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Old 09-04-09, 01:47 PM   #1
buffalo_cody
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Roundabouts?

How do you negotiate roundabouts?

I've only been commuting for about a week, and there's three roundabouts on my route. My route also has a bike lane that ends at the roundabouts, so I've been taking the lane and going through like I was a car. Is this what I should be doing? I haven't had any trouble except for today where I had a car honk, and try to pass on the right as I was exiting the roundabout....

I should also add that I'm in the U.S, where roundabouts aren't very popular, and I'm not sure most motorists know how to use them.
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Old 09-04-09, 02:04 PM   #2
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Use them just as you would if you were driving a vehicle. The arse that honked is an idiot.
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Old 09-04-09, 02:07 PM   #3
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Sounds like you're doing it right.

I generally take the lane in roundabouts. The ones where I live generally have a small enough radius that cars can't go much above bicycle speed in the roundabout anyway.

Anytime a driver honks, it means (s)he saw you. As for the pass on the right... well, they're still working on the cure for stupid.
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Old 09-04-09, 02:10 PM   #4
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You did it right, you are a vehicle, all the same rules and apply. Which sadly means most drivers have no clue as to their proper use.
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Old 09-04-09, 02:18 PM   #5
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Use them just as you would if you were driving a vehicle. The arse that honked is an idiot.
Yup.

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Anytime a driver honks, it means (s)he saw you. As for the pass on the right... well, they're still working on the cure for stupid.
Double-Yup.
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Old 09-04-09, 02:41 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by buffalo_cody View Post
I should also add that I'm in the U.S, where roundabouts aren't very popular, and I'm not sure most motorists know how to use them.
I definitely know how to use them better than most, and I just go right through in traffic even though the bike lane does end at a ramp to the sidewalk. Not required to use bike lanes just because they're available.
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Old 09-04-09, 02:52 PM   #7
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Use them just as you would if you were driving a vehicle. The arse that honked is an idiot.
The rule here is "The driver who tries to make eye contact, loses."
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Old 09-04-09, 03:53 PM   #8
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Not required to use bike lanes just because they're available.
That is definitely not true in some municipalities. Double-check local code.
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Old 09-04-09, 05:14 PM   #9
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I have one on my homeward commute. Mine has 2 traffic lanes and the bike lane all merging into one lane right at the entrance (really bad design) so I take #2 lane early and pace traffic so I can easily merge to #1 when appropriate.
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Old 09-04-09, 05:26 PM   #10
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In my experience roundabouts work if people know what they are doing and lanes and directions are clearly marked. It took my city to long to figure that out. It sounds like you did what was right and did so safely.
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Old 09-04-09, 05:28 PM   #11
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Depends on the traffic, if there are very few cars at the roundabout, I'll ride through it, if I left late and theres a little bit of traffic, I take the pedestrian walks just to be safe (5 more minutes on my commute is worth my life)
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Old 09-04-09, 06:21 PM   #12
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I agree with the general sentiment here, but would add, get a mirror.
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Old 09-04-09, 07:35 PM   #13
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I have a small one on my commute. I move toward the center of the lane as I approach it to hold off the cars, look to the left and enter if no one's coming (I also take a quick look to the right in case the cars at the next entrance try to run me over). I tend to hug more toward the center of the circle in case a car tries to enter and cut me off. I always point toward the exit I'm taking to signal to the incoming cars which way I'm leaving. (This has saved my @ss more than once )

It's amazing how many cars in the US don't know how to use a roundabout, and come to a complete stop before they enter, even tho no one's coming.

Last edited by sesmith; 09-04-09 at 07:40 PM.
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Old 09-04-09, 07:57 PM   #14
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Direct from AZDOT: (spelling too, but not exactly the formatting )

YOU NEVER MERGE . . . ALL TRAFFIC APPROOACHING A ROUNDABOUT MUST YIELD.
Enter into a traffic lane before bike lane ends.
Ride close to the lane’s middle to prevent vehicles from passing and cutting the bicyclist off.
Enter the roundabout after yielding to vehicles already circulating.
Circulate being careful to watch for vehicles waiting to enter.
Exit the roundabout as a car does.

Of course, if a bicyclist just wants to cross to the other side, they can “walk” their bike and use the crossroads as a pedestrian.

Like this: [click me]

...and finally the pdf: here

Last edited by noisebeam; 09-04-09 at 08:08 PM.
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Old 09-05-09, 06:25 AM   #15
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Carefully... quite a few poorly designed small roundabouts have been installed in the Seattle area recently. Drivers who were use to a straight shot down the road - just ignore them, build up speed and blow thru them.
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Old 09-05-09, 09:53 AM   #16
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I agree with everything said already. I just wanted to add a couple things to watch out for. We have a ton of them on designated bike routes here in Vancouver. I think they're a great way to keep traffic down, but there's also some potential for colisions.
-Some drivers, when turning left, will go the opposite direction through a roundabout. Usually a driver stupid enough to do this, is also stupid enough to not pay attention for cyclists.
-On a flat or downhill route, it's easy to merge with the cars because a cyclist can usually navigate the roundabout much faster than a car. But when you have to ride through one uphill, that's often where I hear the honking and see cars trying to pass dangerously.
-Watch out for OTHER CYCLISTS. Especially at night, cyclists aren't always looking for other cyclists, and they're much harder to see than an approaching car. Especially here where the hipsters don't use lights.
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Old 09-05-09, 11:51 AM   #17
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Quote:
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I agree with the general sentiment here, but would add, get a mirror.
For a time I used to wear left and right eyeglass-mounted mirrors and I found them particularly useful in rotaries (as roundabouts are known here in Boston.)

My general understanding of the traffic rules is that vehicles in the rotary have the right of way, though lbb's rule might take precedence:

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The rule here is "The driver who tries to make eye contact, loses."
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Old 09-05-09, 12:43 PM   #18
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How do you negotiate roundabouts? ....
Very carefully, especially if they are two lane, first intersection after motor vehicles come off a high-speed road, or not well designed.

What is well or not well designed? Several studies suggest that some roundabout types can increase injury and fatality rates for bicyclists. The riskier roundabouts tended to be ones in built-up areas that replaced intersections and ones with multiple lanes.

Smaller diameter single lane mini-roundabouts may be safer for cyclists. One study in the UK found that signalized roundabouts were probably better. Some features that may increase cyclist safety at roundabouts are:
arms that are perpendicular, rather than tangential to the roundabout
single lane entries and exits (widths 4-5m).
minimal flare on entry
inscribed circle diameter 25-35m
circulatory carriageway 5-7m
A well illustrated presentation on cycling through roundabouts is Bicyclists at Roundabouts: State of the Practice LINK. This may be helpful as the last paper below comments "... Underestimation of risk and lack of knowledge about relevant traffic rules may contribute to car–bicycle collisions in roundabouts. Cyclists prefer road designs with a clear regulation of road user behaviour. A need to increase knowledge about traffic rules regulating road user behaviour in roundabouts is identified."

Some studies for those who want to read more:

Bicycle and Pedestrian Considerations at Roundabouts, Florida Department of Transportation
Summary of Final Report, WPI# 0510824 September 2000


Safety effects of roundabouts in Flanders: signal type, speed limits and vulnerable road users.
Accid Anal Prev. 2007 May;39(3):591-9. Epub 2006 Nov 21.
Abstract LINK

The effect of roundabout design features on cyclist accident rate
Accident Analysis & Prevention, Volume 39, Issue 2, March 2007, Pages 300-307
Abstract LINK

The effects of roundabouts on traffic safety for bicyclists: An observational study
Accident Analysis & Prevention, In Press, Corrected Proof,
Abstract (in press) LINK

Car Drivers' Adjustments to Cyclists at Roundabouts. "The most frequent bicycle accident type at roundabouts has been shown to be between the entering driver and the circulating cyclist. ..."

Cyclists’ perception of risk in roundabouts. "Converting an intersection into a roundabout improves motor vehicle safety, but a similar safety effect is not found for car–bicycle collisions"
Accident Analysis & Prevention Volume 40, Issue 3, May 2008, Pages 1055-1062. LINK
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Old 09-05-09, 03:18 PM   #19
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Please bear in mind that the CTC (UK) found that roundabouts were about 100 times more dangerous for cyclists than signalled intersections.

We've had them for years and still a pretty high percentage of drivers can't use them properly, if there is more than one lane and especially if there are 3 lanes - even when there are on-road and gantry signs stating lane destinations.
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Old 09-05-09, 07:36 PM   #20
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I use them like I am driving a car but I worry about some of the larger ones they are going to build here. In order to get to work or just ride head across the arterial road nearby I will have to pass through a three lane roundabout that will be built in the next year or so. I am not looking forward to it. (The city is also ripping out one of my favourite quick routes out of the city to suit the needs of a developer throwing up another stupid subdivision). I have badgered city and regional council about it but they seem to think roundabouts are for nearly every situation. Neither level of government seem all that concerned about cyclists or pedestrians which is strange considering the newly built high school in the area.
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Old 09-05-09, 07:52 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Jim-in-Kirkland View Post
Carefully... quite a few poorly designed small roundabouts have been installed in the Seattle area recently. Drivers who were use to a straight shot down the road - just ignore them, build up speed and blow thru them.
like this
http://www.azdot.gov/CCPartnerships/...ts/L202_11.asp
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Old 09-05-09, 07:56 PM   #22
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Also:
"
“WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN "OLD" TRAFFIC CIRCLE AND A MODERN ROUNDABOUT?”
Modern roundabouts are quite different from those big, old, high speed traffic circles built years ago in Washington, DC and other eastern cities as well as Paris and London. Designed for high speed entry and multi-lane weaving, these traffic circles generally suffered high crash rates and operational problems causing many to fall out of favor in the USA during the 1950s and 1960s.

Though roundabouts had been used in Great Britain since the beginning of the 20th century, there were problems such as stalled traffic. The engineers decided to make a good idea even better. And by 1966, British engineers came up with the yield at entry rule. This ended the “locking” problem, improved capacity, and reduced crashes.

In the mid-70s, another variable was added -- the curved vehicle path or deflection. This helped decrease speed while “speeding” circulating time.

Many traffic circles require circulating vehicles to grant the right of way to entering vehicles.

Traffic Circles can be very large or very small. The sizes of traffic circles are determined by land availability and/or road distance needed for high speed weaving movements. They can operate at higher speeds and often require motorists to move from one lane to another.

The term Modern Roundabout became popular by 1984 because of improvements such as yielding to as opposed to merging with circulating traffic, deflection at entry, and low design speed.

In addition to slower speeds and curved entries, advantages of Modern Roundabouts also include the fact they are designed using rigorous standards based on specific turning volumes."
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Old 09-06-09, 03:09 PM   #23
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Call it a Roundabout or Traffic Circle if you must; it's still a Rotary to me!
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Old 10-11-09, 04:29 PM   #24
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Please bear in mind that the CTC (UK) found that roundabouts were about 100 times more dangerous for cyclists than signalled intersections.

We've had them for years and still a pretty high percentage of drivers can't use them properly, if there is more than one lane and especially if there are 3 lanes - even when there are on-road and gantry signs stating lane destinations.
Close call for me today in the valley by the casino. Canal Street. It's by far the best way to bicycle from downtown or the east side (that's the northeast side) to the west side. Light traffic. Few lights. One roundabout. Woman stops at the entering road (25th St) for way too long - traffic stacks up behind her as she waits at the empty circle - horns honking behind her - after she's been waiting some while, I enter from the road on her left (Canal Street E) and proceed around intending to cross in front the woman and exit at the next road (Canal Street W) - I am watching her closely - she guns it just as I am about to cross her path - I dive right, in front of the pickup waiting behind her - which driver fortunately has the presence to wait.

I'm running double-digit percent for close calls like this at roundabouts when there are other cars present.

Last edited by duffer1960; 10-11-09 at 04:49 PM.
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Old 10-11-09, 07:10 PM   #25
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Modern roundabouts are quite different from those big, old, high speed traffic circles built years ago in Washington, DC...
High speed? Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.... Oh wow, whoever wrote that hasn't been to DC in a long, long, LONG time... again...

+1 - Take the lane, ride through as you would a motor vehicle (well, like a motor vehicle is supposed to go).

I'm also taking this thread as an excuse to post a picture of "The Peanut". If you look closely, you'll see all the curbs that, unless you're driving a Jeep, make it impossible to go clockwise and not damage your car.
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