Congestion is increasing on Colorado’s roads. Not just I-70 and I-25 but even our little neighborhood streets are feeling the impact of more residents moving to our lovely state. One of the ways that the Colorado Department of Transportation is trying to keep traffic moving while improving safety is by installing more roundabouts.
(I have to pause for humor here because every time I think of roundabouts, I think of the famous scene in National Lampoon’s Family Vacation when Clark gets the family stuck in a London roundabout. “Look kids, Big Ben! Look kids, Big Ben!” But I digress.)
Still, the Griswold family experience is something we can all relate to! In Colorado, roundabouts are fairly rare. Natives didn’t grow up with them. I’m a New Jersey native, where roundabouts and jug-handles have been around forever. These nifty traffic inventions keep traffic moving and prevent the tragic accidents that occur when people take left-hand turns across oncoming traffic.
I am starting to see more roundabouts in Colorado, including those in Lowry, Stapleton and Superior. (Golden was an early adopter!) I even saw one go in recently in a very odd place: the intersection of Seventh Avenue and Ash Street right by that extremely busy area that includes Snooze, Anthony’s Pizza and Trader Joe’s. The jury is still out on how I think that oddly placed roundabout might impact traffic.
At any rate, I thought I should share some tips for navigating roundabouts in Colorado.
Best Practices for Driving in Roundabouts
The way you manage a roundabout is all based on the number of lanes entering and exiting the intersection. Let’s start with the one-lane roundabout. Here are the steps to properly navigate a roundabout:
Read the road signs as you approach.
Check crosswalks for pedestrians and yield to any pedestrians.
Bicyclists: adhere to traffic laws when sharing the road.
Drivers: treat cyclists as another vehicle.
Before entering the roundabout, yield to approaching traffic on the left.
Do not stop completely unless there’s a car coming from the left.
Once you merge into the roundabout, maintain a consistent speed and do not stop.
Signal to exit the roundabout.
The Colorado Department of Transportation has created a great video that provides handy animations of cars entering and exiting roundabouts properly, including two-lane and three-lane roundabouts. The key is reading the signs as you approach so you understand how traffic should flow and which lane you need to start from.
I do believe that roundabouts are a positive addition to our state’s traffic management program. Hopefully, we will see fewer devastating accidents due to left-hand turns.