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Cycling in Roundabouts

David Hembrow posts a video called Roundabout with Safe Cycling Facilities in The Netherlands. It’s standard practice in The Netherlands to provide a bicycle circulating lane on all roundabouts, separated by small curbs.


Here in the U.S., .this type of design is strongly discouraged by every set of roundabout guidelines I’ve ever seen. The reasons generally are as follows:

  • U.S. Cycling behavior is different
  • U.S. driving behavior is different
  • Lower bicycle mode share


1 comment to Cycling in Roundabouts

  • I keep ending up back on your site, Reuben! After being yelled at for bicycling (in my best Effective Cycling behavior) through the Portland/66 roundabout, I was googling best practices and came across this post. I agree that the separation would probably be less safe at a Minnesotan roundabout, but I think this is another example where American engineering might be providing the “safest” option, but completely fail to establish the legitimacy of the biker or ped. (The same thinking that blacks out crosswalks for “safety”.) At the roundabout in the video, it’s very obvious where bikers should go, and it’s very obvious that they’re welcome.

    Now in the 66th St roundabouts, I think I know where I’m supposed to go (in the middle of the appropriate lane, making sure nobody is trying to pass me), but that’s not really intuitive and clearly was not intuitive to the woman who was so offended by my cycling. This lack of clarity has an impact on safety, too: were it not for the internet telling me to take the lane, my instinct would probably be to ride on the very edge, allowing cars to pass (unsafe); or riding through the crosswalk (maybe safe, depending on how fast, but inefficient for the roundabout). The failure to communicate a cyclist’s right to take the lane in the roundabout could ultimately lead to less-safe behavior.

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