraints.
The proposed model is applicable to single-lane roundabouts (urban and rural) with four legs intersecting at right angles.
Application of the model to an actual proposed roundabout site is presented. This proposed approach provides the
optimum solution directly and is also more efficient than the traditional iterative approach.
Key words: geometric design, roundabouts, horizontal curve, radius, optimization, consistency, capacity, traffic delay.

Résumé : Les objectifs principaux de la conception des carrefours giratoires sont de maximiser la sécurité de la
circulation et l’efficacité opérationnelle. Traditionnellement, en raison de la complexité du système et des multiples
objectifs impliqués, le processus de conception est itératif et demande beaucoup de temps. Un changement mineur dans
la géométrie peut engendrer des changements importants dans la performance du système (opération et sécurité). Cet
article présente un modèle d’optimisation qui fournit directement la géométrie des carrefours giratoires, lequel optimise
deux objectifs : l’uniformité de conception et l’efficacité opérationnelle. L’uniformité de conception est représentée
par la différence moyenne dans les vitesses maximales réalisables pour les divers chemins conflictuels des véhicules et
l’efficacité opérationnelle est représentée par le retard moyen dans le carrefour giratoire. Les chemins des véhicules (tout
droit, vers la droite et vers la gauche) et le retard dans le carrefour giratoire sont modélisés pour toutes les approches
de carrefours giratoires. Les intrants géométriques du modèle peuvent être facilement obtenus à partir de photographies
aériennes du site sélectionné en utilisant un logiciel SIG. Le rendement du système est optimisé selon la géométrie et les
contraintes du trafic. Le modèle proposé est applicable aux carrefours giratoires à une seule voie (urbains et ruraux) munis
de quatre embranchements se croisant à angle droit. L’application du modèle à un site proposé d’un carrefour giratoire est
présentée. Cette approche proposée non seulement fournit directement la solution optimale, mais est aussi plus efficace que
l’approche itérative traditionnelle.
Mots clés : conception géométrique, carrefours giratoires, courbe horizontale, rayon, optimisation, uniformité, capacité,
retard dans l’écoulement du trafic.
[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Introduction but their performance differs dramatically (Champa 2002).

Roundabouts are easily confused with traffic circles because
Roundabouts first evolved in the mid-1960s, when British they have the same general physical appearance. However, only
reengineered the traffic circle to overcome its limited capac- roundabouts operate with yield control at each entry to give pri-
ity and related safety problems. The difference between round- ority or right-of-way to circulating traffic. In early traffic circles,
abouts and traffic circles is not readily clear to the typical driver, priority was given to the entering vehicles, with yield control of
the circulating traffic, to facilitate high speed entries. Eventu-
Received 14 September 2004. Revision accepted 4 August 2005. ally, traffic circles resulted in higher collisions and congestion
Published on the NRC Research Press Web site at http://cjce.nrc.ca/ even at low traffic volumes. Modern roundabouts overcome the
on 6 January 2006. operational and safety problems of old traffic circles. This has
A. Mehmood and S.M. Easa.1 Department of Civil Engineering, resulted in increased installation of roundabouts in many Euro-
Ryerson University, Toronto, ON M5B 2K3, Canada. pean countries, Australia, and North America.
Minimizing the potential relative speeds at conflicting points
Written discussion of this article is welcomed and will be received and successive points will minimize multiple and single vehicle
by the Editor until 30 June 2006.
crash rate and severity, respectively (Robinson et al. 2000). The
Corresponding author (e-mail: seasa13@yahoo.com). safety of roundabout can be improved if its geometry allows
overall low and consistent speeds at each vehicle path (left,

Can. J. Civ. Eng. 33: 29–40 (2006) doi: 10.1139/L05-078 © 2006 NRC Canada
30 Can. J. Civ. Eng. Vol. 33, 2006

through, and right). The radii that driver negotiate along the Approximate design parameter ranges
vehicle path control vehicle speed. The conflicting points are For the approximation of ranges of design parameters, an
entering and circulating for each path and left-turn and through aerial photograph of the selected site is recommended. The
path conflict at the central island with right-turn path. Tradition- ranges of design parameters can be defined from the photo-
ally, each vehicle path is drawn by freehand on the proposed graph using a geographic information systems (GIS) software.
roundabout geometry. If the relative speeds at consecutive and However, design parameter ranges, collected from aerial pho-
conflicting points of each vehicle path are less than 20 km/h, tographs, should be verified by a physical survey of the site
the design is considered to be consistent (Robinson et al. 2000). to identify physical constraints such as utility poles, lines, and
Normally, an iterative process is performed to achieve consis- pipes. To define these ranges, a fixed roundabout centre is se-
tent roundabout geometry. lected and the centrelines are drawn. The maximum diameter
The entry capacity of a roundabout is estimated by either the- of the inscribed circle, Dmax , is then determined. The minimum
oretical or empirical approach. The theoretical (gap-acceptance) diameter of the inscribed circle, Dmin , depends on the design
approach, developed in Australia and Denmark, is based on as- vehicle (Robinson et al. 2000). Therefore, the design diameter
sumptions of driver behavior (Troutbeck 1993; Aagaard 1996). of the inscribed circle, D, is constrained by
Because of the complex relationships between gap-acceptance
parameters and roundabout geometry, gap-acceptance models [1] Dmin ≤ D ≤ Dmax
overestimate the entry capacity when model parameters are
measured in strict adherence to assumed driver behavior. In the The typical entry width for single-lane roundabouts ranges
empirical approach, regression analysis was used to develop from 4.3 to 4.9 m (Robinson et al. 2000). However, values higher
entry capacity models in England, Germany, France, and Den- or lower than this range can be used depending on site-specific
mark (Aagaard 1996; Kimber 1980). Studies have shown that conditions, design vehicle, and speed requirements for criti-
the empirical approach provides a more reasonable capacity cal vehicle paths. The maximum entry-width of each approach,
estimate and is more suitable for sensitivity analysis. Queue Emaxj , is determined from the photograph of the site. The min-
length and delay are important aspects of roundabout oper- imum entry-width, Eminj , required for single-lane roundabouts
ational performance. Queue length indicates the existence of is provided by the design guidelines (Robinson et al. 2000).
traffic blockage at the roundabout, while delay determines its Therefore, the design entry-width, Ej , is constrained by
level of service. Empirical and queuing models can be used to
estimate these measures (Harders 1989; CETUR 1988; Kimber [2] Eminj ≤ Ej ≤ Emaxj , j = 1, 2, 3, 4
and Hollis 1979).
Roundabout geometric design involves a trade-off between The flaring is likely to be introduced to improve the entry
design consistency and operational performance. To eliminate capacity of the roundabouts. In case of flaring, the approach
the existing iterative design process, an optimization model was half-width is gradually increased to the required maximum en-
developed in this research. The objective function of the model try width. Provision of flaring is optional in design but in prac-
maximizes design consistency and minimizes average round- tice it is provided to maximize the entry capacity. Generally, the
about delay. The model, which represents a new approach to flaring length should be a minimum of 25 and 40 m in urban and
roundabout design, requires an input traffic and geometric data, rural areas, respectively (Robinson et al. 2000). However, the
and directly provides the optimum design. The model was de- flaring length, Ij , can be constrained depending on the right-
veloped for single-lane roundabouts with four legs intersecting of-way. The design entry width and flaring length constraints
at right angles. are given by
The following sections present the data required for the opti- [3] Ej = Wj (for no flaring)
mization model, the modelling of the fastest vehicle paths, the
decision criteria, and other constraints. The optimization model
[4] Ej > Wj (for flaring)
and an example application are then presented, followed by the
concluding remarks. [5] Iminj ≤ Ij ≤ Imaxj
where Wj is the approach half-width for leg j (m) and Iminj ,
Imaxj are the minimum and maximum available flare lengths,
Establishing roundabout data respectively. Since the circulatory roadway width, C, should be
at least as wide as the maximum entry width, C1 , up to 120%
In a feasibility study for a specific location, the roundabout is of the maximum entry width (Robinson et al. 2000), then
categorized as single, double, or multi-lane roundabout, based
on the predicted traffic flows, road classification, and capacity [6] C1 = max{Ej }, j = 1, 2, 3, 4
requirement. Once the site and the category of roundabout are
finalized, the approximate design parameters and operational [7] C1 ≤ C ≤ 1.2C1
characteristics are defined for the detailed design process. The
optimization model developed for the detailed design of round- The central island radius, RCN , considered as a dependant
abouts requires three types of input data: (i) approximate design variable, is given by
parameter ranges, (ii) expected traffic data, and (iii) side friction
factors. [8] D = 2RCN + 2C

© 2006 NRC Canada

Mehmood and Easa 31

Table 1. Equations for vehicle path radii (Easa and Mehmood 2004).a

Radius type Equations for various vehicle path radii

Through path
Radius around central island Ltt = RCN + 1.5 M = Ltt − Lt Lt = (D/2) sin 30
RCN ≥ Lt HLRtc = (D/2) cos 30 HLRtc = Rtc sin tc /2
M = Rtc (1 − cos tc /2) HLRtc /M = (sin tc /2)/(1 − cos tc /2) Rtc = HLRtc sin tc /2
Entry and (or) exit path radius te = tc /2 AZ = (D/2) sin 30 − 1 DZ = AZ/tante
TLte = (DZ2 + AZ2 )1/2 HLRte = TLte cos te /2 Rte = HLRte /(sin te /2)
Right path
Radius within inscribed circle HLRrn = (D/8)(sin 30 − cos 30) RE = C/10
HLRrn /RE = (sin rn /2)/(1 − cos rn /2) Rrn = HLRrn /(sin rn /2)
Abs(re ) = 45 − rn /2 AZ = (D/2) sin 30 − 1
Entry and (or) exit path radius ZB = AZ/tanre TLre = (ZB2 + AZ2 )0.5
HLRre = TLre cosre /2 Rre =HLRre /(sinre /2)
Left path
Radius around central island RLc = RCN + 1.5 BC = RLc cos 45 − 1
CD = 0.6RCN CD = BC/ tan Le
Entry and (or) exit path radius HLRLe =TLLe cosLe /2 RLe =HLRLe /(sin Le /2)
a The notation of this table are defined in the list of symbols.

Expected traffic data Side friction factors

Future traffic for urban roundabouts can be predicted by his- The following side friction factors for light and heavy vehi-
torical trends or transportation demand modeling to ensure that cles, fsLV and fsHV , are needed for the estimation of operating
the proposed design has sufficient capacity and good level of speed (Akçelik 2003):
service in terms of minimum delay and queues. For rural round-
abouts, the designer should check the design requirements of [11] fsLV = 0.30 − 0.00084(MvLV )1/2
the agency with the justification of the site (Robinson et al.
2000). Once traffic demand in terms of turning movements for
the proposed roundabout is determined, the entry and circulat- [12] fsHV = 0.30 − 0.00084(MvHV )1/2
ing traffic flows are calculated. The conflicting-circulating flow where MvLV and MvHV are the average vehicle masses for light
rate for leg j at each approach, Qcj , is calculated by adding and heavy vehicles (kilograms), respectively. The average side
the number of vehicles from different movements that pass in friction factor for the combined vehicles is then calculated by
front of the adjacent upstream splitter island. Right turns are
not included in the circulating volumes because they exit be- [13] fs = (1 − PHV )fsLV + (PHV )fsHV
fore the next entrance. The entry capacity at leg j is affected by
the conflicting circulating flow rates (pce/h) given by where PHV is the percentage of heavy vehicles at roundabout
(in decimals).
[9] Qcj = QeUTj +1 + QeUTj +2 + QeLTj +2 + QeUTj +3
+ QeLTj +3 + QeTHj +3 , j = 1, 2, 3, 4 Formulating vehicle path radii
where Qcj is the conflicting circulating flow rate at leg j, and There are three critical vehicle paths (through, right, and left)
QeRTj , QeUTj , Q|rmeLT j , and QeTHj are the right-turn, U-turn, in the design of the roundabouts. The operating speed of a path
left-turn, and through traffic flows for leg j, respectively. When curve depends on the superelevation, side friction factor, and
the subscript of any variable is greater than 4, subtract 4 from it vehicle path radii along each fastest vehicle path. The radii of
to obtain the appropriate leg number. The entry flow rate (pce/h) each path were modelled based on the geometric parameters of
for leg j is simply the sum of the through, left-turn, right-turn, the roundabout (Easa and Mehmood 2004). For the fastest ve-
and U-turn vehicles at each leg hicle path, it is assumed that the moving vehicle is 2 m wide and
[10] Qej = QeRTj +QeUTj +QeLTj +QeTHj , j = 1, 2, 3, 4 will maintain a minimum clearance of 0.5 m from the roadway
centreline or concrete curb and flush with the painted edge line
For simplicity, the entry flow rate and conflicting-circulating of the splitter (QDMR 1998). Therefore, the centreline of the
flow rate for each leg are generalized. Since the conflicting moving vehicle path lies at a distance of 1.5 m from the con-
flow rate (pce/h) and entry flow rate (pce/h) are in passenger crete curb and 1.0 m from the painted edge line of the splitter.
car equivalents per hour, all types of traffic should be converted The equations presented in Table 1 for calculating the radii of
into passenger car equivalents, and then divided by the peak- the through, right, and left paths were developed based on the
hour factor to calculate the peak-hour passenger car equivalents principle of drawing the fastest vehicle paths at the roundabout.
per hour. Typical passenger car equivalents are 1.0 for cars, 1.5 The geometries of the curve around the central island and the
for single-unit trucks and (or) buses, 2.0 for trucks with trailers, entry and (or) exit curves are shown for the through path, as an
and 0.5 for bicycles and (or) motorcycles (Robinson et al. 2000). example, in Figs. 1 and 2.

© 2006 NRC Canada

32 Can. J. Civ. Eng. Vol. 33, 2006

Fig. 1. Geometry of path curve around the central island for Fig. 2. Geometry of entry and (or) exit path curves for through
through vehicle path (Easa and Mehmood 2004). vehicle path (Easa and Mehmood 2004).

For the fastest through path, the curve around the central
island depends on the central island radius, inscribed circle di-
ameter, circulatory roadway width, and entry widths. The entry
and (or) exit path curves for the through path have the same
characteristics because of the symmetrical roundabout geom- negotiation speed at each radius as follows (Austroads 1993;
etry. It should be noted that the model is developed for the Robinson et al. 2000):
single-lane roundabouts with four legs intersecting at right an-
gle. The deflection angle of the entry and (or) exist path curves [14] VP = 3.6[9.81(fs ± ei )Rp ]0.5
for the through path equals half the deflection angle of the curve
around the central island. The fastest right path consists of three where VP represents Vtc , VLc , Vrn , Vre , VLe , or Vte and RP rep-
curves turning in the same direction. The radius of vehicle path resents Rtc , RLc , Rrn , Rre , RLe , or Rte . The superelevations are
curve within the inscribed circle, Rrn , is modeled based on the user-defined values that depend on site conditions. For the safe
inscribed circle diameter, circulating width, central island ra- design of roundabouts, it is desired that speed along each vehicle
dius, and entry widths. The modeling of the each path radii path should not be more than the specified design speed of the
shows that the circulating width, entry widths, central island roundabout. Therefore, each vehicle path speed is constrained
radius, and inscribed circle diameter are interrelated. The mod- to be less than the specified design speed of the roundabout,
eled mid-ordinate (RE ) is based on the circulating width that Vmax .
depends on the central island radius and the inscribed circle [15] Vtc , VLc , Vrn , Vre , VLe , Vte ≤ Vmax
diameter. For the fastest left path, the radius around the central
island can be determined by adding 1.5 m to the central island If vehicle path radii and operating speeds at these curves are
radius (Robinson et al. 2000). known, the difference of speeds at consecutive and conflicting
points of each path can easily be determined (eqs. [16]–[24]).
Since the relative speed difference may be positive or negative,
Decision criteria two variables in each equation are used, one for positive and
The multi-objective function of the optimization model in- one for negative (e.g., M1 and M2 in eq. [16]).
cludes two measures: consistency measure and operational mea- [16] Vte − Vtc + M1 − M2 = 0
sure. The design consistency is measured by the mean difference
in operating speeds along and between conflicting travel paths. [17] Vrn − Vre + M3 − M4 = 0
The operational performance is measured by the average traffic
delay of all approaches of the roundabout. [18] VLe − VLc + M5 − M6 = 0
[19] Vtc − VLe + M7 − M8 = 0
Consistency measure: speed difference [20] Vtc − Vre + M9 − M10 = 0
The design consistency measure is based on the mean speed
difference along a vehicle path or between conflicting vehi- [21] VLc − Vre + M11 − M12 = 0
cle paths. The vehicle path radii are used to calculate the safe [22] VLc − Vte + M13 − M14 = 0

© 2006 NRC Canada

Mehmood and Easa 33

[23] Vrn − VLc + M15 − M16 = 0 The angle β of the triangle ABC (Fig. 3) and the entry angle
[24] Vrn − Vtc + M17 − M18 = 0 (Engl) are given by

For good design consistency, each relative difference should Ds

[30] Cosβ =
be less than the desired maximum allowable speed difference 2Rtc
(e.g., 20 km/h).
[31] Engl = 180 − 2β
[25] Mi ≤ MA, i = 1, 2, . . . , 18 Low-entry angles force drivers into merging positions in
where MA is the maximum allowable speed difference (e.g., which they must either look over their left shoulders or attempt
20 km/h). a true merge using their side mirrors. High entry angles pro-
The mean speed difference is given by duce excessive entry deflection and can lead to sharp breaking
at entries accompanied by rear-end collisions. If possible, the

18 entry angle shall be between 20◦ and 60◦ , where a 30◦ angle is
Mi considered to be the best for a given roundabout (Robinson et
[26] MD = al. 2000). A constraint was used in the optimization model to
n limit the entry angle
where n is the number of conflicting speeds, given by eqs. [16]– [32] Eaglmin ≤ Engl ≤ Eaglmax
[24] (n = 9).
Following the capacity analysis in the Great Britain (Kimber
Operational measure: average roundabout delay 1980), the entry capacity, Cej , for each approach is given by
The operational measure used in the optimization model is
the average roundabout delay, which depends on the average [33] Cej = kj (Fej − Fcj Qcj ), j = 1, 2, 3, 4
delay for each roundabout approach (entry) of the roundabout.
The delay of each entry, in turn, depends on the capacity of that where Fcj depends on the geometry of the circle, particularly,
entry. The capacity of each entry is the maximum rate at which its outside diameter (D) and is given by
vehicles can reasonably be expected to enter the roundabout [34] Fcj = 0.210dtj (1 + 0.2Xj )
from an approach during a given time period under given traffic
and roadway geometric conditions. where dtj and Xj are given by
Entry capacity D − 60
The empirical method for capacity analysis directly relates [35] dtj = 1 + 0.5 1 + exp
capacity to both traffic characteristics and roundabout geome-
try. A vital area in which the empirical method is better than Ej
gap-acceptance methods is in dealing with local widening (or [36] Xj = Wj +
1 + 2Sj
flaring). Therefore, the empirical method was used to determine
the entry capacity of the roundabout. According to the empiri- The sharpness of flare for leg j is given by
cal method, the most effective geometric parameters are the in-  
1.6 Ej − Wj
scribed circle diameter, the entry width, the approach half width, [37] Sj =
the entry radius, entry angle, and the sharpness of the flare. In- Ij
creasing the entry width using flaring can increase roundabout
capacity. The sharpness of flare is the rate at which the extra Then, Fej is given by
width is developed by providing effective entry flare length. [38] Fej = 303Xj
When the design parameters were drawn, the entry radius of
the roundabout (R) was found to be the average of the entry From eq. [33], kj depends on the entry angle and entry radius
radii of the three paths (through, right, and left), and is given as
Rre + Rte + RLe 1
[27] R= [39] kj = 1 − 0.00347(Engl − 30) − 0.978 − 0.05
3 R
The entry angle is the angle between the tangents drawn at Pedestrian effect on capacity
the intersection point of the entry and circulating paths. Two Heavy pedestrian flow significantly affects the entry capacity
through paths were drawn to determine the entry angle of the of each approach. The Federal Highway Administration sug-
roundabout. (Fig. 3). The distance between the centre points of gests in their design guide a reduction factor, P, for capacity
the through path curves around the central island (Rtc ) is given analysis (Robinson et al. 2000). This reduction factor can be
by calculated with known circulating flow (pcu/h) and pedestrian
√ flow (ped/h) at each approach. In the optimization model, the
[28] Ds = T 2 reduction factor (Pj ) is multiplied by the entry capacity of each
where T can be found as approach to obtain the effective entry capacity, Ceej ,

[29] T = Rtc − RCN − 1.5 [40] Ceej = Cej (Pj ), j = 1, 2, 3, 4

© 2006 NRC Canada

34 Can. J. Civ. Eng. Vol. 33, 2006

Fig. 3. Determination of entry angle of the roundabout.

Entry delay where TP is the analysis time period, 0.25 h for a 15 min pe-
The volume to capacity ratio, VCj , is defined as riod. The total delay (DeT ) for all vehicles entering at leg j is
calculated as
[41] VCj = [43] DeTj = Dej Qej , j = 1, 2, 3, 4
The average roundabout delay (DATI ) is then given by
The vehicles operating through the roundabout experience
two types of delay: geometric delay and control delay. Ge- 
ometric delay is the time that a vehicle takes to traverse the DeTj
j =1
roundabout from the entry to the exit point (Todd 1979). Con- [44] DATI =
trol delay is the time that a driver spends in queuing and then 
waiting for an acceptable gap in the circulating flow while at j =1
the front of the queue. The following equation (Akçelic and
Troutbeck 1991) is used for computing the control delay (De ) Multi-objective function
at each approach of roundabout. The objective function is defined as to minimize the mean of
the speed difference of conflicting and consecutive speeds along
[42] Dej = + 900TP each path of the roundabout (design consistency measure) and
Ceej the average roundabout delay (operational measure). That is,

 2 3600VCj /Ceej [45] Minimize Z = λMD + (1 − λ)DATI
× VCj − 1 + VCj − 1 + ,
450TP where λ is the weighting factor that ranges from 0 to 1. When λ
j = 1, 2, 3, 4 equals 0, the objective function minimizes the average round-
about delay. When λ equals 1, the objective function maximizes

© 2006 NRC Canada

Mehmood and Easa 35

design consistency. For values of λ between 0 and 1, the ob- to the entry path radii will complete the roundabout geometry
jective function minimizes both consistency and operational except the length of splitter. For pedestrian’s protection and to
measures according to the specified value of λ. alert drivers to the roundabout geometry, the minimum length
of splitter should be 15 m (Robinson et al. 2000).
Other constraints
The queue length at each leg may block traffic at the pre-
ceding intersection. Therefore, queue length is also an impor- Data preparation
tant operational performance check. The average queue length Roundabout design requires some preliminary study of site
at each leg of roundabout is useful for comparing roundabout selection and then collection of geometric and traffic data. For
performance with other forms of intersections. Therefore, the the application of the optimization model, geometric data ranges
average queue length is considered for planning purposes. For are estimated from an aerial photograph (Fig. 4) of a proposed
design purposes, the 95th percentile queue length, Lj , during site using a GIS software (ArcView). The proposed site is at
the peak-hour time period is used and is given by (Robinson et the intersection of Exford Drive and Bergen Road in Toronto.
al. 2000) The maximum limit of each parameter is estimated from the
image, while the minimum limit is defined based on the min-
Ceej imum requirement for the design of single-lane roundabout.
[46] Lj = (900TP )
3600 The maximum inscribed circle diameter of the selected site is

observed to be 40 m. The design vehicle dictates the selection
 2 3600VCj /Ceej
× VCj − 1 + 1 − VCj + , of the inscribed circle diameter to accommodate the turning
150TP path of the design vehicle. The selected site was in urban envi-
j = 1, 2, 3, 4 ronment. For urban single-lane roundabouts, the typical design
vehicle expected to use the facility is WB-15 (WB-50). The
Equation [47] only holds for a degree of saturation less than minimum inscribed circle diameter for this design vehicle is 30
0.85 (unsaturated conditions). If the queue blocks traffic at the m (Table 2).
preceding intersection, the designer can change roundabout ge- The maximum entry widths for approaches 1–4 were 5, 5.5,
ometry to reduce the degree of saturation. A constraint is used to 5, and 5.9 m, respectively. The circulating width depends on
ensure that Lj is less than the maximum expected queue length the entry width (eqs. [6] and [7]). The central island affects the
(Lmaxj ) based on site conditions deflection of through path of the vehicle. Its diameter entirely
depends on the inscribed circle diameter and the circulatory
[47] Lj ≤ Lmaxj , j = 1, 2, 3, 4 roadway width (eq. [8]). The model will decide the appropriate
central diameter for given circulating width and inscribed cir-
where Lmaxj is the expected maximum queue length for leg j. cle diameter. The maximum design speed of the selected site is
To ensure unsaturated conditions, a constraint is used to limit assumed to be 45 km/h. The roundabout design is assumed to
the degree of saturation (VCj ) to be less than the desired max- be safe, if the speed difference between conflicting and consec-
imum value, VCmax , utive path speeds is less than or equal to 20 km/h (Robinson et
al. 2000). Therefore, the speed difference is limited to 20 km/h.
[48] VCj ≤ VCmax Traffic data, like percentage of heavy vehicles and average ve-
hicle mass of the light and heavy vehicles, were input for the
calculation of side friction factor.
Optimization model For the operational performance analysis, the input data in-
The optimization model consists of eqs. [1] to [48] and the cluded the conflicting-circulating traffic flow rate, entry flow
equations given in Table 1. The model provides the optimum rate, and desired degree of saturation during peak hour for each
design values of the following decision variables: entry widths leg. As space is available for flaring, flaring is proposed in this
for each leg, central island diameter, inscribed circle diame- application to increase the entry width for capacity improve-
ter, circulating width, average entry radius of each entry, entry ment. The observed maximum available flaring length for all
angle, curve path radii for entry and (or) exit and around the legs 1–4 at the site was 40 m. The recommended minimum flar-
central island for each vehicle path (through, left, and right), ing length in urban areas is 25 m. The approach half width was
safe negotiation speed at each curve path radius of each vehi- 4.3 m for all approaches. Superelevations for entry and (or) exit
cle path, speed differences between consecutive and conflicting path curves and path curves around the central island for each
speeds, mean speed difference, degree of saturation, capacity, path are used as 0.02 and −0.02, respectively. The input data
delay, and queue length at each leg and average roundabout ranges for each leg are shown in Table 3.
delay of the entire roundabout. The optimization model can be
solved using optimization software, such as LINGO (Schrage Results and comparison
2003). The optimization model was run using equal weights of de-
The optimization model provides the average entry radius, sign consistency and operational performance (λ = 0.5). There-
but it is recommended that entry radius should be drawn paral- fore, the model decides a balanced optimum design for both
lel to entry path radii of each vehicle path using AutoCAD . decision criteria. The minimum mean speed difference and the
Finally, drawing the splitter radius of all approaches parallel average roundabout delay were found to be 10.07 km/h and 7 s,

© 2006 NRC Canada

36 Can. J. Civ. Eng. Vol. 33, 2006

Fig. 4. Input geometric data from satellite image for example application (Scale 1:250).

Table 2. Recommended inscribed circle diameter ranges (Robinson et al. 2000).b

Site category Typical design vehicle Inscribed circle diameter range (m)
Mini-roundabout Single-unit truck 13–25
Urban compact Single-unit truck and (or) bus 25–30
Urban single lane WB-15 (WB-50) 30–40
Urban double lane WB-15 (WB-50) 45–55
Rural single lane WB-20 (WB-67) 35–40
Rural double lane WB-20 (WB-67) 55–60
aAssumes 90◦ angles between entries and no more than four legs.

respectively. The results of the optimum geometric design and the end of flaring.
measures of performance are shown in Table 4. The vehicle speeds along the left, through, and right-turn
The radii of all vehicle paths (right, through, and left) are paths, at the entry and (or) exit points and around the central is-
shown in Fig. 5. The entry widths were found to be 5, 5.04, 5, land, produced by the model are 33, 23, 36, 29, 44, and 31 km/h,
and 5.04 m for approaches 1–4, respectively (based on the effec- respectively. It is clear that the speed difference at the conflicting
tive flaring length of each approach). The inner entry (splitter) points and at the consecutive points along each path is less than
curves and outer entry curves are drawn parallel to the entry 20 km/h. The optimum design parameters of the roundabout,
path curves. The exit width is taken as the larger value of the shown in Fig. 6, maximizes both objectives (design consistency
circulating width and the entry width at the upstream approach. and operational performance) with equal weights and satisfy the
The circulating width (5.04 m) is taken as the exit width for all specified geometric and traffic constraints.
legs. The flaring starts from the end point of the given approach The results of the multi-objective model and the consistency
half-width. The end of flaring is established as follows (Fig. 6): model (Easa and Mehmood 2004) were compared using the
(1) determine the point of intersection of the inner entry curve same roundabout data described previously. For the design con-
and the outer edge of the circulatory roadway, (2) at this point, sistency model, the capacities at approaches 1–4 were 1011,
draw a line perpendicular to the tangent to the inner entry curve, 1011, 953, and 1068 pce/h and the corresponding delays were
and (3) the intersection of this line and the outer entry curve is 15.5, 11.2, 11.4, and 7.6 s, respectively. In comparison, the

© 2006 NRC Canada

Mehmood and Easa 37

Fig. 5. Vehicle path radii of the roundabout produced by the optimization model.

Fig. 6. Optimum design parameters of the roundabout produced by the optimization model.

© 2006 NRC Canada

38 Can. J. Civ. Eng. Vol. 33, 2006

Table 3. Input traffic data for example application.

Leg No. Qej (pce/h) Qcj (pce/h) PFj (ped/h) Pj Lmaxj (vehicle) VCmaxj Ej (m) Range of Ij (m) Range of Eagl (◦ )
1 800 500 100 0.99 20 0.85 4.3–5.0 25–40 20–60
2 700 500 80 0.99 15 0.85 4.3–5.5 25–40 20–60
3 650 600 70 0.99 22 0.85 4.3–5.0 25–40 20–60
4 600 400 90 0.99 10 0.85 4.3–5.9 25–40 20–60
a For all legs, P
HV =5%, MvLV =1400 kg, MvHV =11 000 kg, Vmax = 45 km/h, MA = 20 km/h, and Wj = 4.3 m. For the roundabout, λ = 0.5 and
Dmin =30 m, and Dmax =40 m.

Table 4. Optimum operational performance measures and design parameters.

Approach No. Ej (m) Dej (s/vehicle) Ceej (pce/h) VCj Lj (vehicle)

1 5.00 8.40 1215 0.65 5.24
2 5.04 6.70 1225 0.57 3.77
3 5.00 7.07 1153 0.56 3.66
4 5.04 5.24 1283 0.46 2.55
a D = 40 m, R
CN = 14.95 m, and C = 5.04 m.

multi-objective model improves the roundabout operation by model provides details on queue length, average delay, and
increasing the capacity and reducing the delay at each approach capacity at each approach of the roundabout, correspond-
(Table 4). The consistency model only considers the design con- ing to the optimum design.
sistency criterion. The right and through paths are the most crit-
ical vehicle paths at the roundabout. The speeds along the right (3) Roundabout design is one of the most complicated de-
and through paths, at the entry and (or) exit points and around signs of highway intersections. Its design is a tradeoff be-
the central island, produced by the consistency model were 39, tween delay and safety. The optimization model developed
32, 25, and 25 km/h, respectively. The corresponding speeds in this research can be used to design roundabouts based
produced by the multi-objective model were higher (44, 36, 31, on these two criteria, with the option of assigning their
and 29 km/h) but satisfy the consistency constraints. The con- relative weights. The model achieves the two objectives
straints of maximum speed and allowable speed difference are simultaneously, while optimizing the geometric design of
obviously satisfied by the model. In the multi-objective model, the roundabout. In model application, equal weights for de-
the entry-widths Ej , inscribed circle diameter D, and central sign consistency and operational performance were used.
island radius RCN are increased, which result in greater path However, the user could conduct a sensitivity analysis to
radii and eventually higher speeds (Fig. 7). explore whether nonequal weights might be more appro-
(4) The effect of pedestrians on capacity was considered in
Concluding remarks the optimization model. The significant parameters that af-
This paper has presented a multi-objective optimization model fect capacity are entry width, entry radius, flare length, and
for the design the roundabouts, subject to geometric and traffic entry angle. The model determines the optimum parameter
constraints. The model involves two objectives: design consis- values that satisfy both decision criteria. The delay depends
tency and operational performance. The design consistency is on the degree of saturation and so does the average delay or
measured in terms of the mean speed difference of consecutive queue length. As the model minimizes the average round-
and conflicting speeds. The operational performance is repre- about delay, it will not only reduce the degree of saturation
sented by the average roundabout delay. Based on this study, but also balance indirectly the capacities of the four legs.
the following comments are offered: The model also considers the maximum allowable queue
length at each approach.
(1) The model requires as input the traffic and geometric data of
the selected site of roundabout that can be easily collected. (5) The application example has demonstrated that the opti-
The geometric data include entry width of each approach, mization model performed all its intended functions well
inscribed circle diameter, flaring length, and entry angle. and provided sound results. In comparison with the con-
The circulatory roadway width is constraint by the maxi- sistency model, the results show that the multi-objective
mum entry width decided by the model. The central island model not only improves the roundabout operation by in-
diameter depends on the circulatory roadway width and the creasing the capacity and reducing the delay at each ap-
inscribed circle diameter. proach but also satisfy the design consistency criteria.
(2) The output of the model includes the radii of each vehicle (6) Future extensions of the model include modelling of skewed,
path (left, through, and right). These radii are calculated double-lane, and multi-lane roundabouts. Geometric de-
based on the entry widths, inscribed circle diameter, cir- lays and environmental impacts can also be integrated into
culatory roadway width, and central island diameter. The the model to allow economic analysis of roundabouts and

© 2006 NRC Canada

Mehmood and Easa 39

Fig. 7. Comparison of multi-objective and design consistency analysis results.

Design Consistency

Design valu es (m)

30 Multi-objective Analysis
E1 E2 E3 E4 D RCN
Design parameters

other types of intersections. Other extensions may include Kimber, R. 1980. The traffic capacity of roundabouts. UK Transport
modeling of bicycle operation and sight distance. This and Road Research Laboratory, Crowthorne, Berkshire, England.
might require the development of new submodels to be in- Laboratory Report 942.
corporated in the optimization model. The presented model Kimber, R.M., and Hollis, E.M. 1979. Traffic queues and delays
along with future extensions would provide a complete at road junctions. UK Transport and Road Research Laboratory,
software package for the optimum design of roundabouts. Crowthorne, England. TRRL Report 909.
QDMR. 1998. Relationships between roundabout geometry and acci-
dent rates. Queensland Department of Main Roads, Queensland,
Acknowledgements Australia: Infrastructure Design of the Technology Division of
This research is financially supported by a discovery grant QDMR.
from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Robinson, B.W., Rodegerdts, L., Scarborough, W., Kittelson, W.,
of Canada. The authors are thankful to Kevin Tierney, City of Troutbeck, R., Brilon, W., Bondzio, L., Courage, K., Kyte, M.,
Toronto, for providing the aerial photograph of the selected site Mason, J., Flannery, A., Myers, E., Bunker, J., and Jacquemart,
used in the application. G. 2000. Roundabouts: an informational guide. Federal Highway
Administration, Washington, D.C. Report No. FHWA-RD-00-67.
Schrage, L. 2003. Optimization modeling with LINGO. 5th ed. LINDO
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40 Can. J. Civ. Eng. Vol. 33, 2006

M mid-ordinate of through path curve at the central island VLe operating speed at left-turn path curve at entry and (or)
(m) exit (km/h)
RCN design radius of the central island of roundabout (m) Vre operating speed at right-turn path curve at entry and (or)
RE mid-ordinate of right-turn path curve within inscribed exit (km/h)
circle (m) Vrn operating speed at right-turn path curve within inscribed
RLc radius of left-turn path curve at the central island (m) circle (km/h)
RLe radius of left-turn path curve at entry and (or) exit (m) Vtc operating speed of through path curve at the central is-
Rre radius of right-turn path curve at entry and (or) exit (m) land (km/h)
Rrn radius of right-turn path curve within inscribed circle Vte operating speed at of through path curve at entry and
(m) (or) exit (km/h)
Rtc radius of through path curve at the central island (m) Le deflection angle of left-turn path curve at entry and (or)
Rte radius of through path curve at entry and (or) exit (m) exit (◦ )
TLLe distance from PI to PC of left-turn path curve at entry re deflection angle of right-turn path curve at entry and (or)
and (or) exit (m) exit (◦ )
TLre distance from PI to PC of right-turn path curve at entry rn deflection angle of right-turn path curve within inscribed
and (or) exit (m) circle (◦ )
TLte distance from PI to PC of through path curve at entry tc deflection angle of through path curve at the central is-
and (or) exit (m) land (◦ )
VLc operating speed at left-turn path curve at the central is- te deflection angle of through path curve at entry and (or)
land (km/h) exit (◦ )

© 2006 NRC Canada