A roundabout is a circular intersection where two or more roads meet. Traffic circulates through them counter-clockwise, to the right of a centre island. All entering vehicles must yield to traffic already in the roundabout.
Roundabouts have a number of benefits over traditional intersections, including:
- Safety - lower speeds and fewer points of conflict between vehicles reduces the potential for serious crashes and injury.
- Lower speed - unlike at a green light at an intersection, vehicles need to slow down to use a roundabout, reducing the likelihood of a serious crash.
- Higher capacity - a high volume of vehicles turning left is handled better by a roundabout than by a left-turn signal at a traditional intersection.
- Fewer stops and shorter delays - yielding at the entry of a roundabout takes less time than waiting for a green light at an intersection or for a gap in traffic at a stop sign.
- Less idling and air pollution - fewer delays reduce fuel consumption and emissions.
- Lower maintenance costs - roundabouts eliminate maintenance and electricity costs associated with traffic signals.
- Aesthetically pleasing – there are opportunities for landscaping within the central island of a roundabout.
Driving through the roundabout
1. Slow down and watch for lane usage signs, then position your vehicle in the appropriate lane for entering the roundabout (hint: it’s the same lane that you would choose for a regular intersection):
- If you’re turning left, enter from the left lane
- If you’re turning right, enter from the right lane
- If you’re going straight, enter from the left or right lane
- If you’re making a U-turn, enter from the left lane
2. Choose your lane and signal
- If you’ll be turning left, signal left until it’s time to exit the roundabout
- If you’ll be turning right, signal right
- If you’ll be going straight no need to signal until it’s time to exit the roundabout
- If you’ll be making a U-turn, signal left
3. Watch and yield for pedestrians at the pedestrian cross-overs
4. Yield to traffic that’s already in the roundabout, and enter when the coast is clear
5. Stay in your lane and signal right when exiting
Navigating on foot
If you’re walking near a roundabout, use the designated crossings and sidewalks or multi-use paths.
Never cross to the centre of the roundabout. Instead, travel on the designated sidewalk or multi-use path around the outside, crossing one direction of vehicle traffic at a time, and pausing on the pedestrian islands in between.
Always make sure drivers stop or there is a gap in traffic before you cross. If the crossing is equipped with a push button, press it to activate the flashing beacons, and make eye contact with the driver to ensure they’ve seen you.
Navigating by bike
If you’re riding a bike through a roundabout, you have two options.
- For confident cyclists, you can ride through the roundabout like a vehicle. Before entering the roundabout, carefully move into the centre of the appropriate travel lane. Stay in the middle of the traffic lane until you are ready to exit the roundabout and then signal so that others around you can see when you are ready to exit.
- For a more comfortable experience, you can choose to ride or walk your bike around the outside of the roundabout. If bike lanes or multi-use paths are present, you can keep riding until the crosswalks, where you’ll need to walk your bike across. If there is only a sidewalk, you’ll have to walk your bike on the sidewalk and through the crosswalks.