Love it or hate it, Fredericton’s Victoria Circle is getting some appreciation from across the pond.
After intense deliberation at a local pub, the six committee members of the United Kingdom’s Roundabout Appreciation Society have designated the downtown traffic circle “International Roundabout of the Year.”
“It’s the esthetic quality that we go for, as opposed to how the roundabout operates, so it’s how it looks really,” said Kevin Beresford, the society’s president, speaking on Information Morning Fredericton.
Beresford said roundabouts serve as a focal point, with an opportunity to put a windmill, a pond, a plane or, as in the case of the Victoria Circle, a piece of art in the middle of it.
“You’ve got that blue circle sculpture that’s all lit up in the nighttime and that symbolizes the St. John River,” he said.
“And that’s, that’s my whole point. That’s the case in point. Anything can go on the roundabout, and it generally reflects what’s going on in that area whether it’s a local business or local artistry.”
The society’s origins go back to 2003, when Beresford, who owns a small printing company in Redditch, U.K., decided to publish a unique calendar to give to his customers.
With few remarkable landmarks in the town, Beresford decided to feature a Redditch roundabout for each page of the calendar.
Little did he know he’d end up selling 20,000 copies to roundabout lovers the world over.
“And it’s at that time when I began to take a little bit of interest in roundabouts,” Beresford said.
“And the roundabouts of Redditch spawned the Best of British Roundabouts and that spawned Roundabouts of the World, which is our most ambitious project so far.”
Aside from appreciating what roundabouts have to offer in the looks department, Beresford said his appreciation extends to how they generally work.
“You could put that piece of artwork right bang in the middle and the traffic goes round and round it rather than just flowing past it, and that’s the whole beauty of a roundabout is it is a lot safer than traffic lights. They’re a lot greener.
“There’s no green traffic lights, only red — that’s what we like to say. And they’re more efficient, so it’s much more efficient than traffic lights.”
A boost to city’s pride
With its opening in 2019, the Victoria Circle joined a growing list of roundabouts in Fredericton.
Since then, the roundabout has helped reduce traffic jams and accidents, and has come with a piece of public art worth marvelling at, said Coun. Bruce Grandy, chair of the City of Fredericton’s mobility committee.
And now it’s given the city something to brag about.
“I think it’s great,” Grandy said of the title.
“It reflects, you know, our investments that we’re making in roundabouts in the city. And I think one of the major things about this roundabout is, you know, it’s sort of our major western entrance to the city and as well, it feeds one of our major arteries that goes up the hill — Smythe Street.”
With the Victoria Circle named “International Roundabout of the Year,” Beresford said he hopes people are inspired to pause and admire it for its art and its function.
“If I can get them to look at that sculpture and for them to appreciate that they’ve got a lovely roundabout with it, I’ve done my job,” he said.