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Old 06-23-03, 09:18 AM   #1
Middi-zon
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How do you deal with traffic circles?

As some of you may know, I'm a mountain bike racer that just got a road bike for training purposes. Before I got the road bike my "road" training rides were about 12-15 miles of darting in and out of traffic, jumping curbs, riding down stairs, bunny-hopping potholes, cutting through parks and woods, and the like, not serious urban, but what a normal teen would do with a fast, light hardtail mountain bike. Can't really do that with my road bike (at least not yet ). So I've been planning a 30-40 mile loop on hilly back roads and wide shouldered main roads. One problem, a little over half way through I run into a traffic circle that I have to go straight through. I'm a little leary about driving in one of these things with my truck, nevermind 20 miles into a bike ride. You have to trust too many motorists too much in a traffic circle, and you know they won't give me the respect I deserve on a bike. So how should I approach it, confidently just act as a car and try to demand respect from the drivers, try to skirt my way around it through parking lots of businesses around the traffic circle, or find a different route?

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Old 06-23-03, 09:34 AM   #2
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I treat circles and large intersections as if I was another car on the road.
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Old 06-23-03, 09:48 AM   #3
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Nowhere is it more important to take the center of your lane and hold your line than in a traffic circle. I understand your nervousness -- they terrify me when I'm driving -- and I tend to do the whole circle standing up as a way to establish maximum visibility, but that's just me.

The thing is, on a road bike if you keep your speed up you're not going much slower than the other traffic anyway. So just stay in the center of the right lane and keep an eye out for cars crossing lanes from the left, and go for it.

(For our UK friends, I believe you call these things "roundabouts.")

I think PA has gotten rid of the last of these horrible things, but there were still a couple in NJ last time I was riding over there.

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Old 06-23-03, 10:08 AM   #4
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Here in Bend, Oregon we got lots of roundabouts, like said above, take the center of the lane and do it like you where in a car sort of. and be very weary of other people, a lot of people around here like to dart in and out of the roundabouts with no stoping or slowing down so it get kinda scary at times.
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Old 06-23-03, 12:26 PM   #5
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Having seen the indecision of New England drivers faced with a traffic circle, I can see your problem; I thinkyou outline the two obvious strategies perfectly. If you feel confident, then demand your space in the road and hold that ground until the circle is negotiated. Otherwise, take any manner of detour that makes you feel safer. This can be an especially attractive low-light/poor weather option.

Here in UK the same problems arise, even though roundabouts are commonplace. Nothing worse than a traffic barrier which encourages drivers to make decisions; at least lights are instructive
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Old 06-23-03, 12:50 PM   #6
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I live right outside of Boston and down the street from a traffic circle (actually, in Boston everyone calls them "rotaries"). I have to go through it to go almost anywhere, though unlike most traffic circles this one has lights which makes for an odd (initially super nerve-wracking) game of traffic chicken because they're not really timed very well and it's actually worse than a normal circle.

Like some of the other posters on this thread, I generally just do exactly what I would do if I were in a car. It really is the LEAST frightening way to get through the circle without getting motorists frustrated at you. If you can, try to ride at least at the same speed of traffic, as they'll realize you're not slowing up traffic and be friendlier.
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Old 06-23-03, 01:05 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Rich Clark
I think PA has gotten rid of the last of these horrible things, but there were still a couple in NJ last time I was riding over there.

RichC
I may be wrong, but when I lived in NJ I was told they had the first traffic circle. It was commonly referred to as Airport Circle. Can't remember its exact location, other than south Jersey not too far from Phila.

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Old 06-23-03, 02:06 PM   #8
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I'm an idiot.

I'm sitting here in Center City Philadelphia, in a building that's right on a traffic circle - Logan - with another one at the other end of the Ben Franklin Parkway (the Art Museum Circle). So obviously PA still has at least two rotaries, and I ride on one of them every day.

It's so familiar to me that I don't even think about it. But obviously PA has at least two traffic circles remaining!

(The Airport Circle is in Pennsauken NJ. I haven't been that way in a while, but I think it's still there, albeit now with traffic lights. Someone who lives over there might have more accurate info.)

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Old 06-23-03, 02:23 PM   #9
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Oh jeez, I haven't thought of Airport Circle in years.
I seem to remember it being more towards Camden.
Was it off of White Horse Pike? Rte 130? I'm so confused.
If I recall there was a pretty well known restaraunt down there?
(fwiw I lived in Haddonfield in something like 1962?, but I did go
to H.S. in Willingboro!).
I truely believe the worst circles to go through on a bike are in D.C.
Dupont Circle for example, everyone just charges in, horns blaring
brakes squealing, you get the picture?
And they say that texans are crazy drivers!

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Old 06-23-03, 05:34 PM   #10
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they started putting those darn things in around here a few years ago nothng really big. they got 2 that can hold a half a dozen or so cars our big ones and a bunch of little ones the put in residental streets so if you dont have a small car its a little tight getting though. when they first put them in i was driving a trash truck for a living and there was no way i could make it around them so i as well most of the other drivers with the company just drove over them . they didnt hold up for to long but they replaced them anyway... well some of the jerkweeds who thought they were the beesknees got voted out and the new mayor appointed a new guy for the street planing or what ever office it was that was in charge of putting them in.. we still have them, but a bigger one of them was planned for redoing a bad intersection.. but was not used yeeehaw....... man i hate those things when i drove a ready mix truck i came close to being hit more then once trying to go through these " Safe" intersections in a big bright yellow ready mix truck how can these folks not see me..... or do they think that a big truck carrying 6-8 yards of concrete can stop on a dime...... ok i need to stop im getting a little pissed ........ sorry for the rant
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Old 06-23-03, 06:03 PM   #11
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Roundabouts don't scare me! Bring it on!

Seriously, the first time I saw a roundabout ever, I was living in Australia- I'd rented a car, and I got to the roundabout, and there were no other cars, so I just pulled over and stared at it and waited for another car to see what they would do.

After about 10 minutes, I got tired of waiting, so I started driving towards it. I saw another car coming from the other direction, and it entered the roundabout, so I figued I would have to go the opposite direction, so I entered the roundabout too and went the opposite way. When I did, all hell broke loose, and the car going in the opposite direction of me started honking and shaking his fist. By that time, other cars had approached, and they all started honking. That's when I realized I was wrong, and that was embarrassing, let me tell you!

Anyway, I digress. Roundabouts don't scare me- I've been in some bad roundabouts while on my bike in Europe, and I've never been so terrified in my life. But after going through that, it's like I don't have a problem with roundabouts anymore. I say go find the biggest, most intimidating roundabout you can possibly find and just go for it, and do it a few times. After that, I bet it won't be so hard for you to merge in with the traffic anymore.

All right, Grasshopper. Lesson over.
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Old 06-23-03, 07:34 PM   #12
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We are fortunate and don't have traffic circles where I live.
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Old 06-23-03, 08:35 PM   #13
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Round abouts / traffic circles / berliner... in Australian law a cyclist is allowed to turn left, right or go straight ahead from any lane irrespective of lane markings. It's very important to take the middle of the lane and signal clearly your intention to other drivers. They are very common here in Australia both in major intersections and smaller single lane residential roads.

If the round about is very busy just take your time in the queue (don't push up on their left/right - depending on your country) in the middle of the lane and proceed like any other vehicle.

Predictability and confidence is the key.

BTW to explain my reference re berliner... a berliner is a German jam filled donut... oh but in the US jam is jelly which means my lame joke doesn't work... oh well, a berliner is a bit like a donut jammed up with cars... not a donut jellied up with cars... Oh never mind.
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Old 06-23-03, 08:46 PM   #14
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We have a few real roundabouts here in the Seattle area. Those aren't bad. I just act like any other vehicle and I definately will take the lane. What annoys me is when people don't signal when they're about to exit the roundabout. We also have pseudo-roundabouts which are placed at small intersections to try and break up speed of traffic flow. These IMHO are highly dangerous. The circle itself is smaller than the actual intersection. the idea is that a car would have to slow in order to swerve as it goes through the intersection. Some people don't know how to handle it. This is especially true when turning left. It is legal to make a left turn across this intersection as if the circle were not there. In effect you are briefly going against the normal flow of traffic. Other times, if you try and go with the flow of traffic and treat the circle as if it were a real roundabout by going around to make the left turn, people entering the roundabout may assume you're simply going straight through and pull out in front of you. They should either make these clear and obvious roundabouts or do away with them altogether.
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Old 06-23-03, 09:08 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Rich Clark
Nowhere is it more important to take the center of your lane and hold your line than in a traffic circle. I understand your nervousness -- they terrify me when I'm driving -- and I tend to do the whole circle standing up as a way to establish maximum visibility, but that's just me.

The thing is, on a road bike if you keep your speed up you're not going much slower than the other traffic anyway. So just stay in the center of the right lane and keep an eye out for cars crossing lanes from the left, and go for it.

(For our UK friends, I believe you call these things "roundabouts.")
Yet more sound advice from Rich C. The only thing I can add to it is to be aware of the traffic behind you, and clearly signal your intentions when claiming the lane. Hand signals are sufficient, but do this a little in advance to give yourself time to gauge the reaction of the drivers behind you. Some of them will actually accelerate when they realise what you intend to do, so you need to allow a few seconds for this to happen.
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Old 06-23-03, 11:10 PM   #16
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Originally posted by lotek
Oh jeez, I haven't thought of Airport Circle in years.
I seem to remember it being more towards Camden.
Was it off of White Horse Pike? Rte 130? I'm so confused.
If I recall there was a pretty well known restaraunt down there?
(fwiw I lived in Haddonfield in something like 1962?, but I did go
to H.S. in Willingboro!).
I was kinda thinking it would be closer to Camden too, partly because I don't think we normally traveled quite as far as Pennsauken. Rt 130 also sounds very familiar as a possible site as I know we rode on that a lot.

Interesting you mention a restaurant. My father used to talk about a good one being there. I just can't remember. Seems to me it was called "Airport Diner", but I could be wrong.

I grew up in Woodbury which I'm sure you know is very close to Haddonfield. We used to play them in football every year (I was in the class of 67)

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Old 06-23-03, 11:41 PM   #17
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Roundabouts don't scare me! Bring it on!


It's in Swindon (England)

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Old 06-24-03, 12:16 AM   #18
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Now you have to tell me where the golly is there and how are you supposed to navigate it!!
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Old 06-24-03, 05:42 AM   #19
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Now you have to tell me where the golly is there and how are you supposed to navigate it!!
I'd say you're supposed to navigate it instinctively - the same way I navigate Brisbane when I'm up there. Not because it has a lot of roundabouts, just because all roads lead to the Story Bridge. Sometimes you are the only one you can trust.
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Old 06-24-03, 11:54 AM   #20
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Ok the "circle" near me is a mess! People that know how to drive it drive too fast. People who don't know or are tenative drive slow or STOP IN the circle.

Me I drive it too fast so I will stay away unless I can simply take the first out....but then the bike lane stripe is gone a sign of bad habits all over. I hate to admit it but I use the sidewalk!
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Old 06-24-03, 12:38 PM   #21
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After seeing this I will never move to a big city. Give me the rednecks and little old lady drivers.(But thats another story)
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Old 06-24-03, 09:30 PM   #22
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Ok the "circle" near me is a mess! People that know how to drive it drive too fast. People who don't know or are tenative drive slow or STOP IN the circle.
That's nothing. I often see people reverse in these things.
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