July 20, 2024
Roundabouts will work more smoothly to ease traffic as more people know how to use them

Q: I was in Europe recently and amazed how we (a motorcycle tour group) could ride long routes through many towns and cities without ever stopping. The main reason for this is roundabouts. They were well-designed, not what we seem to be getting in the U.S. It helps when drivers have familiarity with roundabouts, but I also found that most European roundabouts were larger. The curve, being more relaxed, meant you could drive faster through them. The larger size also allowed better viewing of oncoming traffic in the circle. You could more easily judge the merge and there was more room to navigate.

Too many intersections here are poorly designed. Many roundabouts seem to be created almost as a speed bump to slow traffic, rather than to help increase the flow of traffic. Certainly, available land is a problem, but it’s not like Europe has lots of room for intersections either, with towns designed much longer ago. Our traffic engineers need not be afraid to move forward to good solutions.

Alan Arndt, San Jose

A: More roundabouts are coming. The Bay Area has plans to add more than a dozen roundabouts over the next year or so from Interstate 80 near Livermore to Highway 156 in San Benito County.

Raising people’s familiarity and comfort with roundabouts is important for roundabouts to provide the benefits for which they are designed. You raise an interesting point about the larger size of them in Europe.

Q: I think roundabouts are great! But apparently, not everyone has figured out how they work yet.

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Can we change signs from “Yield” to “All Way Merge”?

“Yield” makes some people think they have to wait for everyone else and others who tend toward the selfish side ride the rear bumper of the vehicle ahead of them.

And will you all please use your turn signals while using roundabouts? I almost ran into a big box truck in a roundabout recently because they did not have their turn signal on to indicate they were turning left through the roundabout.

Paul Brannon, San Jose

A: Roundabouts will work more smoothly as people gain experience with them. Here’s a summary of roundabout instructions from the Right-of-Way Rules, part of the DMV Driver Handbook:

Slow as you approach.
Yield to traffic in the roundabout.
Enter heading to the right when there is a gap in traffic that allows you to merge safely.
Watch for signs and lane markings that guide you.
Travel in a counter-clockwise direction. Do not stop or pass.
Signal when you change lanes or exit.
If you miss your exit, continue around until you return to your exit.

Look for Gary Richards at facebook.com/mr.roadshow or contact him at [email protected].

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