Safety guidelines for roundabouts presented during construction information session
Story and photo by Lori C. Adler, reporter
As construction on the new roundabout begins, many area residents are a bit nervous about this new addition to Rhinelander, especially those with little or no experience navigating roundabouts. An informational session regarding the new roundabout was held Wednesday at Rhinelander City Hall. While representatives of WisDOT outlined the construction schedule and planned detour routes, Andy Dana of Ayres Associates presented some general safety rules and guidelines regarding roundabouts.
Dana explained that roundabouts are much safer than traditional intersections. Roundabouts reduce the number of conflict points in the intersection. Conflict points are areas where one car crosses another, such as lane changes and left-hand turns. While accidents do happen in roundabouts, they are far less severe because they are side swipes rather than “t-bone” crashes. Dana also explained that single-lane roundabouts, like the one being constructed in Rhinelander, are the safest due to no sudden lane changes.
Navigating the roundabout is simple. Proceed in a counter-clockwise direction. Vehicles already in the circle have the right-of-way. Stay on the main pavement as the areas marked in red are for long vehicles such as semi trucks. Give the big trucks some extra room as well since they do not have the same turning radius as a car.
If in the roundabout when an emergency vehicle such as an ambulance or fire truck approaches, do not stop in the roundabout as this will block the emergency vehicle. Instead, continue through the roundabout, and once outside of the circle, pull to the side and stop.
When approaching the Rhinelander roundabout, pay attention to the signs. Overhead signs are used where there are multiple lanes entering the roundabout to indicate the proper lane of travel depending upon destination. In Rhinelander, overhead signs will be located on US Hwy 8 and Kemp Street. Other signs indicating where to exit the roundabout will also be present.
Since there is a bike trail nearby, Dana outlined bicycling rules regarding the roundabout. Bicyclists will use the paved shoulders before and after the roundabout, but while in the circle, they will take a lane. When riding a bicycle through the roundabout, ride in the center of the lane and proceed just as a car would. Using the center of the lane will decrease the chance that a car will try to go around the cyclist.
While there will be no regulatory speed specifically for the roundabout in Rhinelander, an advisory speed of 15 or 20 miles per hour will be posted. For further safety enhancement, new lighting will be added to the intersection to increase nighttime visibility.
Once Dana completed his presentation, he answered a few questions. Overall, however, residents seemed much more at ease regarding the new roundabout. Construction on the roundabout begins in about a week and is expected to be completed by October.