Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Demystifying The Roundabout

Traffic Circles have been around for a long time.  One of the earliest was made in Bath, England in 1768.  There are a few in the eastern cities.  The first modern roundabout emerged in England in the 1960's.  The modern version started to appear in the United States in the 1990s but because most people treat signs as mere suggestions, they can be difficult to use.
 When you see this sign, you do not need to panic if you pay attention to the signs actually in the roundabout.  One reason that the state of Michigan has started to use them is because they improve the traffic flow when used properly.  They also decrease side impacts in accidents.  There are a few symbols that are used.  I will try to explain them here.
 I decided to use the traffic circle at Geddes and US-23.  If you are heading from Ann Arbor to Ypsilanti, the first traffic circle is used to head south and the second is used to head north.  If you are heading from Ypsilanti to Ann Arbor, the opposite is the case.
 Before entering the traffic circle, you need to know where you are going.  You shouldn't change lanes or pass in the traffic circle (but people do).  In this case, if you are going straight, you can be in either lane.  If you want to head to Toledo (for instance and for some reason), you need to be in the center lane.  As is the case in another traffic situation, a solid white line is supposed to be like a brick wall.
 Because we get a little dusting of snow in Michigan, sometimes the lane markers may not be visible, so regular signs re-iterate what is on the lane markers.
 The yield sign is probably the most important sign of the traffic circle.  It means that you are supposed to yield to traffic that is already in the circle.  You can proceed when you feel it is safe to do so.
 Traffic in the circle goes in one direction.  Pay attention to that.
 Once you are in the circle, do not stop. 
The one way sign reinforces the fact that the traffic circle itself is one way.
An attempt at an overall picture of the circle.  Granted, it's not a proper traffic circle until there is a statue in the center.


ScottRAB said...

The FHWA has a video about modern roundabouts that is mostly accurate (http://tinyurl.com/6v44a3x).

Matthew Goebel said...

Then there is the mess up in Brighton, massed roundabouts...