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Thread: Stuff you just don't get.

  1. #4501
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    Quote Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
    Multi-lane traffic circles / roundabouts!

    The only way into it is the outermost ring. The only way out of it is the outermost ring. To touch an inner ring, you need to cross/shift lanes inward from the outer one, then cross/shift lanes back out again... and you need to do it in such a tiny distance (from where you enter the ring to where you exit) that you're pretty much just jerking in & jerking out immediately... while on a tight curve which skews all the viewing angles behind & beside you.

    Why would anybody ever do that instead of just using the outer lane?
    Pretty standard in these parts. Outer lane for the first exit, middle lane for the next exit (usually straight ahead), inner lane for the exit beyond that. Often diagonal lane markers between exits, to step you out a lane at a time, so that you're in the outer lane as you arrive at your chosen exit.
    It means (as just happened on my way home), that three vehicles can roll forward on to the circle simultaneously when a gap in the traffic occurs, and then they peel off one at a time, from outer to inner, as they travel around the circle.
    No jerking about that I'm aware of. Just needs a little situational awareness and attention to your outer side mirror, because occasionally some plonker enters the circle in the outer lane but decides to drive on around to one of the later exits, thereby mucking up everyone else's lane discipline.
    In the UK, driving on the left, if you want to exit right then the inner lane is the obvious and shortest line around the circle; exiting left, then the outer lane is likewise the obvious and shortest line.

    Grant Hutchison
    Last edited by grant hutchison; 2021-May-03 at 04:46 PM.

  2. #4502
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    I've seen at least three different lane layouts for traffic circles being installed here in the US Midwest. I don't think there's any sort of standardization and if there is, they ignore it here.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  3. #4503
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    The same learning curve happened in France where roundabouts are getting more common. The UK rule is that traffic on the circle has priority and those entering have to give way. The rule is the same in France but conflicts with the priority from the right rule. Driving on the right, you must give way at side roads unless there are road markings. This can work well but is disastrous for foreigners and you used to see many punched in right hand side doors. In Belgium they compounded the issue by the interpretation that if the collision hits the front of the onward going vehicle, the blame is with him but if the rear half, the blame is with the entering vehicle. This encourages driving fast into the junction.

    Many more road markings have helped establish priorities but at the new roundabouts you can see drivers entering at speed, forcing those circling to slow, exerting their idea of priority a droit. The quaint suburban USA crossroad is the four way stop. I love those.

    There is no ideal system but the rounabout is great for low or medium traffic flows. It can get jammed with high flow and then we see the abomination of a roundabout plus traffic lights.
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  4. #4504
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    Yes, they've made a big difference to traffic flow hereabouts by laning a number of congested roundabouts. The ability to feed three vehicles simultaneously into the circular flow, whenever there's a gap in the circulating traffic, has significantly reduced queuing during peak travel times. They don't seem to be particularly problematic or counterintuitive for most drivers. Problems only arise when people suddenly realize they're in the wrong lane, and either attempt to exit across the circular flow, or try to continue around the circle while others are moving outwards to reach their own exit.

    Grant Hutchison

  5. #4505
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    Supposedly the idea of traffic roundabouts is that they make people more cautious, reducing the number of accidents compared to 4 way intersections. I have no idea if it works out that way in the real world.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  6. #4506
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    We don't have as many in the US although they are growing in popularity with local municipalities. So when towns install roundabouts there is always a learning curve. Like the ones we saw in Sedona, Arizona, with very nice landscaped centers and paving stones around the middle. And skid marks running through the center.

  7. #4507
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    Quote Originally Posted by schlaugh View Post
    We don't have as many in the US although they are growing in popularity with local municipalities. So when towns install roundabouts there is always a learning curve. Like the ones we saw in Sedona, Arizona, with very nice landscaped centers and paving stones around the middle. And skid marks running through the center.
    Traffic circles/roundabouts can be more efficient than cross intersections w/signals or stop signs if designed properly, but there are so many idiot drivers in the USA that they often don't work as well as they do in other countries where people actually learn to drive.

    I think they work best in lighter traffic scenarios, but that goes back to the idiot driver issue. They could work well in heavier traffic if everyone followed the rules.

  8. #4508
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    If everyone followed the rules 4-way stops would work just fine, too.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  9. #4509
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    The science says roundabouts are much safer, as well as being more efficient in keep traffic moving.

    Basically, on a roundabout the rule-breakers tend to do their damage at slower speeds, and while moving in roughly the same direction as the surrounding traffic.

    Grant Hutchison

  10. #4510
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    I once had to do two circuits of the Bastille roundabout in Central Paris to take the exit I needed. My excuse is that it was the first day I had ever driven a left hand drive car and that Parisian drivers are a somewhat strong willed bunch - to put it mildly.

  11. #4511
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    Quote Originally Posted by ozduck View Post
    I once had to do two circuits of the Bastille roundabout in Central Paris to take the exit I needed. My excuse is that it was the first day I had ever driven a left hand drive car and that Parisian drivers are a somewhat strong willed bunch - to put it mildly.
    The one around the Arc de Triomphe (Place Charles de Gaulle) is almost terrifying, and I was just a pedestrian (and pedestrians have a tunnel to get to the center, so they don't have to get smeared by the traffic).

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  12. #4512
    The reason why it is called arc de Triomphe is because it is a Triomphe to get thru it.
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  13. #4513
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    The one around the Arc de Triomphe (Place Charles de Gaulle) is almost terrifying, and I was just a pedestrian (and pedestrians have a tunnel to get to the center, so they don't have to get smeared by the traffic).

    That’s nothing. I walked through it with a German newspaper under my arm
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  14. #4514
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    In the UK, driving on the left, if you want to exit right then the inner lane is the obvious and shortest line around the circle; exiting left, then the outer lane is likewise the obvious and shortest line.
    The also makes the shortest route through a UK-right turn the one with the most lane shifts.

    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Outer lane for the first exit...
    So I'm waiting for one lane to be clear to merge into.

    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    middle lane for the next exit (usually straight ahead)...
    So I'm waiting for two lanes to be clear to merge into or cross through at the same time (or pulling into the outer lane and blocking it until the next one is clear).

    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    inner lane for the exit beyond that.
    So I'm waiting for three lanes to be clear to merge into or cross through at the same time (or pulling into one of the first two and blocking it until the next one is clear).

    I've been on a minor side-street or in a parking lot waiting for a chance to pull onto a major road. In busy traffic, it can be a long wait if all I'm trying to do is merge into the nearest lane; waiting for a chance to cross multiple lanes in heavy traffic (or pulling into one and blocking it while waiting for the next to be clear) sounds like a nightmare. (And, with the three-lane circle as you described, if the road I was coming from didn't have at least the same number of lanes as the circle, I'm also blocking everybody on the road behind me while I wait.)

    Should I just be picturing the traffic through the circle being lighter than what I'm picturing? (The last time I was at a place with three lanes in the same direction, it was a pretty continuous stream; no drivable gaps, at least not through all three lanes at once.) What would keep it that light?

  15. #4515
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    The one around the Arc de Triomphe (Place Charles de Gaulle) is almost terrifying, and I was just a pedestrian (and pedestrians have a tunnel to get to the center, so they don't have to get smeared by the traffic).
    So, you avoided Triomphe by choosing DeFeet.

  16. #4516
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    The one around the Arc de Triomphe (Place Charles de Gaulle) is almost terrifying, and I was just a pedestrian (and pedestrians have a tunnel to get to the center, so they don't have to get smeared by the traffic).
    I would never drive around that roundabout! As you said, it looks terrifying even as a pedestrian. We even saw a little bingle one time when we were there. (My spell checker didn't like 'bingle' and I now see that is apparently an Australian only slang word for a minor crash) This little bit about insurance regarding it gives an idea of its reputation - "Owing to the complexity of the road system around the Arc de Triomphe, the insurers have an agreement to settle all claims on a knock-for-knock basis, with each company bearing 50% of the total loss. This is to avoid the protracted disputes and legal challenges, which would arise when trying to determine who was at fault for the accident."

  17. #4517
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    That Parisian nightmare is only a roundabout in some abstract sense. Having had to cross it many times, the rules are quite different from any normal roundabout and change to to skilled form of controlled agression. Except during lockdown when traffic is not normal. In normal times it is full and spaces between cars are filled by large motor cycles. The gaps between those are filled by smaller motor cycles. The progress is by edging forward until the remaining tiny space can be dominated without actual contact. It is amazing and a testament to French city driving skills that actual collisions are rare. Timid foreigners can be held up a very long time. Like many animals the conflicts are stylised to establish who is dominant without damage. The vulnerable small motor cycles get through fastest and seem to have nerves of steel. Road rage is simulated and postured without actual fighting, the horn being replaced with the horn.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  18. #4518
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    Quote Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
    So I'm waiting for one lane to be clear to merge into.

    So I'm waiting for two lanes to be clear to merge into or cross through at the same time (or pulling into the outer lane and blocking it until the next one is clear).

    So I'm waiting for three lanes to be clear to merge into or cross through at the same time (or pulling into one of the first two and blocking it until the next one is clear).
    Well, you're not going to drive on to the roundabout until your lane is clear. And the outer lane is alway clear because people are peeling out of it into the street you're entering from. And their exit, across traffic entering from your right in the UK, is preventing that street from sending traffic into the roundabout. So someone coming around in the outer lane will not obstruct your entry, and will prevent people entering the middle and inner lane directly from your right (left in the US, obviously). So basically to get into the innermost lane you're waiting for someone in the outer lane coming around at the same time there's a gap in the inner lane. And it all happens slowly, so merging is easy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
    (And, with the three-lane circle as you described, if the road I was coming from didn't have at least the same number of lanes as the circle, I'm also blocking everybody on the road behind me while I wait.)
    Well, the entry roads split into the same number of lanes as surround the circle. And they make a tangential approach to the circle, so that the front person in each lane has a clear view, and a straight-line drive to join the curve of their own circular lane. So there are potential delays if you're far back in a queue on a narrow road, before it expands into the merging lanes, but frustration is rare in a well-designed system operating under its normal load--that is, for instance, you don't want a whole bunch of people queuing to turn right while left and straight ahead are clear.

    Quote Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
    Should I just be picturing the traffic through the circle being lighter than what I'm picturing?
    You seem to be picturing something approaching gridlock, with people occupying all approach lanes irrespective of the exit they're seeking, and driving on to the circle despite their exit being blocked. It's not how it works in practice. Designers don't put circles in at spots where there is massive crossing flow, and people sort themselves into the correct lanes well before they reach the circle itself.

    Grant Hutchison

  19. #4519
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Well, you're not going to drive on to the roundabout until your lane is clear. And the outer lane is alway clear because people are peeling out of it into the street you're entering from. And their exit, across traffic entering from your right in the UK, is preventing that street from sending traffic into the roundabout. So someone coming around in the outer lane will not obstruct your entry, and will prevent people entering the middle and inner lane directly from your right (left in the US, obviously). So basically to get into the innermost lane you're waiting for someone in the outer lane coming around at the same time there's a gap in the inner lane. And it all happens slowly, so merging is easy.

    Well, the entry roads split into the same number of lanes as surround the circle. And they make a tangential approach to the circle, so that the front person in each lane has a clear view, and a straight-line drive to join the curve of their own circular lane. So there are potential delays if you're far back in a queue on a narrow road, before it expands into the merging lanes, but frustration is rare in a well-designed system operating under its normal load--that is, for instance, you don't want a whole bunch of people queuing to turn right while left and straight ahead are clear.

    You seem to be picturing something approaching gridlock, with people occupying all approach lanes irrespective of the exit they're seeking, and driving on to the circle despite their exit being blocked. It's not how it works in practice. Designers don't put circles in at spots where there is massive crossing flow, and people sort themselves into the correct lanes well before they reach the circle itself.

    Grant Hutchison
    I don't know if it's a difference in lane design, driving culture, or just left-right difference, but all the things you describe as not happening, happen here in US circles on a daily basis. Blocked turn lanes, drivers cutting over, speeding, gridlock, etc.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  20. #4520
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    I don't know if it's a difference in lane design, driving culture, or just left-right difference, but all the things you describe as not happening, happen here in US circles on a daily basis. Blocked turn lanes, drivers cutting over, speeding, gridlock, etc.
    I know. It's one of several reasons we've given up on visiting the USA, to be honest. It's certainly the only place I've ever had a near-death experience in the forecourt of a petrol station. (Well, that's actually happened twice, but the first time involved a man with a rifle; only the second occasion involved a man with a car.)

    But there is never going to be a useful answer to a question of the form, "How can [x] work when no-one is using it properly?"

    Grant Hutchison

  21. #4521
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    We have two roundabouts in my town. In neither case do the side streets go anywhere in particular or have significant traffic. They're apparently just to slow down traffic on the main road. And to provide a route for U-turns, since they also put in islands to block left turns.

    Probably the first roundabout I ever encountered was a large multi-lane one in Long Beach, CA. I did about three orbits before I figured out how to get off at the correct place.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  22. #4522
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    We think they're putting one in next to Zane's school, which honestly will be nice--it's a T-junction where it's hard to make left-hand turns in either of the directions you can. But they appear to be slightly rerouting the road while in the process and steering it through what has been a vacant lot.
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  23. #4523
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    If everyone followed the rules 4-way stops would work just fine, too.
    They "work" just fine, but every car has to stop before proceeding, unlike a roundabout/traffic circle, which makes it less efficient for traffic flow.

    There's a 4 way stop near my house and I've lost count of how many times two cars perpendicular to each other will stop at the exact same time, leading to confusion as to whose turn it is.

    But then I could go into my rant about insane traffic rules, like the use of stop signs in places where yield signs would be just as safe and more efficient (no need to stop everytime), "no turn on red" on traffic signals that have no reason to be there, etc.

  24. #4524
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    Quote Originally Posted by kpatz View Post
    They "work" just fine, but every car has to stop before proceeding, unlike a roundabout/traffic circle, which makes it less efficient for traffic flow.

    There's a 4 way stop near my house and I've lost count of how many times two cars perpendicular to each other will stop at the exact same time, leading to confusion as to whose turn it is.

    But then I could go into my rant about insane traffic rules, like the use of stop signs where yield signs would be more efficient (no need to stop everytime), "no turn on red" on traffic signals, etc.
    I like four ways stops, not for their effectiveness, but as a kind of reminder of times gone by, or the triumph of regulation over self regulation. I understand that even at an empty junction, a rolling stop, i.e. just going slowly, can get you into trouble. In the USA I try to stay calm and well spaced from other traffic, partly from Old fashioned courtesy and partly from remembering how many guns are out there. The open roads away from towns are such a delight, usually empty. I think of Lake Wobegon and Garrison Keeler. And the gas price ratio from the UK.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  25. #4525
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    Quote Originally Posted by kpatz View Post
    They "work" just fine, but every car has to stop before proceeding, unlike a roundabout/traffic circle, which makes it less efficient for traffic flow.
    "Every car has to stop before proceeding" is a selling point to me. Efficiency is only one of many factors to be considered, and not always the most important one, especially in activities that involve human beings.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  26. #4526
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    Quote Originally Posted by kpatz View Post
    There's a 4 way stop near my house and I've lost count of how many times two cars perpendicular to each other will stop at the exact same time, leading to confusion as to whose turn it is.
    Vehicle to the left has to yield is (I believe) the rule throughout the US.
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  27. #4527
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    That's funny, here we say the one to your right has the right of way.

    Oh, and really like the roundabouts. More are built here now as planners seem to understand their value.

  28. #4528
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    Quote Originally Posted by SeanF View Post
    Vehicle to the left has to yield is (I believe) the rule throughout the US.
    Unless you are entering a roundabout, where the one om the right yields!
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  29. #4529
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    When I came to my first ever four way stop, in Canada, I must admit I was pretty apprehensive and it took me a while before I became slightly more relaxed. I have to admit that I am still not a big fan of them. The busiest one I came across in our trip was in Wolfville in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia and it seemed to become very congested at what counted as peak hour there. To me, a roundabout or even a set of traffic lights would have been far more effective.

    The only large roundabout I remember seeing on that trip was one on Prince William Island that was apparently pretty new and it was obvious that the locals were still coming to grips with it.

  30. #4530
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    Quote Originally Posted by SeanF View Post
    Vehicle to the left has to yield is (I believe) the rule throughout the US.
    Quote Originally Posted by Torsten View Post
    That's funny, here we say the one to your right has the right of way.
    That's true for intersections with no signage, but with poor driver education in the US and stupidity in general, I'm guessing a lot of people forget this rule. I don't think I've ever come across an intersection that didn't have a stop sign, yield sign, or signal, ever, in almost 40 years of driving.

    For 4 way stops, what I learned is whoever reaches the intersection and stops first proceeds first. Perhaps in the case of 2 cars stopping at the same time, proceeding in a clockwise direction works, but I don't know if that's an official rule/law or not in the US. The other confusing thing with 4 way stops (or even a 2 way stop) is if two cars in opposite directions stop, one wanting to go straight and one wanting to turn left, I usually assume the one going straight proceeds first, but sometimes the left turner just goes. If I'm turning left at a 4 way stop, I'll usually let the straight passer go first if we stopped at the same time.

    A rule of defensive driving is, if you're not sure, yield, regardless of which direction you're coming from. That said, when I come to an unfamilar intersection, I look to see if there are stop or yield signs in the other directions, as well as seeing if anyone is coming. Even if I have a stop sign, I see if the other directions need to stop too (not all multi-way stop intersections are marked as such).

    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Unless you are entering a roundabout, where the one om the right yields!
    True (well, specifically, those entering the circle yield to those already inside... in left hand drive countries it would be the one on the left yielding). The roundabout entrances have yield signs, since if they didn't, people would forget.
    Last edited by kpatz; 2021-May-05 at 12:15 PM.

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