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The State of Roundabouts in RVA

Featured photo from @echadwilliams

Found on Reddit

This comment from 2015 still rings true, not as many accidents per se, but definitely feels like chaos during rush hour. The one on 25th and M is also scary.

You are spot on with the issues of the large roundabout. The apparent flaw in its design which is most troublesome is the flow of traffic traveling east on Jefferson. Since it appears to the drivers to be a straight path they assume to have the right-of-way and do not yield to other vehicles already in the circle. There are daily close calls and my guess is there will be many accidents as a result, not to mention the increase in noise from horns. It is disappointing that shortcuts were taken with these roundabouts.



Gale Bowles Giegerich 09/15/2019 at 7:14 AM

Amen. That’s the purpose of a roundabout, to keep traffic moving.

Scott Batson 09/16/2019 at 2:55 PM

People often confuse the factual purpose, reduce delay, with something else like ‘go faster’ or ‘keep traffic moving’. Reduce delay is relative to a signal, where half the traffic is stopped most of the time, and an all-way stop where everyone has to stop.

Modern, slow and go, roundabout intersections have less daily delay than a stop light or stop sign, especially the other 20 hours a day people aren’t driving to or from work (it’s the #2 reason they’re built). Signals take an hour of demand and restrict it to a half hour, at best only half the traffic gets to go at any one time. ‘At best’ because traffic signals must have the yellow and all red portion (6+ seconds per cycle) for safety, and modern roundabouts do not. At a modern roundabout, drivers entering from different directions can all enter at the same time. Don’t try that with a signalized intersection.

Freda Green-Bolling 09/15/2019 at 7:19 AM

What about those that don’t even yield, slow down? Perhaps that is why some people stop because of drivers who blow through roundabouts. #IJS

Brady Ennis 09/15/2019 at 8:12 AM

Freda Green-Bolling agree this is a awful title. Should be slow down and if the circle is empty proceed don’t stop

Gale Bowles Giegerich 09/16/2019 at 7:13 PM

In a well formed roundabout you can see if the way is clear before you even get to the yield sign. Of course you must yield to anyone in the circle and to anyone else who has chosen to just ignore the rules and speed through regardless of the others using the circle. But to come to a complete stop to look and see if anyone is coming is usually unnecessary, in my experience anyway.

Katherine Jester 09/15/2019 at 7:25 AM

I’d like to agree with that but since people don’t know how to yield, don’t understand right-of-way and line of sight is often impeded by vehicles parked too close to the corner, I take it with a grain of salt. Yes it’s annoying but I can understand why.

I think far more dangerous is the propensity of drivers to stop in the middle of the street or stopping when they do have the right of way which creates confusion and disrupts the traffic flow. Have right of way? Take it!

Richard Rodriguez 09/15/2019 at 9:18 AM

That statement should be the sign

Boyd Moore 09/15/2019 at 9:20 AM

All of the “roundabouts” on Jefferson are scary if you are not traveling Jefferson. I like them better than the stop lights that were there before, but the drivers on Jefferson ignore the yield signs for the most part.

Andy Barton 09/15/2019 at 9:52 AM

It’s a yield. Don’t stop unless there’s a reason. The people who stop are idiots. I’ve more than once been behind them and watched them stop at the yield and then drive right through a stop sign.

Katherine Jester 09/15/2019 at 2:02 PM

Sounds about right!

Havis L. Wright 09/15/2019 at 10:32 AM

The picture accompanying this post is the precise worst of the circles in the neighborhood to give this guidance as your visibility of and to inbound traffic is severely impeded. The circles aren’t roundabouts nor were they terribly well designed, but they are what we have. Perhaps the better tagline might be slo down inbound if we’re after something pithy.

Scott Batson 09/16/2019 at 2:53 PM

It only needs a little more deflection to the east to be just fine. You’re not supposed to be able to see all approaching vehicles. You’re supposed to slow down to 20 mph or less.

Havis L. Wright 09/16/2019 at 3:29 PM

Scott Batson “deflection to the east” can you clarify this statement

Liv Glavé 09/15/2019 at 10:53 AM

It is very confusing for the uninitiated. Growing up in the Fan they were a part of everyday life. Maybe we city dwellers can become better teachers than critics. But I understand and feel this frustration as well. It’s valid.

Frank Bucalo 09/15/2019 at 1:02 PM

If you are referring to Monument Ave with its 8 lanes and large median I would have to say they are pretty different than what they’ve got on Jefferson Ave or the ridiculous ineffective tiny ones fully surrounding Chimborazo Elementary where kids play. I am however a huge fan of the one on Idlewood Ave! Also, I agree with you that teaching is important.

Liv Glavé 09/15/2019 at 1:18 PM

Frank Bucalo I think that growing up around the “easier” ones just gave me a basic logic of them.

Havis L. Wright 09/16/2019 at 9:11 AM

Liv Glavé less easier and more those are actual roundabouts vs the indeterminate traffic control devices we have on Jefferson.

Liv Glavé 09/16/2019 at 9:19 AM

Havis L. Wright agreed. So if a person is new to all of it, that can really be a nightmare.

Scott Batson 09/16/2019 at 2:56 PM

Liv Glavé Modern roundabouts have only been constructed in the US since 1990.

Frank 09/15/2019 at 12:47 PM

I no longer live in Church Hill but how are the tiny roundabouts surrounding Chimborazo Elementary doing?! I thought that was the most irresponsible decision when they removed all the 4 way stops and replaced with small roundabouts that no one needs to actually slow down to blow through. Way to keep the kids in mind!

Church Hill People's News 09/15/2019 at 2:41 PM

Some people describe it as a free for all sometimes. But other readers may find it a different experience.

L 09/15/2019 at 2:48 PM

If money were no object, they should take the triangular of grass in front of the family resource center and just extend the roundabout a few feet further, forcing drivers on 25th to go AROUND rather than blow through the circle. But I’m not sure how that would effect emergency vehicles.

L 09/15/2019 at 2:48 PM

**Triangle of grass*** (These comments need an edit function)

Gustavo 09/15/2019 at 10:08 PM

@L We’re on it!

Thomas J. Alleman 09/15/2019 at 4:05 PM

Roundabouts need better sinage.

Joel Taurus 09/15/2019 at 5:34 PM

Would be less of a problem if they didn’t give driver’s licenses away to just anyone with eyesight… need higher standards for drivers, more frequent testing.

Scott Batson 09/16/2019 at 2:57 PM

The rules for modern roundabouts have been the same for years, and are unlikely to change, since most of them are related to the signs and markings, so they are the same everywhere. Yield means prepare to stop and do so if the cross street (left of entry in a North American roundabout) has oncoming traffic. A solid white line means you cannot change lanes. A skip line means you can. Pedestrians usually have the right of way at legal crossings if it’s safe for them to start crossing.

Specific to Modern Roundabouts are these four general rules for motorists:
1. Slow down,
2. Yield to pedestrians (entries and exits),
3. Look left and yield to drivers already in the circular roadway approaching your entry (all lanes if more than one),
4. Signal your exit (keeps things moving).

Signaling left until you’re ready to exit will also help motorists not jump in front as you go around.

At a multi-lane modern roundabout, like any other multi-lane intersection, motorists should watch for the lane use signs and road markings that tell you which lane to be in based on where you want to go.
Like other complex intersections, sometimes only the left lane can turn left, sometimes it can turn left and go through, and sometimes it can go left, through or right.
With multi-lane roundabouts entering drivers should yield to all lanes approaching them and not change lanes inside the roundabout or pass other vehicles in the circular roadway. This is because where one can exit depends on the lane use controls where you entered. Sometimes that inside lane can exit and sometimes that outside lane can go around.

jean mcdaniel 09/18/2019 at 9:11 AM

In the past two years I have been rear ended three times. Two of these were in a round about and all three were because the other driver was on their phone not paying attention. Fortunately for me, these were at a fairly low speed however I have had side panels pop off. All three driver said, ” i don’t know what happened, that guy just cut me off “, etc. The bottom line is there are a lot of self entitled drivers out there that are a threat to us all.


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