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Roundabouts. An introduction

Roundabouts are my favourite junction, they are simple to negotiate, cause no unnecessary delay, and are very safe. Unfortunately, because of conflicting advice, ambiguous road markings and a general lack of understanding by both the members of the public who use them and the road designers who construct them, they are sometimes seen as hazardous.

On these pages I will attempt to give some basic advice and hope that it will enable the reader to use these junctions correctly and safely. I cannot give a definitive guide as to your precise position and route since that depends on the specific junction layout as well as traffic and other varying situations. Take what I write here as something to make you think about how to get around your specific circumstances. If you have any questions then email me and I will try to clarify the point.

Techniques and advice that are correct for one roundabout could be dangerous on a different roundabout. Each and every junction must be assessed individually and carefully. As long as you are aware of the issues and plan ahead, you should remain safe at all times.

A roundabout enables traffic to cross at a junction without having to sit stationary waiting for a signal. A well planned junction which is busy can be a delight to watch as traffic crosses with all the precision of a column of ants bringing home the contents of an unattended sweet tin. Unfortunately, in the same way the ants are well drilled, so must all the road users be; one glitch or hesitation can cause a stutter that may take a few minutes to recover from.

As a cyclist you should be able to treat the junction in the same way a fish swims along a tumbling bubbling stream. You just get into a comfortable speed and flow past all obstacles. You overtake the slow traffic, you slot into the gaps almost without thinking, and you let the faster traffic pass you with room to spare. As soon as you tense up and fight the flow you’ll be in trouble as the turbulence starts. Relax and be smooth.

There are three basic steps to negotiating a roundabout.
- The approach
- Going around the roundabout
- Exiting the roundabout.

Of course those seem really obvious, and I can already see you saying “How does that help me?” Well the answer lies in the sub steps of those basic steps. Those are what I will now talk you through.

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