Friday, January 26, 2018

The roundabout also goes 'round and 'round

By Al Gilson

The wheels on the bus (or cars, trucks, and motorcycles) go 'round and 'round. That's both a great kids song and how a roundabout at a busy intersection is supposed to work. Yes, when the vehicles already in the roundabout are going 'round and 'round, the drivers who are about to enter the circle need to wait until it's clear to enter.

We'll say it again: You must yield to vehicles already inside the circle. Wait for a gap, then you can enter. Drivers already inside the roundabout circle should never have to stop for an entering vehicle.

Drivers using our first multi-lane roundabout on US 2 near Fairchild Air Force Base just west of Spokane are still getting used to the new intersection. Often the issue is drivers ignoring the yield signs and cruising into the circle, forcing drivers already in the roundabout to stop. This creates a chain reaction that creates problems.

Just as important as those outside the roundabout, it's important for those in the roundabout to remember that when you see vehicles approaching from the right, you don't have to stop for them. They're supposed to stop for you. Stopping within the roundabout also impacts the flow.

When both those inside and outside the roundabout understand and follow those rules, traffic maintains an even, safe flow.

Built to provide access to the new Spokane Tribe Casino, drivers started using the US 2 roundabout in early November 2017. At that point, there was no side-street traffic to yield to and people became used to that. But when the casino opened on January 8, vehicles are now entering from the casino drive and those not accustomed to the extra traffic are getting confused. So now is a great time to refresh yourself on the roundabout rules. When everyone in that area understands and follows the roundabout rules, everyone continues to move safely through.