How to Drive Roundabouts Safely in BC

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Roundabouts are successfully used all over the world, by millions of people every day; however, the appearance of roundabouts in our province over the last ten years has given rise to countless questions on how to use them properly. Because our goal here at TranBC is to help you understand the why and the how of transportation in British Columbia, we reviewed your most frequently asked roundabout questions and collected the best answers.

When can I enter a roundabout?

At roundabouts, you won’t see stop signs or traffic lights because of these two golden rules:

  • Yield to traffic in the roundabout, before entering.
  • Turn right to enter the roundabout and keep moving counter-clockwise.

In a multi-lane roundabout which lane should I be in?

Typically, you should look at a roundabout as they would any other signalized intersection.
Would you turn left from the right lane at a signal? So, if you want to turn left, the left lane is where you want to be. Another important rule to remember is that you should never change lanes within a roundabout. Instead, look at the signs (and pavement markings) in advance that show which lane to use. Pick the correct lane in advance of the roundabout and follow it through. You choose your lane in a multi-lane roundabout the same way you would in a traditional multi-lane intersection. To go straight or right, get in the right lane and to go straight or left, get in the left lane.

Should I signal when I enter the roundabout, when I exit the roundabout, or both?

Signals are great things and we are obviously big fans. ICBC recommends activating your right turn signal when leaving the roundabout.

This lets drivers waiting to enter the roundabout and pedestrians waiting to cross, know your intentions.

Do I stop for pedestrians in the roundabout?

Yes. If you look at the image above, you will see that pedestrian crosswalks are actually located outside of the traffic circle itself (approximately one car length outside of the roundabout).

If you are a pedestrian crossing the roundabout, always use the marked crosswalks. Just like crossing any road, wait for a gap in traffic, or until all vehicles are stopped.  Don’t cross to the centre island.

How do bicycles fit into the picture?

Cyclists travelling inside the roundabout are allowed full use of their chosen lane and should be treated as a vehicle. Cyclists have two choices when moving through a roundabout, depending on their level of comfort riding in traffic:

  1. Ride with traffic. In advance of the roundabout, merge with traffic when safe, occupy the lane and proceed as a vehicle, or
  2. Use a separated cycling pathway. Prior to the roundabout, exit the bike lane and share the pedestrian pathway with pedestrians. Reduce your speed and be aware of pedestrians when entering onto and travelling along the pathway. Dismount and use the marked crosswalks to cross the intersecting streets, as a pedestrian would and then exit the raised pathway at the ramp that leads down to the bike lane or shoulder of the road.

Roundabouts. The very mention of this word can create panic and confusion in some drivers’ minds. But it doesn’t have to! We hope this has helped to clarify any confusion.

If you’d like to find out more, ICBC’s guide to roundabouts is also a great resource. Any questions we haven’t answered here? Leave your question in the comments below. Happy trails!

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