Roundabouts

The city where I live, San Diego, has begun using roundabouts to channel car traffic and to slow it down. I’ve spoken with people who don’t like them because they think they reduce parking spaces. Around here, eliminating any place to park is an assault on our way of life, though I’m not convinced roundabouts really do make it harder to park.

I think roundabouts are kind of fun. I like driving in circles and figuring out which exit to take. And they do slow traffic, which makes me feel a lot safer when I’m biking on Meade Avenue, where they just created what look like about a dozen roundabouts.

One of the new roundabouts on Meade Avenue.

The problem in the U.S. is people don’t really know how to use them. I’ve noticed this riding my bike.

When I’m in a roundabout cars seem like they want to barge right into them even if there’s somebody in the circle already. Of course, they’re used to just barreling ahead whenever they’re traveling on a through street. The only impediment. they think, should be a stop sign or a stop light.

So I did a Google search of the phrase “traffic rules for roundabouts.” Here’s what I found, and it sums up the main point pretty well.

Give way: the most important rule – when entering a roundabout, give way to traffic on the roundabout, unless road markings or signs say otherwise. If the way is clear keep moving. Stopping at a clear roundabout slows traffic and can cause frustrating delays.

It’s funny that I found this very helpful advice on a British website, http://www.nidirect.gov.uk. It’s a government site that has tips about motoring, crime and justice, property and housing… among other things.

I was on vacation once when I rented a car in the UK and had to navigate their roundabouts, which was pretty tricky when you’re driving on the wrong side of the road and shifting with your left hand.

Let me just say I am a supporter of roundabouts in America but I understand if people here think they’re a little too foreign. Just give it some time.

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