Roundabouts - An Australian perspective

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Roundabouts - An Australian perspective

Postby Aushiker » Sat Jan 12, 2013 7:11 pm

An interesting blog post by a Perth cyclist and forum member on roundabouts ... worth a read in my view.

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Roundabouts are one of my least preferred traffic calming devices. They have become increasing popular with our road designers and are spreading like a disease throughout Perth.

Why am I against roundabouts? The Urban Country presents a logical argument and backs it up with facts from the website of the Town of Collingwood, Ontario. I do not dispute them, however there is a problem with how roundabouts are designed in Western Australia. The roundabouts shown in Ontario have pedestrian crossings. This is possible in Western Australia but extremely rare. Our roundabouts create conditions that are worse for pedestrians and cyclists.


The full blog posting can be found at Bicycle Perth.

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by BNA » Sat Jan 12, 2013 7:18 pm

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Re: Roundabouts - An Australian perspective

Postby Riggsbie » Sat Jan 12, 2013 7:18 pm

They work well if you know how to drive ;-)




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Re: Roundabouts - An Australian perspective

Postby Riggsbie » Sat Jan 12, 2013 7:21 pm

And actually have some interest and enthusiasm for driving rather than driving "because I have to...." or "because I need to..."


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Re: Roundabouts - An Australian perspective

Postby il padrone » Sat Jan 12, 2013 7:51 pm

I do see where the blogger is coming from. If we would adopt the European style of roundabout design, particularly in our city streets and residential streets we would see a much safer road environment for cyclists and pedestrians.

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Re: Roundabouts - An Australian perspective

Postby human909 » Sat Jan 12, 2013 9:54 pm

I am a big fan of roundabouts. However they do need special thought and consideration when they are used in high traffic flow environments especially if there are lots of pedestrians. As a cyclist I don't see a problem with roundabouts. The big ones on high speed roads can be problematic. But high speed road intersections are rarely nice for cyclists anyway!
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Re: Roundabouts - An Australian perspective

Postby Riggsbie » Sat Jan 12, 2013 10:20 pm

Just google "magic roundabout in Swindon" or "near Basildon".....

If the Poms can figure them out, how hard can it be ? I guess driver training needs to include some training ;-)


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Re: Roundabouts - An Australian perspective

Postby tubby74 » Sun Jan 13, 2013 11:08 pm

most australian drivers seem to believe the rule on roundabouts is give way to the right, hence they barrel through at unsafe speeds thinking everyone else better get out of the way. If they actually followed the give way to traffic on the roundabout they would have to approach at a far more senisble speed. Many driving instructors teach this incorrectly, one of the current affairs shows had a section on roundabouts and even their expect didn't know the rules. As a calming device they are highly ineffective due to this.

In my suburb the main road is a divided road, one lane each way plus a bike lane. However the bike lanes continue right up to the give way lines on the roundabout, even curving outwards at the end. This gives the impression that i's fine for cars to try and overtake on the roundabout, and some cyclists seem to think this as well. Just one more example of road designers who do not understand what creates a cycling hazard
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Re: Roundabouts - An Australian perspective

Postby wellington_street » Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:39 am

Can't agree with most of that blog post at all, particularly complaining that the bicycle lane (actually a sealed shoulder) ends before the roundabout. This cyclist obviously doesn't understand the need to take the lane through the roundabout.

For small suburban roundabouts, the impacts on pedestrians are negligible. For cyclists making turns the safety benefits are huge. The poster also doesn't seem to understand the road rules as he/she claims that the pedestrians are illegally crossing through the roundabout.

Happy to provide further critiques if he/she is reading this thread.
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Re: Roundabouts - An Australian perspective

Postby Aushiker » Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:14 pm

wellington_street wrote:For small suburban roundabouts, the impacts on pedestrians are negligible. For cyclists making turns the safety benefits are huge. The poster also doesn't seem to understand the road rules as he/she claims that the pedestrians are illegally crossing through the roundabout.


Based on my experience of riding up the coast from Fremantle to Joondalup where I go through a few of these so called "suburban roundabouts" each way on a regular basis, they are a significant problem and one of the worst aspects of my ride. The problems in my experience are the approach and drivers trying to "beat me to the roundabout". Claiming the lane is all very well and nice but does not always stop drivers still trying to pass.

Also there at times other issues with roundabouts. With the Trig Beach roundabout for example it is very common to have drivers suddenly realise (if you are lucky) that you are actually there or coming into the roundabout at a point where they should give way ... I have lost count of the number who come to a stop in the roundabout, i.e., after the white line. BTW they are the better ones. With this roundabout all the lane claiming in the world is not going to change anything here, even through going wide on the approach increases ones visibility.



As to the comment about pedestrians and roundabouts, the writer is referring to the lack of protection in the law that applies specifically to roundabouts. Whilst there is a requirement to give-way to pedestrians at intersections and this is specifically defined in the Code it is my understanding that this requirement does apply to roundabouts unless of course there are pedestrian crossings at them such as in Fremantle. Therefore I believe and this has come up in other fora in respect to pedestrians as well that the blogger has it right from my reading of their post and my understanding of the WA Road Traffic Code. Of course happy to be shown otherwise in the Code as I may have missed the relevant regulation.

Here are a few videos of my fun at roundabouts:




BTW the approach to this roundabout is quite wide ... all the lane claiming in the world does not help sometimes. Of course this is a "bigger" roundabout so does not fit the suburban description.


This is the latest one, but the camera ended the first file at the critical moment so not so clear as to what happened, which was the bus was merging into me to make the suburban roundabout.

and yes I do believe in claiming the lane and sometimes I am not doing it as well as I should however I do not see it as the panacea for cyclists at roundabouts.



BTW at the Freo Bug meeting this week we had a discussion about roundabouts and in particular the roundabout at Wray Avenue/South Terrace, Fremantle which is meant to be an improved cyclist friendly design. The barmaid at the pub where we where meeting commented on the roundabout ... it scares her. She is a what I would describe as an everyday "transport rider." If we want to encourage all riding then roundabout treatments need attention in my view.

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Last edited by Aushiker on Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Roundabouts - An Australian perspective

Postby sogood » Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:36 pm

Andrew, your clips demonstrated once again that the speed differential and misjudgement of which is a major problem when bikes are mixed in general traffic. I think that both education and experience will make a difference. Then there'll always be those who ignores everything. Ride defensively!
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Re: Roundabouts - An Australian perspective

Postby simonn » Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:58 pm

wellington_street wrote:Can't agree with most of that blog post at all, particularly complaining that the bicycle lane (actually a sealed shoulder) ends before the roundabout. This cyclist obviously doesn't understand the need to take the lane through the roundabout.


The problem is that bicycle lanes end too near to the roundabout to encourage proper merging. You can of course merge earlier than where the lane ends, but the markings encourage you not to and the law says you are meant to use the lane which further discourages the less brave from doing this.

For small suburban roundabouts, the impacts on pedestrians are negligible.


A driver must give way to a pedestrian when turning into a road. This is not the case with a roundabout. Ergo, the onus is on the pedestrian to avoid cars, not the other way around. There's your impact.
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Re: Roundabouts - An Australian perspective

Postby wellington_street » Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:05 pm

Aushiker wrote:Based on my experience of riding up the coast from Fremantle to Joondalup where I go through a few of these so called "suburban roundabouts" each way on a regular basis, they are a significant problem and one of the worst aspects of my ride. The problems in my experience are the approach and drivers trying to "beat me to the roundabout". Claiming the lane is all very well and nice but does not always stop drivers still trying to pass.

Also there at times other issues with roundabouts. With the Trig Beach roundabout for example it is very common to have drivers suddenly realise (if you are lucky) that you are actually there or coming into the roundabout at a point where they should give way ... I have lost count of the number who come to a stop in the roundabout, i.e., after the white line. BTW they are the better ones. With this roundabout all the lane claiming in the world is not going to change anything here, even through going wide on the approach increases ones visibility.


It is a driver behaviour issue. If you are claiming the lane and behaving as a vehicle through the intersection, what else can you do as a cyclist? It is the drivers who are not obeying the law.

If you are travelling straight through on the road with priority then you might feel safer using a t-junction arrangement. However that doesn't help cyclists wanting to make turns or to go straight through on the road which must give way. A roundabout, when designed and used properly, is far superior.

The coastal route is not the best example of typical suburban roundabouts either as it carries pretty high volumes of traffic.

Aushiker wrote:As to the comment about pedestrians and roundabouts, the writer is referring to the lack of protection in the law that applies specifically to roundabouts. Whilst there is a requirement to give-way to pedestrians at intersections and this is specifically defined in the Code it is my understanding that this requirement does apply to roundabouts unless of course there are pedestrian crossings at them such as in Fremantle. Therefore I believe and this has come up in other fora in respect to pedestrians as well that the blogger has it right from my reading of their post and my understanding of the WA Road Traffic Code. Of course happy to be shown otherwise in the Code as I may have missed the relevant regulation.


My comment was in reference to this:

Image
The majority of younger pedestrians ignore these new paths and cross illegally through the roundabout.


Clearly the writer needs to brush up on his/her road rule knowledge if he/she things that is illegal.

and yes I do believe in claiming the lane and sometimes I am not doing it as well as I should however I do not see it as the panacea for cyclists at roundabouts.


What is the alternative? Behaving as a vehicle gives you the best chance of being seen and given way to by other vehicles. Is there any evidence to show that compliance with the oft-cited Dutch arrangement (essentially cycle priority crossings on each entry/exit) would be any better? The angle of observance from drivers at the crossings would indicate to me that SMIDSY would be a lot more common.

They do work in The Netherlands but that's because the driver behaviour is infinitely better than here. Without addressing the behaviour issue, nothing short of grade-separation will remove the risk of conflicts. And if you do solve the behaviour issue then behaving as a vehicle through the roundabout becomes a lot safer.

BTW at the Freo Bug meeting this week we had a discussion about roundabouts and in particular the roundabout at Wray Avenue/South Terrace, Fremantle which is meant to be an improved cyclist friendly design. The barmaid at the pub where we where meeting commented on the roundabout ... it scares her. She is a what I would describe as an everyday "transport rider." If we want to encourage all riding then roundabout treatments need attention in my view.

Image


The roundabout circulating lane is far too open for my liking, however it is unavoidable due to the angle of the intersection and the need to accommodate the swept paths of buses and service trucks. I also don't like the southern approach having a cycle lane which just disappears at the entry to the roundabout - that's just asking for conflicts with vehicles exiting into Howard Street.

Aside from what I just mentioned - what else would you do? How are similar intersections treated in The Netherlands?

I suspect the barmaid is scared of the roundabout as she isn't comfortable with:
(a) how to use roundabouts (i.e. claiming the lane) and
(b) riding as a vehicle in mixed traffic
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Re: Roundabouts - An Australian perspective

Postby wellington_street » Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:08 pm

simonn wrote:
wellington_street wrote:Can't agree with most of that blog post at all, particularly complaining that the bicycle lane (actually a sealed shoulder) ends before the roundabout. This cyclist obviously doesn't understand the need to take the lane through the roundabout.


The problem is that bicycle lanes end too near to the roundabout to encourage proper merging. You can of course merge earlier than where the lane ends, but the markings encourage you not to and the law says you are meant to use the lane which further discourages the less brave from doing this.


A very good point. What do you suggest is the optimum merge location?

simonn wrote:
For small suburban roundabouts, the impacts on pedestrians are negligible.


A driver must give way to a pedestrian when turning into a road. This is not the case with a roundabout. Ergo, the onus is on the pedestrian to avoid cars, not the other way around. There's your impact.


Driver compliance with the requirement to give way to pedestrians when turning is very low. Also, at a typical suburban street roundabout, the volumes of traffic and pedestrians are so low that the delay is negligible. These two factors combined create the 'negligible impact' in real terms that I was referring to.

Where there's high volumes of traffic or pedestrians then the zebra crossings should be used. However, this only applies to a small percentage of roundabouts.
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Re: Roundabouts - An Australian perspective

Postby il padrone » Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:29 pm

wellington_street wrote:Where there's high volumes of traffic or pedestrians then the zebra crossings should be used. However, this only applies to a small percentage of roundabouts.

In my experience, in suburban Melbourne, this would apply to a rather large proportion of roundabouts, especially in suburban district centres. The key problem is.... it simply is not done. :|

Take this one, right outside our major regional hospital. Provision for pedestrians is zip. And there are many others like this in the area.
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Re: Roundabouts - An Australian perspective

Postby wellington_street » Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:32 pm

Fair point - I'll admit I had my Perth blinkers on when compiling that post :D
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Re: Roundabouts - An Australian perspective

Postby Aushiker » Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:35 pm

wellington_street wrote:It is a driver behaviour issue. If you are claiming the lane and behaving as a vehicle through the intersection, what else can you do as a cyclist? It is the drivers who are not obeying the law.


Not a lot the cyclist can do specifically but we can lobby for improved infrastructure, we can lobby for better roundabout designs, we can lobby for design of roundabouts that actually slow the traffic down as it approaches and instead of have them designed high speed chicanes. For what it is worth this particular post has started a constructive discussion with the engineers at the City of Fremantle. Who knows, but that might just result in better designed roundabouts in the future. At least it is getting them thinking.

The coastal route is not the best example of typical suburban roundabouts either as it carries pretty high volumes of traffic.


That is okay then ... :wink:

Image
The majority of younger pedestrians ignore these new paths and cross illegally through the roundabout.


Clearly the writer needs to brush up on his/her road rule knowledge if he/she things that is illegal.


In that case, here is a thought, politely let them know via their blog. You can leave a comment maybe clarifying your understanding of the law. Shouldn't be too hard, no?

and yes I do believe in claiming the lane and sometimes I am not doing it as well as I should however I do not see it as the panacea for cyclists at roundabouts.


What is the alternative? Behaving as a vehicle gives you the best chance of being seen and given way to by other vehicles. Is there any evidence to show that compliance with the oft-cited Dutch arrangement (essentially cycle priority crossings on each entry/exit) would be any better? The angle of observance from drivers at the crossings would indicate to me that SMIDSY would be a lot more common.


Improved design to slow down the entry ... markings to show cyclists should be in the lane and so on. Nothing is going to work 100% but expecting all cyclists to "claim the lane" is not a solution in my view; sure it helps but it is not a 100% solution. Claiming the lane is fine for experienced and/or confident cyclists but not everyone is and a lot will simply not do what you want them to; my partner for starters wouldn't so instead her bike gets used as a clothes rack as she is not confident on the road.

The barmaid is a getting out there like lots of people do in Fremantle and a lot of work is going on/planned to improve the cycling experience but I am not convinced that lecturing her/them to "claim the lane" is a solution in its own right. We need as experienced cyclists to engage with these riders too, just as we need education programs, we need infrastructure.

Sure she may get there in time to be an experienced cyclist but I suspect she will not become a roadie or whatever, cycling for her is about the ride to work, to the shops etc so we need a more constructive engaging approach in my view.

The roundabout circulating lane is far too open for my liking, however it is unavoidable due to the angle of the intersection and the need to accommodate the swept paths of buses and service trucks. I also don't like the southern approach having a cycle lane which just disappears at the entry to the roundabout - that's just asking for conflicts with vehicles exiting into Howard Street.


Actually for cyclists heading north it works quite well most of the time as the motor vehicle traffic is slowed down by traffic calming giving the cyclists a "head start into the roundabout'. Not a perfect solution but much better than what was there and what could have been built IMO.

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Re: Roundabouts - An Australian perspective

Postby simonn » Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:38 pm

wellington_street wrote:
simonn wrote:
wellington_street wrote:Can't agree with most of that blog post at all, particularly complaining that the bicycle lane (actually a sealed shoulder) ends before the roundabout. This cyclist obviously doesn't understand the need to take the lane through the roundabout.


The problem is that bicycle lanes end too near to the roundabout to encourage proper merging. You can of course merge earlier than where the lane ends, but the markings encourage you not to and the law says you are meant to use the lane which further discourages the less brave from doing this.


A very good point. What do you suggest is the optimum merge location?




Driver training would be the optimum place to start... :)

I reckon 5-6 car lengths back at least.

wellington_street wrote:
simonn wrote:
For small suburban roundabouts, the impacts on pedestrians are negligible.


A driver must give way to a pedestrian when turning into a road. This is not the case with a roundabout. Ergo, the onus is on the pedestrian to avoid cars, not the other way around. There's your impact.


Driver compliance with the requirement to give way to pedestrians when turning is very low. Also, at a typical suburban street roundabout, the volumes of traffic and pedestrians are so low that the delay is negligible. These two factors combined create the 'negligible impact' in real terms that I was referring to.


It is not really the delay that I think is the problem. It is the fact that there is a too much of an underlying focus on motor vehicle throughput rather than the safety of everyone, particularly cyclists and pedestrians which, in Australia, seem to be not even an afterthought.

If I was a benevolent dictator (I'd prefer Monarch, but hey, beggars etc) your average suburban street would have a speed limit of 30km/h max and people would be polite to other road users (which partially means following the rules) so this discussion would be redundant.

wellington_street wrote:Where there's high volumes of traffic or pedestrians then the zebra crossings should be used. However, this only applies to a small percentage of roundabouts.


Hmmm.... I know of at least one case where a zebra crossing was removed because "it" caused too many accidents (i.e. drivers were not paying attention and rear ending each other). I cannot remember off hand, but the RTA standards for zebra crossings result in there not being many of them .
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Re: Roundabouts - An Australian perspective

Postby Aushiker » Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:43 pm

wellington_street wrote:Where there's high volumes of traffic or pedestrians then the zebra crossings should be used. However, this only applies to a small percentage of roundabouts.


They are in Fremantle and they seem to not work well. Interesting the issues with them have come up again by non-cyclists in the local paper in the past few weeks. The persons commenting BTW where from a pedestrian's perspective.

I walked through town last Saturday and used two of these roundabouts a few times. Every-time I had a motorist either trying to push through in frustration or missing the crossing because they are focusing on the motor vehicles or stopping on the crossing meaning I had to walk around them.

In all honestly the solution for Fremantle is probably more drastic (move the cars out of the CBD :)) or at least put in traffic calming and raise the pedestrian crossings, so these types of roundabouts may work in other situations, just not so well here in Freo with the current design.

Edit: I think one suggestion was to move the crossing back from the roundabout. Not sure that will work but give the nature pedestrian flow.

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Re: Roundabouts - An Australian perspective

Postby il padrone » Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:49 pm

simonn wrote:Hmmm.... I know of at least one case where a zebra crossing was removed because "it" caused too many accidents (i.e. drivers were not paying attention and rear ending each other). I cannot remember off hand, but the RTA standards for zebra crossings result in there not being many of them .

I did rather love this zebra crossing in Apollo Bay. On a busy summer Saturday morning, with a farmer's market operating in the park, the traffic could barely get through for the streams of pedestrians going to and fro almost continuously

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Re: Roundabouts - An Australian perspective

Postby il padrone » Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:52 pm

Aushiker wrote:I walked through town last Saturday and used two of these roundabouts a few times. Every-time I had a motorist either trying to push through in frustration or missing the crossing because they are focusing on the motor vehicles or stopping on the crossing meaning I had to walk around them.

In all honestly the solution for Fremantle is probably more drastic (move the cars out of the CBD :)) or at least put in traffic calming and raise the pedestrian crossings, so these types of roundabouts may work in other situations, just not so well here in Freo with the current design.

In an ideal world 8)

Here
Image

and here
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Re: Roundabouts - An Australian perspective

Postby Aushiker » Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:56 pm

il padrone wrote:In an ideal world 8)


In Freo they are considering options which in part will come close to that shown in the photos. Raising the pedestrian crossings for starters can have a similar effect, well for the peds at least. You are not allowed to ride on the footpaths in the main and honestly around town I wouldn't want to anyway.

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Re: Roundabouts - An Australian perspective

Postby il padrone » Thu Jan 17, 2013 2:13 pm

From a useful article on the new European approach to urban traffic, the outline of Hans Monderman's design principles (mostly these need to work together):

Modernman’s design principles:

1. Remove signs: The architecture of the road – not signs and signals – dictates traffic flow.

2. Install art: The height of the fountain indicates how congested the intersection is.

3. Share the spotlight: Lights illuminate not only the roadbed, but also the pedestrian areas.

4. Do it in the road: Caf�s extend to the edge of the street, further emphasizing the idea of shared space.

5. See eye to eye: Right-of-way is negotiated by human interaction, rather than commonly ignored signs.

6. Eliminate curbs: Instead of a raised curb, sidewalks are denoted by texture and color.


By this approach cars are kept out of pedestrian areas not by kerbs, but by paving texture & colour, useage by pedestrian activities (eg. cafes) and the uncertainty of a sign-free street - turning the street into a lounge room.
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Re: Roundabouts - An Australian perspective

Postby Wakatuki » Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:38 am

il padrone wrote:In an ideal world 8)

Here
Image

and here
Image

I really do miss this, would be nice to feel the wind cooling my head while out for a social ride too, while I have some, hair that is. The little saunters along country lanes hitting about 20k's then freewheeling and enjoying it.

But I do see that 95% of road user in QLD alone think traffic Islands are the work of a rocket scientist, indicator for straight on, or none at all when actually turning. ROAD eductaion is not strict enough. I was treated well by all road users today, a truck with a wide load was fantastic, he waited behind me until after the blind left turn instead of trying to dash past and cutting me off at the corner, I stuck my thumb up after the bend he gave a toot and passed real wide, the following ute did the same. Unfortunately its just the minority that normally leave a lasting impression. This should be the norm, but kudos where due.
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Re: Roundabouts - An Australian perspective

Postby Puffy » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:43 pm

tubby74 wrote:most australian drivers seem to believe the rule on roundabouts is give way to the right, hence they barrel through at unsafe speeds thinking everyone else better get out of the way.


You are right. The rule is to give way to traffic already on the round-about but traffic on the round-about, is on the right as you approach. :?:
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Re: Roundabouts - An Australian perspective

Postby zero » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:50 pm

IMO the law should be changed to make any road authority that is responsible for any roundabout with less than 2 pedestrian crossings over the entrance throats be made directly responsible and liable for all pedestrian injuries occurring at said roundabouts.

I also think that any road authority responsible for painting a bicycle lane inside of a roundabout should be disbanded immediately, and their road designers barred from working in the industry again, after a suitable period of being hung from a yard arm by their genitals.
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