In addition to bikes and beer, Bend is also well known for its traffic roundabouts. The 31 roundabouts in Bend house public art and native landscaping, making them attractive traffic controlling devices.
Roundabouts also serve to move traffic more efficiently and create safer intersections for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. A U.S. Department of Transportation study shows that after roundabouts were installed in studied intersections, there was a 37 percent reduction for all crashes and 51 percent reduction for injury crashes.
Robin Lewis, transportation engineer for the City of Bend, points out that after extensive studying of roundabout crashes in Bend, “we can say that while there have been crashes at roundabouts, they are less severe and less frequent than the signals.”
All transportation modes can safely use roundabouts and reduce user conflict by understanding the proper ways to navigate a roundabout.
There are two options for a cyclist to use a roundabout. You first need to decide if you are going to act as a car or pedestrian.
If you choose to act like a car:
• As you approach the roundabout and the bike lane merges into the driving lane, look over your left shoulder for an acceptable gap in traffic.
• Signal and change lanes, merging left into the middle of the lane before the crosswalk.
• Once in the lane, watch for and yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.
• Monitor your speed and choose an acceptable gap to enter the roundabout.
• Once in the roundabout, keep your speed to 15mph or under. This is the speed limit in a roundabout.
• Stay in the middle of the lane until you are ready to exit the roundabout.
• Never overtake another vehicle or bicycle while in the roundabout.
• Signal and take the appropriate exit.
• Signal and merge back into the bike lane when there is a safe gap to do so.
If you choose to act like a pedestrian:
• Before you reach the roundabout, look to the right for the bike ramp to access the sidewalk.
• After entering the sidewalk, get off and walk your bike.
• Use the crosswalks, walking your bike, to cross the lanes.
• Cross in two stages, using the splitter island.
• Take the sidewalk ramp back down to the driving lane and enter bike lane while riding your bike.
Use the sidewalks and crosswalks to safely cross roundabouts. Cross in two stages — one lane at a time — using the splitter islands to check both lanes for vehicles.
Key things for motorists to be aware of to reduce bicyclist and pedestrian conflict:
• Choose a safe gap for entering the roundabout.
• Look for bicyclists in the lane and pedestrians in the crosswalk.
• Keep your speed 15mph or under.
• Never overtake a bicyclist while in a roundabout.
Jeff Monson, Executive Director for Commute Options adds, “When a bike rider enters a roundabout they need to signal and move left into the travel lane way in advance—100 feet or more before the crosswalk. Also be sure to make eye contact with drivers that are waiting to enter the roundabout if you are continuing around.”
Commute Options promotes choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information, contact Executive Director, Jeff Monson at 541-330-2647 or visit www.commuteoptions.org.
Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend. www.katybryce.com.