Driving the ROUNDABOUT the Whys and Hows

Beth Brainard
Ex Director of NPC

Single lane roundabouts have come to Naples, and actually to all of Florida at the behest of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). These roundabouts differ considerably from the high-speed traffic circles that so many Neapolitans have encountered in the Northeast. Do you hate the idea? Statistics show that after one year, most of you who were against the installation of a single lane roundabout in your neighborhood will have reversed your opinion and the level of public support will have reached 70 percent. This happens for a number of reasons, all of which are
identified by FDOT, AARP, and significantly the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which has money riding on motorists not crashing.

These organizations along with traffic planners across the world endorse single lane roundabouts as the preferred option for moving traffic on roadways with volumes up to 25,000 vehicles per day including trucks, buses, and emergency vehicles. A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety enumerates the other benefits:
Roundabouts increase safety by eliminating the most common crashes: right-angle, left-turn, and head-on. Because traffic in a roundabout is continuously moving rear end collisions are rare, and with the speed limit in roundabouts at approximately 20 mph the severity of crashes is diminished.

Roundabouts improve the efficiency of traffic flow by 40 percent because the traffic constantly flows. (Yes, like anywhere else, there will be an exceptional day when there is so much traffic even a roundabout is clogged up. Nothing is perfect.) Roundabouts are 75 percent safer for pedestrians because crossing distances are relatively short and traffic speeds are lower than at traditional intersections. The lower traffic speed makes single lane roundabouts safer for bicyclists as well. Driving in a single lane roundabout is quite simple, and should not be a problem in Naples where the average IQ and ability level of its residents is so far above average. Here are tips from the Center for Transportation:

Approach: Slow down to the posted speed. Yield to pedestrians and bicyclists in the crosswalk (they have the right-of-way).
Enter: Yield to vehicles in the roundabout. Wait for a gap in traffic, and merge into traffic in the roundabout in a counterclockwise direction.
Proceed: Continue through the roundabout until you reach your street, never stopping.
Exit: Signal, then exit the roundabout to your right. Again, yield to pedestrian and bicyclists in the crosswalk.
Please let me know if these directions work for you or if you have other tips that might help your neighbors navigate.

Beth Brainard is the Executive Director of Naples Pathways Coalition (NPC), a non-profit organization that works to create safe, bikeable, walkable communities in Collier County. For more information or to join, visit the NPC web site at www.naplespathways.org or contact Beth
directly at bethbrainard@naplespathways.org.

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