Are you confident of when to give way and when to take your turn in a roundabout? Simon Vincett explains.
To ride a roundabout confidently you need to be assertive about taking your turn and you need to indicate clearly. Traffic can flow quickly, so you must be clear about what you’re doing. The rules are that you must give way to traffic in the roundabout coming from your right and you must not stop in the roundabout. There’s an extra rule about giving way in a double-lane roundabout that is explained later.
If you don’t feel confident, it’s a good idea to pull over the side of the road before the roundabout, dismount and walk your bike on the footpath past the intersection as a pedestrian. However, if you know how it’s done you can take you place in traffic with confidence and ride through.
As with any instance of merging and giving way, try to make eye contact with the other road users so that you both can be sure that you’ve seen each other.
The single-lane roundabout
Even if you’re turning left, you need to be careful of other vehicles trying to squeeze past when there really isn’t enough room. You need to take your turn on your own terms. So 25 metres before the roundabout (about the distance between two light poles), head check and, when clear, merge towards the middle of the main traffic lane.
By law, you don’t have to indicate left but it helps the other traffic if you clearly communicate where you’re going. Stop at the dotted line if you need to give way to traffic coming from the right.
In the roundabout, keep towards the middle of the lane. When you exit, move left when there’s a bike lane or when there’s room for other vehicles to pass.
Let’s look at riding straight through the single-lane roundabout (taking the second exit). Before the roundabout, as described above for the left-hand turn, check over your shoulder and merge towards the middle of the main traffic lane. Give way at the roundabout if necessary.
Enter and stay towards the middle of the lane as you move through. Don’t leave passing space on your left or right because you don’t want a vehicle passing you when you’re in the roundabout.
You don’t need to indicate when you’re going straight through a roundabout but it is helpful to other traffic if you can indicate left when you’re taking your exit.
When you’re out of the roundabout, move left when there’s a bike lane or enough room for another vehicle to pass.
This is the most challenging turn, just because you are occupying the roundabout for the longest time.
Twenty-five metres out, check and merge towards the middle of the main traffic lane. Indicate a right turn by holding up your right arm as you approach the roundabout. You must indicate when turning right.
Give way to traffic in the roundabout if necessary. Otherwise, you’ve now entered the roundabout indicating right and you’re about to start turning right. It’s time to put your hands back on the handlebars. Ride in the middle of the lane through the roundabout.
When you exit, move left when there’s a bike lane or when there’s room for other vehicles to pass.
Sounds easy when you put it like that? It is really, if you just indicate clearly and confidently hold your spot in the traffic flow.
The double-lane roundabout
The double-lane roundabout is challenging for bike riders to negotiate because the traffic tends to move faster and you may have to give way to traffic in the roundabout. The question to ask yourself is, “Do I need to ride this way or is there a more bike-friendly alternative I could use instead?” If you have to or want to use the double-lane roundabout, this is how it’s done.
For a left-hand turn, you stay in the left-hand lane. Move towards the middle of the left lane as you approach, at least 25 metres from the roundabout. Give way if necessary and when clear, take your spot in the outside lane of the roundabout. Exit and move across to the left when the bike lane starts or when there’s enough room for a vehicle to safely pass.
To go straight through, the process is the same as for a left-hand turn, except you remain towards the middle of the outside lane of the roundabout past the left turn exit and take the second exit instead.
This is where it gets starts to get tricky.
If there’s a vehicle in the inside lane leaving the roundabout at an exit that you are riding past, by law the bike rider must give way. The laws says “give way means the rider must slow down and, if necessary, stop to avoid a collision”.
So when you are riding straight through to take the second exit, if a car in the inside lane wants to exit at the first exit, you must give way to it.
With the right-hand turn you have the option of using the outside lane of the roundabout or the inside lane. If you choose the outside lane, you must give way to any vehicle leaving any exit you’re passing.
To use the inside lane you must do more merging, first on approach, by moving into the right hand lane, and then after you exit, to move from the right-hand lane back to the left of the left-hand lane.
For more see the Australian Road Rules, Feb 2012 version, Part 9 Roundabouts.
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