Mankato, MN is currently adding 2 roundabouts about a half mile from my house. They are on the same road, consecutive blocks (so, boom-boom).
I’ve been slightly obsessed with roundabouts lately. Not sure why. They seem like such an elegant solution to an often troublesome problem. However, they are not elegant at all if users do not know how to use them properly. I was once a passenger in a car that was being driven by a person who didn’t know how to drive through one. I was scared for my life when she came to a complete stop inside the circle. I guess I’d like for that to never happen again….
Here are some rules of thumb about driving through a roundabout:
- Slow down before you enter.
- Pick your lane. Generally speaking, if you want to leave the circle to the right, chose the right lane. If you want to leave the circle to the left, chose the left lane.
- You may have to stop before you enter the traffic circle.
- Find a gap in the traffic to enter the circle. The traffic in the circle has the right-of-way, yield to it.
- Never switch lanes inside the circle and never overcome another vehicle.
- If you chose your lane properly, you should be able to exit the circle heading in the right direction without having to cross over a lane or another vehicle.
- Use your signal to exit the circle.
The US Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration has published an entire technical summary of roundabouts that I thought was very interesting and fun to read.
Here are some good tidbits about roundabouts that you may not have considered:
- The geometry of the circle and the roads leading to into it are designed to be taken at slow speeds. It’s difficult to speed through without taking it on 2 wheels….
- Roundabouts are safer than traditional lighted and signed intersections. In fact, roundabouts have been shown to reduce total crashes by 35% and injury crashes by 76%. And think about this: since there are no T-bone crashes, “severe, incapacitating injuries and fatalities are rare, with one study reporting 89-percent reduction in these types of crashes and another reporting 100-percent reduction in fatalities.”
- Roundabouts are cheap! Since there is no hardware or electricity, the only costs are for landscaping maintenance.
- And the best thing is, most of the time you don’t have to stop! No idling makes it better for the environment.
And finally, for your viewing pleasure: