October 23


The safety record of roundabouts is great (almost no fatalities in roundabouts, radically safer than traffic signals), but a drawback is that they’re not very user friendly for bicyclists or pedestrians.

Pedestrians are generally forced to walk further in a roundabout versus a traffic signal because they have to walk all of the way around plus they don’t get a walk indication giving them the right of way over cars.  Bicyclists need to dive into the roundabout – doable on a single lane roundabout, but harrowing on a multi-lane roundabout (or they can act as pedestrians and walk their bike around).

One of the first multi-lane roundabouts (I think actually the first) in Minnesota even put tunnels underneath it to separate bikes/peds from traffic (Radio Drive roundabout in Woodbury).

The Dutch built a separated bicycle trail outside of the roundabout where vehicles need to yield to the bicyclists – see video below.  I read about this on Bicycle Dutch.  I don’t think adding a bike lane to every roundabout should become standard practice, but it is something we should all keep in the back of our mind if we have a bike trail coming into a roundabout or if we think there will be heavy bicycle commuter traffic at a multi-lane roundabout.

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Mike Spack

My mission is to help traffic engineers, transportation planners, and other transportation professionals improve our world.

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