Tanya from Erie writes, “What's Driving You Crazy? The roundabout at Erie Parkway and N. 119th Street is a yield, not a stop. It drives me crazy when cars come to a complete stop at roundabouts and others don't allow cross traffic to merge. They are designed to keep traffic flowing. So 'thread the zipper' folks and yield to others entering and exiting the circle. I was fortunate to drive around Europe where roundabouts are common and work extremely well and I am dumbfounded that people in the US can't make them work.”
Roundabouts are one of my favorite types of intersection because, if used properly, they keep traffic moving much better than a signalized or signed intersection. Traffic engineers will tell you that roundabouts are designed to make intersections safer and more efficient for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. Drivers who infrequently use them may tell a different story. There are two types of roundabouts: Single-lane roundabouts and multi-lane roundabouts. The one on Erie Parkway at N. 119th Street is a single-lane.
That specific roundabout in Erie was originally constructed in 2008. Amber Luttrell, communications and marketing manager for the city of Erie tells me, “There was quite a bit of resident engagement that even began as early as 2006 with an open house, board meetings, a ‘Guide to Roundabouts,’ a PowerPoint and other outreach.”
The real problem with navigating a roundabout is inexperienced drivers. Drivers who don’t use them often or new residents who don’t come from a place with them have trouble entering, staying in, and exiting the roundabout.
Recent Erie Police Department statistics show, on average, there have been about two crashes a month at that roundabout. Since its inception, there have been a total of 90 citations and 92 crashes since 2008. Many of the citations go with the crashes.
Two more roundabouts are planned in Erie along County Line Road.
The town of Erie offers these driving tips when using their roundabout or any other you may come across in Colorado:
• When entering the roundabout, yield to traffic already navigating it.
• When a safe gap is available, merge into roundabout traffic.
• As you travel the roundabout, pay attention to signage and merging vehicles.
• In the roundabout, you are allowed the right-of-way, but pay attention to inexperienced roundabout travelers.
• When you reach your desired exit point, signal to alert fellow motorists that you are exiting the roundabout and safely move out of it.
Here are some other reminders:
• Exits should always be smooth; if you're making a sharp turn (greater than 90 degrees) when exiting, check your traffic directions!
• Pay attention to pedestrians navigating the roundabout and make note of painted crosswalks and signage.
• Be patient and respectful of other drivers. While roundabouts are designed to improve traffic and pedestrian safety, many motorists are unfamiliar with their unique requirements.
The State of Washington DOT has some good key things to remember about using roundabouts and posted a helpful video to YouTube. The website EPermitTest also has a good list of rules and tips to help you navigate a roundabout properly.
Denver7 traffic anchor Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is over 20 years.) He's obsessed with letting viewers know what's happening on their drive and the best way to avoid the problems that spring up. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or listen to his Driving You Crazy podcast on iTunes , Stitcher , Google Play or Podbean.