May 21, 2005
Around and around and around they go. How to get out, they don’t seem to know. Roundabouts are relatively rare in Colorado Springs but seem to be a dizzying dilemma for many drivers.
Roundabouts are even ripe territory for comedy — “The Simpsons” spoofed them not long ago as the cartoon characters got stuck in one for hours. But behind the swirl of cars and uncertain lane changes, experts say roundabouts are a beautiful way to make roads safer. Roundabouts can reduce the number and severity of wrecks at intersections, according to a 2000 U.S. Department of Transportation study. Driving a one-lane roundabout is simple: Just yield to cars that are in the circle. But how should a driver navigate a roundabout with multiple lanes, like the one at the First & Main shopping center off Powers Boulevard, reader Barb Myers asked. Only one wreck has occurred in the roundabout at First & Main in more than four years, according to the company that built it, Nor’- wood Development Group. The company is planning more multilane roundabouts, said Vice President of Commercial Development Fred Veitch. Colorado Springs police Lt. Steve Tobias offers this guidance on driving a multilane roundabout, slightly edited by The Gazette: “This roundabout at South Carefree Circle and New Center Point is set up with two lanes entering and exiting at all four intersection roadways. “The first thing to do when approaching the roundabout is to look at the signs indicating the proper ways to enter and exit. Drivers should select the lane by which to enter the roundabout based on which lane they need to be in to exit. Drivers should not change lanes once in the roundabout. “The right lane is intended to make the first right turn possible after entering the roundabout or to make the second possible right, which would be a continuation of the same road as when a driver entered. For example, a driver eastbound on South Carefree in the right lane can turn right (south) onto New Circle or continue east on South Carefree. “The left lane is intended to exit at the street opposite from the one entered (continuing straight on the same road), to make a left turn as if it was a normal intersection, or to make a U-turn and return on the street from which a driver entered. For example, a driver eastbound on South Carefree in the left lane can continue east on South Carefree, turn to the left (north onto New Circle,) or continue around and return to westbound South Carefree. “Drivers approaching the roundabout must yield to any pedestrians crossing the street. If there are no pedestrians, drivers must yield to traffic in their lane in the roundabout. Drivers approaching from the right lane must enter the right lane, and drivers approaching from the left lane must enter the left lane. “Drivers entering the roundabout from the right lane must keep in mind that if they plan to continue straight on the same road and not take the first right turn, they could be next to a vehicle in the left lane that entered at a different location and might be turning right at the intersection. This is the danger area of a two-lane roundabout.” Have a question or comment about getting around the Pikes Peak region? Send it to Perry Swanson, firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 476-4878. Your weekly guide to getting there by The Gazette’s Perry Swanson.