Safety October 2019 Traffic Circles
Many bicyclists are not familiar with them, and are uncertain how to safely negotiate them.
Traffic circles/roundabouts are a type of roadway infrastructure we’re seeing more of in Florida.
A few potential reasons why roundabouts may be safer are:
- Low travel speeds.Traffic will naturally move slower through a roundabout than it will through a standard intersection. There’s a lower likelihood of getting into an accident when you’re driving at a lower speed.
- No traffic light to beat.With a traffic light, there is always the chance that drivers will try to “beat the light.” This isn’t an issue with a roundabout.
- One-way traffic.In a roundabout, traffic moves in only one direction. This virtually eliminates the chance for head-on and T-bone crashes.
It’s true that vehicles move slowly through a roundabout. However, the constant movement of cars means that traffic flows more quickly overall. Since there is less stop and go, everyone gets where they are going faster.
The cost of building a roundabout is comparable to installing a digital traffic signal. But, the upkeep and electrical costs are much less expensive. Over the life of the intersection, the cost savings can be huge. This is very important in areas where the budget for public works projects is lower than ever before.
The space that a roundabout takes up may be a bit larger than a traditional intersection. However, there will not be the large lineup that is often associated with a busy traffic signal. This can be very important in certain areas where there is no room for lengthy turn lanes.
As you can see, a roundabout can be highly beneficial for a number of reasons. Make sure you understand how the traffic flow works in any intersection you come across. Be prepared to react safely if you encounter a roundabout when you are behind the wheel.
Right of Way in a Roundabout
- When approaching a roundabout, reduce speed and be ready to yield to all other road users.
Yield to any traffic or cyclists currently in the roundabout and stop if needed
- Proceed only when there is a safe gap in traffic.
- If arriving at the roundabout at the same time as another road user, the road user on the right is to be given right of way.
- If you have right of way, be prepared to stop in case another road user is unaware of, or ignores, the rules.
Within the roundabout:
- Always drive counter-clockwise
- Drive slow and be alert for entering traffic
- Never pass another vehicle or stop within a roundabout
- Remember all entering traffic must yield to you
Signal your intentions when approaching, and when leaving, roundabout:
- If turning right, signal right on entering, and again in advance of leaving the roundabout.
- If going straight, do not signal on approaching the roundabout, but signal right as you approach your exit.
- If going left, give a left-turn signal on approaching the roundabout, then signal right as you approach your exit.
Important Tips for Cyclists:
Be assertive when approaching a traffic roundabout, and be ready to take your turn entering it if you have the right of way. Continue pedaling to show intention to proceed. However, be prepared to stop if a motorist (or another cyclist) is not aware of, or is disregarding, the right of way rule.
It is very important to approach the traffic roundabout in the center of your lane. This is necessary for two reasons:
1) to ensure that you are more visible to other traffic approaching the roundabout (i.e., not tucked out of sight against the curb) and,
2) to ensure that you do not encourage others to pass you on your left while you are in the roundabout.
- Some roundabouts have more than one lane within them.
- If you are exiting a roundabout at the first exit, enter and stay in the outer lane.
- If you are exiting a roundabout after the first exit, remain in the inner lane and exit from that lane.
- Always signal exits!!
Groups Riding in a Roundabout
Cyclists riding in a group should think of the group as one “vehicle” and should act accordingly — entering and leaving the roundabout as a group, yielding (as a group) to traffic that’s already in the roundabout. All the other rules still apply.
Each individual cyclist, however, is still responsible as a vehicle operator for being alert, making judgments about safety, and acting accordingly. So if you are in a group, you see a vehicle to the left about to enter the roundabout and you don’t feel comfortable that you can safely enter before that vehicle is in the roundabout, you need to signal to cyclists behind you that you are stopping.
If you’re toward the back of the group and a cyclist ahead stops, so should you. Don’t go whizzing past just because you think you can make it.
As with other circumstances involving cyclists and motor vehicle operators, traffic roundabout encounters are an opportunity to be courteous and safe … or be a jerk. Regardless of how many wheels you’re on, please just be courteous and safe.
- If you encounter an emergency vehicle outside the roundabout, pull over before entering.
- If you encounter an emergency vehicle inside the roundabout, exit as soon as possible, and then pull over if necessary.
- Never stop within a roundabout.