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The number of roundabouts we have is only going up, so it's time to learn how to use them properly

Traffic engineers say they're safer and more cost-effective
The number of roundabouts we have is only going up, so it's time to learn how to use them properly
Posted at 4:28 PM, Apr 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-17 23:22:56-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — As our area continues to grow, traffic engineers have become more innovative as they design our roads, and the roundabout is one of those popular innovations we’re seeing pop up more and more.

But what’s the point? Are roundabouts really any better than a traffic light or stop sign?

Jeremy Beckman will tell you, he’s definitely a pro-roundabout kind of guy.

“Absolutely, because I hate waiting at stop signs in the morning when you're trying to get to work, when you’ve gotta pick up your coffee,” Beckman said.

It’s why, when a three-way stop near his house in Gleneagle became a roundabout a couple years ago, things have been sailing a lot smoother.

“The roundabout has made it so there’s never really a wait,’ he said. “And now, I can get to work about 5-10 minutes faster.”

But not everyone is so pleased.

“There’s a lot of people who didn’t like the change,” Beckman said. “They like the three-way stop because they’re familiar with it.”

But if you ask the experts, making the switch to a roundabout is a no-brainer.

“It’s gonna be a safer intersection,” Colorado Springs’ head traffic engineer Todd Frisbie said. “At a traditional intersection, I think you have 32 conflict points. At a roundabout, you have 8.”

And compared to an intersection with a traffic light, roundabouts save the taxpayers money.

“We aren’t running out electricity to operate a signal,” Frisbie said. “We don’t have to send crews out to replace a burned-out red bulb.”

But if there’s one thing Beckman still notices, not everyone has quite mastered it.

“There’s definitely some people confused,” Beckman said. “One time we had a lady try to turn left through the roundabout and we were right in front of them and that took a while to undo that situation.”

But he has a thought.

“The department of licensing could just make a quick video on roundabouts. When you renew your license you have to watch it.”

Just in case you are unsure how a roundabout works, it’s pretty simple.

When you approach the roundabout--if there’s already a car circling through it immediately to your left--yield to them and let them pass before you enter. If there’s not anyone immediately to your left going through the roundabout, no need to come to a stop. Just go on through and let other cars yield to you as you circle through. Don’t stop to let other cars into the roundabout if you’re already in it.

Don't switch lanes in a roundabout. Road markings leading up to a roundabout will indicate which lanes will allow you to continue straight, turn left, or turn right through the roundabout. Pick the lane you want before you enter the roundabout, and follow it through the roundabout.

Of course, always drive defensively, and be aware there may be drivers who aren’t sure how to use it.