Traffic Circles and Cyclists’ Road Safety

vancouver streetsRecently, more and more attention has been drawn to the dangers of traffic circles, or mini roundabouts for cyclists.  While these have increasingly been instituted in the city of Vancouver and elsewhere as a means to slow down traffic, there are a variety of reasons why these are actually causing more problems than they are solving.

At least two recent studies have shown that these traffic circles are causing more risks for cyclists than regular intersections.  Not only do many people, motorists and cyclists included, not know the proper way to use them, but they can also be very dangerous in icy or wet weather.

All too many motorists fail to check to their left when entering a traffic circle.  Some seem likewise to refuse to slow down which is in effect the whole reason for the institution of these roundabouts in the first place.  Some people stop when in fact they have the right away creating a good deal of confusion for everyone.

If you don’t know how to use a roundabout it is certainly worth looking up the rules so as not to cause confusion or worse while driving.  Aside from these dangers however there are other issues with roundabouts that have been brought up by those who commute frequently by bike.

For cyclists, these roundabouts can be dangerous especially during icy weather.  Because of the turning required and the significant front wheel angle that you need to get, falling becomes more likely.  In bad road conditions this can actually be treacherous.

Some traffic circles have also reduced visibility due to plants and other well meaning obstructions in the middle of the circle.  While these additions can certainly be beautiful, they can also be dangerous for cyclists and motorists alike.

So although with the best intentions these roundabouts have been added to reduce traffic speed, the fact of the matter is that they can do more harm than good in some areas.  If you are a Vancouver real estate owner that commutes by bike or even a motorist that finds these additions distracting or dangerous, talk to you local city representative about alternatives.

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