The city government of Bend hasn't had many good ideas in the last 25 years, but I can think of at least one: traffic roundabouts.
Roundabouts -- otherwise known as "traffic circles" -- are far superior to four-way stops or traffic signals in terms of both safety and efficiency. They reduce the amount of stop-and-go needed to get through an intersection (thereby improving gas mileage and cutting pollution) and they virtually eliminate the often deadly "T-bone" crashes that happen when people run stop signs or red lights.
Yet when the city started putting in roundabouts about 12 years ago, the local citizenry was close to panic. Everybody was all, like, "Mah GAWD, Ethel, the cars will be goin' around in circles! We're all a-gonna DIE!"
There are now 29 roundabouts in town, making Bend one of the top five roundabout cities in the United States. Most of them are (naturally) on the ever-so-fashionable west side. The city is trying to sell the voters on a bond issue that would pay for as many as five more. A couple of them would be placed on Reed Market Road, which is one of the few routes from the west side to the east side and experiences Southern California-style congestion during rush hours.
Although anti-roundabout sentiment isn't as prevalent as it was a decade ago, it's still out there. For instance, here's what one letter to the editor in the Source Weekly, our local alternative paper, had to say about building more roundabouts:
"Did one of the [city] planners take a course in college entitled 'Traffic Circles 301' that he, or she, really, really liked? ... [D]o we really want to buy three more traffic circles at $3 million each? ... Enough with the traffic circles already!"
Ah, well. Bendoids, I've observed, do not adapt well to new ideas. Many of them are still trying to figure out what a "Yield" sign means and how to merge into traffic on a freeway.
*No, I did not make that word up. It means an irrational fear of circles.