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How to Drive in a Roundabout

I’ve had the experience now of living right at the roundabout at 25th/Jefferson/M Street for the past few years. I’ve seen no serious accidents, but more than a few close calls – and there is way more than enough honking by frustrated drivers.

Hoping that this helps a little…

From our Canadian friends:

How to Drive in a Roundabout

When approaching and travelling through a roundabout slow down. […] Wait for a gap in traffic before entering the roundabout. Remember to yield to traffic in the roundabout because drivers in the roundabout always have the right-of-way. […]

Quick List of things to Remember:

  • Slow down.
  • Look and plan ahead.
  • Pedestrians go first. When entering or exiting a roundabout, yield to pedestrians at the crosswalk.
  • Look to the left, yield to all traffic in the roundabout, find a safe gap, and then go.

I’ll also add: pedestrians please use the pedestrian crosswalks, or someone is going to get run over one day.

Please remember, too, that the smaller circles on Jefferson Avenue and elsewhere in the neighborhood follow the same yield behavior.

PHOTO via Chad Williams

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112 comments

Jared 12/15/2017 at 5:22 PM

The problem I usually see, like at 27th & M, is that people on M assume they have the right of way and don’t slow down at all, even if you’re only slowing to see if anyone is going to reach the roundabout before you get there.

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Stephen J. Popovich 12/15/2017 at 4:26 PM

Sorry for all the honking. I just cant help myself!

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Ana 12/15/2017 at 7:24 PM

I experience the same issue as Jared nearly every morning at the Jefferson and 24th circle. Drivers on Jefferson assume that they have the right of way, regardless of who is already in or entering the circle. I’ve had many near misses when merging from 24th and have learned to just assume that drivers on Jefferson won’t yield properly. Plus they’re usually speeding. The circles being so small doesn’t help.

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Maritza Mercado Pechin 12/15/2017 at 6:34 PM

Amen

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westwind 12/15/2017 at 8:41 PM

It would help if the City painted YIELD in large letters on the circle entrance streets. The existing yield signage is ignored.

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Eric S. Huffstutler 12/15/2017 at 9:13 PM

The one thing not mentioned and a big problem is that people blow through the “Stopping Yield” signs. The red triangle signs where a person yields or stops to give way to those in the circle. Most of the time it is a free for all adding to road rage. There is one mounted on the power pole at 22nd and Jefferson people ignore all the time entering that circle.

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Rita Ward 12/15/2017 at 8:59 PM

Jefferson Avenue is jus a matter of time before someone is killed. No matter how many times i’m in the roundabout, someone comes "flying" down Jefferson Avenue almost hitting me. THE INDIVIDUALS IN THE TRAFFIC HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY!!!!!!

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Carla Van Fossen Mathews 12/15/2017 at 9:16 PM

For the most part I’m finding alternate routes to avoid this roundabout. If I have to use it I’ve learned to almost stop as I come towards the circle because the oncoming traffic does not recognize right of way. Scary place.

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35th & M 12/16/2017 at 9:53 AM

People constantly run Stop signs in Church Hill. I doubt this due to the fact they are confused or uneducated. These same people are certainly not going to comply with the complicated traffic circle procedures.

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Katherine Jester 12/16/2017 at 9:02 AM

I have actually seen one accident at the 25th and M roundabout and witnessed a few close calls. Also, funny that you mention it- looks like someone drove through our roundabout on chimbo and Marshall again. This is the second time

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dontmincewords 12/16/2017 at 10:03 AM

As a pedestrian, I’ve tempted fate one too many times at this intersection, usually crossing Jefferson from Sub Rosa to the otherside by the mid-century cinderblock law office. Most recently, in the dark, a car almost ran me down, so I gave the car the double middle finger and strung a slew of cuss words together. They rounded the circle, parked at the funeral home, jumped out of their car, and two young women were ready to take me down. Tried to explain the yield to pedestrians thing… then they looked down and realized I was handicapped/in a boot and backed off. Despite that, keep honking and keeping flipping the bird and one day we’ll see some behavior change.

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john m 12/16/2017 at 10:37 AM

@dontmincewords – we as a city really need to work on yielding to pedestrians

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Tracy Higgins 12/16/2017 at 9:48 AM

Some of the roundabouts are too small to be effective in my opinion. Might as well be stop signs.

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Larry Kruger 12/16/2017 at 10:34 AM

Roundabouts are so much better for traffic flow than stop lights and stop signs. If people cannot learn how to drive in them, they have no business being on the road.

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Gale Bowles Giegerich 12/16/2017 at 11:19 AM

I totally agree with this Tracy. Love roundabouts, but they DO need to be big enough to work right.

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Lee 12/16/2017 at 12:58 PM

In it’s current configuration, the M street/25th street corner of this roundabout doesn’t seem to really look or function like a round about. It might help if the roundabout were extended slightly into the empty corner by the social services building, which would give drivers turning right from M onto 25th more median to physically circle around.

But I expect this would cause problems for busses and large vehicles and it wouldn’t solve four other problems: 1) Pedestrians who walk through the circle. 2) Drivers that stop/try to yield while in the circle 3) Drivers who don’t yield at the crosswalks and 4) Drivers that go around the traffic circle backward

I’ve been residing/renovating a house on M street and have had a birdseye view of all this astoundingly stupid behavior for a couple of weeks now. Maybe a ticketing/enforcement blitz would help?

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Lee 12/16/2017 at 1:07 PM

Oh – as for the smaller circles on M street: They were initially set up as “mini-roundabouts” – which have different rules from conventional roundabouts. Traffic on M street was prioritized (yellow diamond/no yield sign), while traffic on the cross streets was required to yield. It is my understanding that this was not actually a permissible road design/traffic pattern in Virginia, and VDOT required the city to add yield signs where there had been only yellow diamonds.

Someone correct me if I’m wrong, maybe this isn’t exactly what happened, but my point is this: Installing roundabouts that don’t function like roundabouts and then converting them to actual roundabouts less than a year later seems to have utterly confused many of the neighborhood’s dumbest drivers.

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Frank 12/16/2017 at 3:33 PM

I gave up as soon as all of the 4 way stops surrounding Chimborazo Elementary School were replaced with tiny, almost non-existent roundabouts. (insert Face-palm)
It’s an elementary school for goodness sake, make people stop!
Unless the city hates children?
Richmond drivers don’t understand driving rules in general how can anyone expect them to comprehend a useful traffic junction that dates back more than 100 years.

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Amy Wildermann 12/16/2017 at 2:34 PM

Thank you. And for heavens sake, please don’t come to a complete stop at a roundabout when there is no one in it #petpeeve

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Overly Cautious Driver 12/16/2017 at 4:26 PM

Amy I do a complete stop at the roundabouts no matter what because I can’t trust the other drivers around here. I live on Chimbo and the traffic circles get wrecked. I don’t understand why its so hard for people to slow down. It’s a matter of time before someone gets really hurt.

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crd 12/16/2017 at 7:31 PM

@19 I absolutely hate the roundabout at Alamo BBQ, and try to avoid but something I cannot. I get in the middle of the roundabout, and if there are cars flying by on Jefferson Ave., you better believe I stop – completely – to avoid getting smashed into. You can pet peeve all you want, but try coming from the park and getting into the middle of that circle then having six cars FLY past on Jefferson.

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Matthew Naneville 12/18/2017 at 1:56 AM

The City just needs to change all of the yield signs to stop signs then I believe people would understand how a yield is supposed to work.

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Objectifier 12/18/2017 at 9:22 AM

#9: I can’t agree with you more. There certainly seems that a large minority of drivers simply do not care to observe. Just eat your dinner at the bar at The Hill, watch the traffic going through that 4-way stop, and you’ll see a significant amount of cars (nearly) blowing straight through.

This isn’t speeding; it’s not the lack of turn signal; not even a little tailgating. This is how someone is going to get legitimately injured.

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Brittany Dugas 12/18/2017 at 8:45 AM

Thank you!!! There should have been directions posted on every door BEFORE they were built. Unfortunatel, the traffic circle at 22nd and Jefferson was designed horribly making it even harder for people to get what the heck is going on.

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Brittany Dugas 12/18/2017 at 8:45 AM

Thank you!!! There should have been directions posted on every door BEFORE they were built. Unfortunately, the traffic circle at 22nd and Jefferson was designed horribly making it even harder for people to get what the heck is going on.

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K 12/18/2017 at 2:07 PM

I was almost run over at that stop right at the Hill. My girlfriend and I were walking across the street and some idiot in a jacked up F350 had stopped for a split second and then proceeded to plow through… almost running me over. Guess along with his overcompensation, he doesn’t like to be late.

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Katherine J 12/20/2017 at 8:23 PM

Now the roundabout at 31st and Marshall has been driven through…oy vey

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MJR 12/25/2017 at 9:26 AM

The roundabouts on Marshall and clay are too small. But I can understand why the city wanted to try to do something different besides relying solely on stop signs. Too many people blow through stop signs. There is a problem with tree branches and parked cars blocking the view of stop signs in our neighborhood. I’ve probably encountered over 10000 stop signs in the neighborhood over the several years and I don’t drive distracted but even I managed to miss stop signs twice. I’m glad no other cars were around when it happened.

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