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View Poll Results: Your opinion of roundabouts.

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  • I prefer 4-way stop signs.

    8 20.00%
  • I prefer traffic lights.

    17 42.50%
  • I prefer tight-radius, traffic-calmed circles.

    5 12.50%
  • I love traffic circles.

    10 25.00%
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Thread: Roundabouts

  1. #1
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Roundabouts

    Has anyone tried cycling or motoring on this thing? What are typical traffic speeds there? How do pedestrians fare?

    http://www.swindonweb.com/life/lifemagi0.htm

    I find this passage particularly distressing:

    "Most accidents have involved cyclists and motorcyclists and now a cycle lane running right round the outside of the roundabout, with pelican crossings, should ensure that the Magic Roundabout becomes as safe as it is efficient."
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  2. #2
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    I have at least two in my commute everyday. The smaller, single lane ones are OK, the larger multi-lane ones can be a bit scary if you're not used to them. On the smaller ones I generally take the lane (I'm usually as fast as cars in those situations).

    On the multi-lane ones, the hardest thing to do is to make a right turn. The law in Australia gives the cyclist two options:

    1. Take the appropriate lane (even on a right turn) and basically mix it with the rest of the traffic (my preferred option, see my comment above).

    2. Do what they call a "hook turn" and use the outside lane all the way around until you get to your exit, giving way to everyone else exiting before you (this is where it can get scary).

    Overall I still prefer these to traffic lights as I generally get through them much faster. I'm about to vote for option 3 in the poll.
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  3. #3
    BikeForums Founder Joe Gardner's Avatar
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    Wow John, I read that page twice, and still cant figure out how that intersection works!

    I have a few single lane roundabouts i ride weekly, i love them, can get much more respect taking the lane at one of these then any light or 4 way stop.

    [edit] Attached image was taken from link in John E's post above [/edit]
    Last edited by Joe Gardner; 09-19-02 at 01:57 PM.

  4. #4
    RAGBRAI. Need I say more? Steele-Bike's Avatar
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    Wow, Joe, that one looks a bit confusing!

    I know of a lady who was side-swiped on a roundabout and ended up with a broken elbow. She is a University professor who, for years, commuted to campus, but now a couple of years later, her elbow still bothers her enough that she no longer commutes by bike. It's a shame.

  5. #5
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    There is only on magic rounderbout in the UK. It is a series of mini rounderbouts. Mini ones can be a pain, since cars often dont slow down, the medium sized ones are OK, but the larger ones are the wrong scale for cyclists.
    How dangerous they are really depends on the speed. Fast ones at the intersection with fast roads can be horrible, esp if the junctions have wide sweeping curves, but in town I dont mind the larger ones. Getting in lane for an offside turn can be difficult if the approach speed is fast. The best time to use them is in rush hour, when the rounderbout is full and going at 10mph.

  6. #6
    We drive on the left. Dutchy's Avatar
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    I hate round-abouts! I got collected on one last year when a driver failed to give way, very painful.

    The trouble with these things is that they encourage drivers to drive through without slowing down enough to get a good look at the traffic approaching. Probably invented by the same person that invented drive-thru restaurants, why stop when you can keep moving!

    Where I used to live there was a round-about where 5 roads intersected. Crashes happened almost daily. I also saw drivers cut straight across both lanes (so they wouldn't have to swerve for the corners) at 60kph.

    I would like to see speed humps placed ~1 car length from the intersection, so cars actually have to slow down before proceeding through, this could also be done for stop signs. We already have roads with speed humps here, and they do make people slow down.

    Avoid round-abouts, they are dangerous.

    CHEERS.


    Mark
    Last edited by Dutchy; 09-19-02 at 09:04 PM.
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  7. #7
    The Flying Scot chewa's Avatar
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    I don't mind roundabouts, but many cyclist(and drivers) don't position themselves properly on them. If turning right, you should be tight to the centre of the roundabout until the exit before yours then move over left (UK). Some cyclists don't and get caught by overtaking cars and "Left hooked".
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  8. #8
    Donating member Richard D's Avatar
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    Originally posted by chewa
    I don't mind roundabouts, but many cyclist(and drivers) don't position themselves properly on them. If turning right, you should be tight to the centre of the roundabout until the exit before yours then move over left (UK). Some cyclists don't and get caught by overtaking cars and "Left hooked".
    Perfect advice, and if they're joined by dual carriageway (two-lanes each direction) watch out for vehicles trying to overtake you as you exit.
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  9. #9
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    How do you make a right turn off of a roundabout in Australia?


  10. #10
    Skin-Pounder Bikes-N-Drums's Avatar
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    I've never seen anything like that where I'm at. Although we have 5,6,7-way intersections, They're usually controlled by regular traffic lights and a lane striping system that looks as if it was initiated by a bunch of guys on acid. Those roundabouts looks like a giant asphalt death flower.
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  11. #11
    It didn't hurt that much. Ouch !'s Avatar
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    I also have to agree with Chewa.

    I also find the faster and more assertive you are the better, the last thing drivers want on a roundabout is somebody going slow and being undecisive.
    Life can be Beautiful, you just have to look.

  12. #12
    We drive on the left. Dutchy's Avatar
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    I also find the faster and more assertive you are the better, the last thing drivers want on a roundabout is somebody going slow and being undecisive.
    I agee, drivers want us out of the way so they can get "somewhere" faster. The only problem with going fast is that a lot of cars will pull in front (not giving way) assuming that the cyclist is going slow and that they can get across before we enter.

    This is what happened to me. I was travelling at 30kph and some SOB came from my left and "WAMMO" I am down for the count.

    CHEERS

    Mark
    I'd rather be riding.

  13. #13
    JRA
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    That magic roundabout (or multi-mini roundabout) is very interesting. At first that picture had me totally confused, and then a light bulb went on. That thing is really quite ingenious - a driver can go 'the wrong way' - rathing than being just a one-way circle (like a one-way street) - traffic goes both ways.

    That thing probably does work pretty well. It's really 7 circles in one. I can't imagine you could go too fast on the smaller ones, because the radius looks so small. But what would really worry me would be drivers encountering this for the first time and not knowing which way to go.

    BTW, what the heck is a pelican crossing?
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  14. #14
    We drive on the left. Dutchy's Avatar
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    BTW, what the heck is a pelican crossing?
    Well, a pedestrian crossing is for pedestrians and a pelican crossing is for.....peilcans. Sorry couldn't resist. It must be Friday.

    CHEERS.

    Mark

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  15. #15
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    well i am completely unfamiliar with the huge roundabout in John/Joes's picutre...

    but, being an American, particularly having grown up in Texas, i had only seen a few roundabouts in my whole life before i moved to Oregon in '97 -- i can't remember but i think there are only a few in the whole state of Texas. Then Oregon has a few traffic circles, but almost no real roundabout - they are more small-radius for traffic calming for small neighborhood/residential streets. and now i live in Europe where the roundabout is often more common than the traffic light...

    i find all but the largest to be pretty good for cycling. it's especially good in traffic b/c on a bike you can safely ride through/around the cars stuck in traffic in the roundabout w/o having to stop and/or run any traffic lights. about the only times i have had problems:
    * in the really large (usually 3+lane) roundabouts it can get a little scary, but if you just stay outside it's usually OK.
    * when there are special bike lanes (in Germany you are legally required to use the bike lane if it's officially marker although i sometimes don't i don't think it's safe) -- sometimes the bike lane just crosses the radial incoming lanes a few meters before the circle and of course drivers are concentrating on the cars approaching IN the circle, not bikes a few meter before, so i find it dangerous - i usually break out of the bike lane into the car lanes even if not really "legal"
    * occaisonally the circles are too large and cars don't have to slow down and/or cut the corners in order to "save time"... as mentioned above, this causes problems

    All in all, both for the rare times when i drive as well as when on the bike, i almost always prefer roundabouts or traffic circles to stoplights and/or stopsigns... it's a more natural control device and requires all users to slow down and pay attention at intersections (for a traffic light green means "don't look, just step on the gas and GO" for most drivers)

    there have also been a number of studies that show that roundabouts are usually more efficient in overall traffic flow:
    * in low volume you almost never have to wait (waiting for that red light at 2am sticks)
    * then in high volume not having to clear the intersection between light changes saves some time and provides a greater overall throughput than a traffic light (bad desings do exist)
    * as intersections are the highest collision risk, both traffic-light-controlled intersections and roundabouts are "unsafe" but from the studies i have seen, roundabouts tend to have lower accident rates (NOTE: this is often not true in the US b/c most drivers are unfamiliar with roundabouts and don't know the correct behavior)
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  16. #16
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Dutchy
    ... The only problem with going fast is that a lot of cars will pull in front (not giving way) assuming that the cyclist is going slow and that they can get across before we enter.

    This is what happened to me. I was travelling at 30kph and some SOB came from my left and "WAMMO" I am down for the count.
    Who has the right-of-way in Australia, Mark -- the vehicle already in the circle or the vehicle entering it? Only the former makes any sense to me, but apparently at least one New England state (New Hampshire?) gives the right-of-way to ENTERING vehicles, which sounds like a great recipe for gridlock, etc.

    My personal position on traffic circles is that small, slow, simple ones probably are safer than stop signs and even traffic signals, but high-speed, large-radius, multilane constructs seem very anti-pedestrian and anti-cyclist. Swindon's new outer circle for bicyclsts sounds as though we will have to wait for pelican crossings (pedestrian traffic signals, if I am translating correctly from British to American English), while motorists buzz through without stopping. I am not convinced the large "magic" contraflow multilane inner circle enhances safety for anyone!
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  17. #17
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    Who has the right-of-way in Australia, Mark -- the vehicle already in the circle or the vehicle entering it? Only the former makes any sense to me, but apparently at least one New England state (New Hampshire?) gives the right-of-way to ENTERING vehicles, which sounds like a great recipe for gridlock, etc.
    right of way to ENTERING vehicles!! that sounds insanely stupid to me!!! so then entering vehicles don't have to slow down and can enter at any speed they wish since they have right of way?? sounds really scary?

    although i do have to ask, WHY ARE SO MANY AMERICANS SO "AFRAID" OF TRAFFIC CIRCLES?
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  18. #18
    Gravity Is Yer Friend dirtbikedude's Avatar
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    During my time in Denmark, I found the roundabouts to be much better then trafic lights especially when used properly. One thing that helped out though, the roads there are bicycle friendly and it I felt very safe riding on them, even on the highways.
    Slainte

  19. #19
    It's in my blood Pete Clark's Avatar
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    Roundabouts are rare as can be where I live.

    But we have plenty of four-way stops, which are challenging enough for most folks. Seems as if people are never sure who got there first, or who actually stopped first, if anyone. It's more like a game of fake-out: first, you act like you are going to stop last, letting the other person go first (after they stop, of course.) Then, while they stop, you go (without actually stopping, only slowing as if to stop.) See?

    Of course, the one who never even slows is the champion of the four-way stop (as long as he makes it though without hitting anyone.)
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  20. #20
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    What the heck is a roundabout?

    Thank goodness we don't have them here in SJ.

  21. #21
    Can't ride enough! Da Tinker's Avatar
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    Roundabouts can be great for 'calming' traffic. Newer subdivisions with enlightened designers are starting to use them more. Problem is, many Americans have not a clue what to do with one. My old office overlooked a roundabout in an industrial park. I saw drivers, even CDL drivers of tractor-trailer rigs, enter an go the wrong way on a regular basis.

    They are so effective at slowing traffic in residential areas that firemen and EMTs often protest them. They claim that they have to slow down too much when responding to calls. You can blow by a stop sign, or skim a speed bump, but you gotta slow for a circle.

    Yankees often call them rotaries.

    And one other thing. In the past, if a CDL holder got an off duty ticket, it did not affect his CDL. The were drivers who had their operators license suspended for, say, DWI, who could still legally drive the big rigs. No more. Two serious violations, on or off duty, in three years gets a 60 day suspension, three or more a 120 day suspension, with no hope of getting a hardship license.

    Don't shrug off bad drivers, persecute them with every legal means at hand. You may be able to remove them from your roads.
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  22. #22
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Da Tinker
    Don't shrug off bad drivers, persecute them with every legal means at hand. You may be able to remove them from your roads.
    Let's prosecute bad drivers first. If that doesn't work, then let's persecute them.
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  23. #23
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Originally posted by MisterJ
    How do you make a right turn off of a roundabout in Australia?
    See my first post in this thread for the answer to that one.
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  24. #24
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Originally posted by John E


    Who has the right-of-way in Australia, Mark -- the vehicle already in the circle or the vehicle entering it?
    In this country it's the vehicle already in the circle that has the right of way. However, the problem has always been that a lot of people simply don't follow the road rules in this country (as was apparently the case in Dutchy's incident), which makes it all rather pointless. I should add that around here that situation is not merely confined to roundabouts either.
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  25. #25
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    After looking at that photo Joe posted, I think my brain's going to explode! Doubly so when I try to adjust to a drive-on-the-left mode of thought!

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