A roundabout is the modern version of a roadway intersection that accommodates traffic flow in one direction (counterclockwise) around a central island. It operates with yield signs at entry points and gives priority to vehicles within the roundabout (the circular flow). A roundabout has:
- Slower approach speeds
- Raised splitter" islands directing approaching traffic to the right
- Yield signs at entry points
- One-directional traffic flow (counterclockwise)
- A central island
Why a Roundabout?
When Washington County was planning for transportation improvements at certain intersections, we invited Citizen Advisory Committees to give us their opinions. Roundabouts emerged as clear winners. Why did citizens think they would be a good idea?
- Improved traffic flow
- Improved safety (less potential for accidents due to lower number of conflict points, and less severe accidents due to lower speeds)
- More sustainable
- Improved air quality
- Improved traffic calming (reduces speed entering the roundabout)
- Adaptable to more complex intersections
- Lower construction and maintenance costs
How do I maneuver through a Roundabout?
Before entering a roundabout, traffic signage and striping advises the user that a roundabout is ahead, assists in directing the user through the roundabout, and indicates that speed may need to be reduced. Different guidelines apply for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians as described below.
As you approach the roundabout, advance warning signs inform the user of the road configuration and reduced speed limit ahead.
A directional sign will inform the driver, in advance of entering the roundabout, where exits are located.
As you enter the divided approach, slow down and proceed to the right (counterclockwise). If cyclists or pedestrians are crossing at the crosswalk, stop and allow them to cross; it’s the law.
When entering the roundabout, move slowly to the yield sign, looking left. A yield sign requires you to give right of way to those vehicles already in the roundabout. When the road is clear, proceed forward and to the right.
Continue around the roundabout until you get to your exit and then exit carefully, using your turn signal. If you miss your exit, just go around again. When exiting, watch for pedestrians or cyclists trying to cross and yield the right of way to them.
Roundabouts have been designed to accommodate large trucks and emergency vehicles. These larger vehicles may use the concrete run-up apron around the central island in order to maneuver through the roundabout.
Cyclists may maneuver through the roundabout on the roadway similarly to a vehicle. Alternatively, bicyclists may exit the roadway at the curb ramps and use the sidewalk, similar to a pedestrian.
As in the case of vehicles, advance warning signs will advise bicyclists of the road configuration, approaching speed limit ahead and where the exits are located.
As you enter the divided approach, slow down and proceed to the right (counterclockwise). If pedestrians are crossing, give them the right of way.
When entering the roundabout, move slowly to the yield sign, looking left. When the road is clear, proceed forward and to the right.
Continue around the roundabout until your exit and then exit carefully, using proper hand signals. Watch for pedestrians trying to cross the street and yield the right of way to them.
Though there are no stop signs or traffic signals, pedestrians may cross the roundabout safely using these important safety tips:
- Use sidewalks and designated crosswalks.
- Never try to cross the roundabout and get to the central island.
- Cross one lane at a time, using the area within the raised "splitter" island for refuge.
- When crossing an entry lane, look away from the roundabout for oncoming traffic.
- When crossing an exit lane, look back toward the roundabout for traffic exiting.
As a pedestrian, you have the right of way while in the designated crosswalk, but always enter the crosswalk carefully, so drivers can see you and stop in time for you.
Additional Helpful Links: