Roundabouts are circular intersections not controlled by traffic signals where motorists yield to vehicles already in the intersection. Whitehorse’s road network features several roundabouts. They have been very successful in both reducing traffic delays, and also calming traffic for the safety of motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists.
How to Use a Roundabout
The key principle to remember is that vehicles already in the roundabout have the right-of-way. Once you understand this, roundabouts are simple to use:
1. Approach: Slow down and watch for road signs, pedestrians and cyclists.
2. Yield: Look to the left for traffic and yield to traffic in the roundabout.
3. Enter: Enter the circle when it is safe to do so. Drive counter-clockwise until you reach your exit.
4. Exit: Use your right turn signal before exiting and watch for pedestrians and cyclists.
For an excellent animation and information on how to use a roundabout, go to the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
Benefits of Roundabouts
Roundabouts are becoming increasingly common in North American cities, although they have long been part of the road network in many countries. There are several benefits to roundabouts over conventional stop sign or traffic sign intersections.
Safety for motorists
Roundabouts reduce the frequency and severity of crashes. Because traffic is slower than in conventional intersections, motorists can respond to dangerous situations more easily. Potential crashes occur at lower speeds.
Safety for pedestrians and cyclists
Slower traffic is safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Roundabouts allow bicycles to enter the flow of traffic safely. As well, crossing distances for pedestrians are smaller than at intersections because roundabouts provide a safe refuge midway through the crossing.
Reduces Delays and Increases Capacity
Conventional intersections typically stop traffic completely in at least one direction. Roundabouts keep all directions of traffic moving at a steady pace. Although roundabouts curb excessive speeds, they still improve traffic flow.
Roundabouts reduce air and noise pollution because they minimize the stopping, idling, starting and acceleration associated with conventional intersections. For the same reason, they can result in better fuel efficiency for vehicles.
Roundabouts do not require traffic lights and therefore have few operational costs associated with electricity and maintenance.
Links to More Information