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About Roundabouts 

 Roundabout

 Image Courtesy Google Maps

Roundabouts are becoming more and more common as intersection control in specific situations for traffic calming as well as efficiency of movement for motorists. They help to improve traffic flow by allowing drivers to slow down and go around until making a turn instead of stopping and waiting. They can prevent serious crashes involving injuries at intersections because they reduce speeds and virtually eliminate right-angle collisions. 

Roundabout Etiquette

Tips for drivers:

  • Always reduce your speed when approaching a roundabout
  • Keep to the right of the splitter island
  • Always yield to pedestrians and cyclists when entering and exiting a roundabout
  • Look to the left for traffic and yield to vehicles entering the circle
  • A vehicle circulating within the traffic circle has the right-of-way over vehicles entering the circle
  • Always drive counterclockwise around a circular island
  • Signal a right turn just in advance of your exit location so drivers waiting to enter and pedestrians waiting to cross know your intentions

Tips for pedestrians:

  • Use the sidewalks and marked crosswalks around the perimeter of the traffic circle
  • Never walk in the circular roadway or cross to the central island
  • Use the splitter island, it allows you to cross one direction of traffic at a time
  • Look and listen for traffic, then choose a safe time to cross from the curb ramp to the splitter island

Tips for cyclists:

  • Obey the same driving instructions as for motor vehicles
  • Merge with traffic when safe and occupy the middle of the driving lane
  • Be cautious of driver's blind spots
  • If you prefer, dismount and walk your bicycle through the intersection in the marked crosswalk

Frequently Asked Questions

Roundabouts, rotaries, traffic circles - they're all the same, aren't they?

Aren't traffic signals safer than roundabouts for pedestrians?
Are roundabouts appropriate everywhere?
I drive a big truck and that roundabout looks awfully tight. Will my vehicle fit?
What should I do when I'm in a roundabout and an emergency vehicle arrives?
How about cycling through a roundabout?
What about snow removal at roundabouts?

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Roundabouts, rotaries, traffic circles - they're all the same, aren't they? 

No. Other than sharing a circular shape, a modern roundabout operates much differently than other traffic circles, including rotaries. A modern roundabout requires entering traffic to yield the right-of-way to traffic already in the roundabout. This keeps the traffic in the roundabout constantly moving and prevents much of the gridlock that plagues rotaries. Modern roundabouts are also much smaller than traffic circles and thus operate at safer, slower speeds. The design of a modern roundabout allows capacities comparable to signals but with generally a higher degree of safety.

Aren't traffic signals safer than roundabouts for pedestrians?

It depends on the amount of pedestrians and vehicles. In many cases a roundabout can offer a safer environment for pedestrians than a traffic signal because the pedestrian crossing at a roundabout is reduced to two simple crossings of one-way traffic moving at slow speeds. A pedestrian crossing at a traffic signal still needs to contend with vehicles turning right or left on green, vehicles turning right on red and vehicles running the red light. The latter of these potential conflicts occur at high speeds and often result in injuries or fatalities to pedestrians.

Are roundabouts appropriate everywhere?

No. The choice of using a roundabout versus a traffic signal is a case-by-case decision. The City of Kelowna evaluates each candidate intersection individually to determine whether a roundabout or a traffic signal is more appropriate.

I drive a big truck and that roundabout looks awfully tight. Will my vehicle fit?

Yes. The roundabout has been designed to accommodate large vehicles. As you approach the roundabout, stay close to the left side of the entry. As you exit, again stay close to the left side of the exit.

What should I do when I'm in a roundabout when an emergency vehicle arrives? 

Exit the roundabout at the nearest exit and pull over to the right and stop. Do not stop in the roundabout as you might block the path of a large emergency vehicle.

How about cycling through a roundabout?

A cyclist has a number of options at a roundabout and the choice will depend on the degree of comfort riding in traffic. The speed of cars through a roundabout is close to the speed you ride your bicycle. You can choose to either circulate as a vehicle or use the sidewalk around the roundabout. When circulating as a vehicle, be sure to ride near the middle of the lane so that drivers can see you and will not attempt to pass you. Cars should be travelling at speeds similar to your speed within the circular roadway portion of the roundabout.

What about snow removal at roundabouts?

A number of communities in snowy areas have installed roundabouts. All have indicated that while there is some initial adjustment in procedures for snowplow crews, roundabouts generally present no major problems for snow removal. 

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