Now that roundabouts are part of North Union Street, it is important to recognize that this new street configuration is designed to accommodate cars, pedestrians AND bicyclists. The fact is, roundabouts are safer than other intersection designs, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, because they slow traffic and reduce the number of conflict points in an intersection. Another plus of roundabouts is that they reduce municipal maintenance costs related to upkeep of and electricity for traffic signals. [i]
Cyclists may either enter the roundabout as a vehicle or dismount and use the pathway/sidewalk around the perimeter of the roundabout. If you are not comfortable riding through a roundabout, it is perfectly acceptable to get off your bike and walk on the sidewalk as a pedestrian.
Here are some tips for bicyclists entering a roundabout:
- Adjust your speed as you approach the entrance to the circle. If the circle is free of oncoming traffic, proceed. If traffic is in the circle and you cannot adjust your speed accordingly, stop before the entrance of the circle to yield to the traffic (just like cars).
- Riders who enter the roundabout as a vehicle must follow the same rules as vehicles. Cyclists are required to follow all signs and pavement markings, and to yield to both pedestrians and vehicles already circulating within the roundabout.
- Be assertive when merging with traffic…sit up on your bike to be seen.
- Riders should try to travel at approximately the same speed as motorists within the roundabout. Cyclists should ride in the center of the lane, not along the curb line.
- Move through the circle quickly, and you want to be visible to all vehicles at the other entrances to the circle as well as those that may have entered after you. ATTEMPT TO MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH ANY MOTORISTS WHO ARE YIELDING AT OTHER ENTRANCES TO THE CIRCLE.
- Be sure to use proper hand signals when exiting the roundabout.
- Exit the roundabout where your route requires, continuing to ride the middle of the lane of traffic outside the roundabout until you feel safe to move to the side of the lane.[ii]
The key to safe bicycling (or for that matter driving and walking) in a roundabout is to always be aware of your surroundings and adhere to the rules of the road. Perhaps most important, for both driver and bicyclists, is to be courteous. Sharing the road and maintaining proper speeds will make the experience that much more enjoyable.
We encourage the community to stay apprised of the project and impacts on traffic through our Walkable Olean Facebook page (Facebook.com/walkableolean) or through the website at www.walkableolean.com.
For additional information, please contact the Olean City Public Works Department at 716.376.5651.