Driving in Circles is Fun (When You Know How to Do it Right)

Roundabout snip

Roundabouts are successfully used all over the world, by millions of people every day; however, the appearance of roundabouts in our province over the last ten years has given rise to countless questions on how to use them properly. Because our goal here at TranBC is to help you understand the why and the how of transportation in British Columbia, we reviewed your most frequently asked roundabout questions and collected the best answers.

In a multi-lane roundabout which lane should I be in?

Typically, you should look at a roundabout as they would any other signalized intersection.
Would you turn left from the right lane at a signal? So, if you want to turn left, the left lane is where you want to be.   Another important rule to remember is that you should never change lanes within a roundabout.  Instead, look at the signs (and pavement markings) in advance that show which lane to use.  Pick the correct lane in advance of the roundabout and follow it through.   You choose your lane in a multi-lane roundabout the same way you would in a traditional multi-lane intersection. To go straight or right, get in the right lane and to go straight or left, get in the left lane.

Should I signal when I enter the roundabout, when I exit the roundabout or both?

Signals are great things and we are obviously big fans. When you’re leaving the roundabout, signal a right turn just before you exit. That lets drivers waiting to enter the roundabout and pedestrians waiting to cross, know your intentions.

Do I stop for pedestrians in the roundabout?

Yes. If you look at the image above, you will see that pedestrian crosswalks are actually located outside of the traffic circle itself (approximately one car length outside of the roundabout).

If you are a pedestrian crossing the roundabout, always use the marked crosswalks. Just like crossing any road, wait for a gap in traffic, or until all vehicles are stopped.  Don’t cross to the centre island.

How do bicycles fit into the picture?

Cyclists travelling inside the roundabout are allowed full use of their chosen lane and should be treated as a vehicle. Cyclists have two choices when moving through a roundabout, depending on their level of comfort riding in traffic:

  1. Ride with traffic. In advance of the roundabout, merge with traffic when safe, occupy the lane and proceed as a vehicle, or
  2. Use a separated cycling pathway. Prior to the roundabout, exit the bike lane and share the pedestrian pathway with pedestrians. Reduce your speed and be aware of pedestrians when entering onto and travelling along the pathway. Dismount and use the marked crosswalks to cross the intersecting streets, as a pedestrian would and then exit the raised pathway at the ramp that leads down to the bike lane or shoulder of the road.

Roundabouts. The very mention of this word can create panic and confusion in some drivers’ minds. But it doesn’t have to! We hope this has helped to clarify any confusion.

If you’d like to find out more, we’ve got a useful roundabouts page you might want to have a look at. It’s loaded with information, including animations and video that shows exactly how roundabouts are used. ICBC’s guide to roundabouts is also a great resource. Any questions we haven’t answered here? Leave your question in the comments below. Happy trails!

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12 Responses to Driving in Circles is Fun (When You Know How to Do it Right)

  1. Bob Reimer on August 26, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    This is excellent. I would suggest that this information be available to the local Block Watch and community groups through the RCMP connection as the roundabouts are a concern for all drivers. The video also talks about the cyclists and pedestrians, which I have not heard explained so well.

    • tranbceditor on August 26, 2016 at 4:07 pm

      Thanks Bob,
      Your feedback is much appreciated. 🙂

  2. John on August 30, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    How do tractor trailers fit into a roundabout?

  3. Mick on September 8, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    I am from Australia where Roundabouts are used very successfully. The single biggest reason for this (in my view) is that people understand and abide by the most fundamental rule “Give Way to the car on your Right”. This would translate to “Give way to the LEFT” in Canada. The Canadian rule of “Yeild to traffic in the circle” is actually much more confusing than it needs to be. When two (or more) cars approach a roundabout at the same time in particular on smaller roundabouts, chaos ensues. I experience this everyday on my commute and it has become very obvious that if people adopted the “Give way to the LEFT” rule that the same sort of seamless flow would occur as seen in more roundabout savvy countries such as Australia and the UK. I recommend you go to a neighborhood roundabout during school drop off and you’ll see what I mean..

    • tranbceditor on September 9, 2016 at 11:44 am

      Hi Mick,

      Thanks for your comment, we have shared it forward with our traffic engineers for review.

    • Paul on February 16, 2017 at 9:49 pm

      Hey Mick,
      Perfectly put, coming from England could not agree more. It’s not just the school run its all the time, and if you actually look at the drivers (& cyclists) eye line they don’t even look to the left, actually don’t look anywhere other than the way they want to go. Not sure if this is ignorance, entitlement, or just good old fashioned stupidity? Either way completely defeats the object of rondabouts as either people drive straight through and create road rage, or stop needlessly and causing confusion and delay. What’s worse is that on the City of Vancouver’s own website they say give way to the right. Completely wrong or is this because the average Vancouverite can not differentiate between a round about and a 4way stop they replaced?
      So further confusion, adding to already inadequate driving skills of the drivers in Vancouver, no wonder there are 2800 incident calls to ICBC every day!
      Did you ever hear anything from the ‘Traffic engineers?’

  4. Doug on January 2, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    The lane dividing line marks (broken lines throughout) of this blog diagram do not agree with those at http://www.th.gov.bc.ca/roundabouts/documents/multi-lane_signs_and_markings.pdf. The latter markings provide better guidance to drivers.
    Please correct the blog diagram to reduce confusion.

    • tranbceditor on January 5, 2017 at 11:45 am

      Hi Doug,

      We are sorry for the confusion. We spoke with our traffic engineers who informed us that the province is moving towards the model with the broken lines throughout to prevent drivers inside the roundabout from making dangerous lane changes at points of entry. The best case scenario is still for drivers to choose the lane they want to use before they enter the roundabout, so that they do not have to change lanes while they are inside it. Hope that this helps!

  5. Paul maslin on February 4, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    Should I use the left hand indicater when going round a rounderbout until I reach my right turn, then indicate right.

    • tranbceditor on February 7, 2017 at 11:45 am

      Yes, Paul. Signalling left until you reach your exit lets other drivers (particularly those waiting to enter the roundabout) know you are continuing through.

  6. Paul maslin on February 4, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    This is a single lane rounderbout.

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