When my home town got its first and only round about it was a thing of mystery and intrigue reminiscent of the scene in 2001 A Space Odyssey where early hominids (Australopithecines?) meet the monolith for the first time. You could almost hear the collective ‘what do we do with it?’ Followed by a desperate scrambling for copies of the road code to take in the monumental adjustment in driving habits that would ensue.
Ten years on it’s still more like a roulette wheel but I would suggest all roundabouts are the same. Navigating them on two wheels is even more precarious, oh and then we have the pedestrian crossings at exits just to make sure total chaos reigns. It is a genius combination one that human error only exacerbates. So I have an important question for you New Zealand drivers, when and how do you indicate on a roundabout? Just a reminder, the indicators are the flashy lights that tell other road users you are turning. Not sure? Take a quick look here to refresh your memory.
The result is safety is a bit of a lottery which it shouldn’t be. We also recently changed the give way rules around turning, but this had significant advertising and promotion. Most road safety campaigns are targeted at speed and drink driving and understandably given the outcomes of both are catastrophic. But there is also unnecessary carnage created by every day poor driving and understanding of basic rules, yet nothing is done to remind people. Putting something on for a week isn’t enough – that is the metaphorical equivalent of ‘blink and you’ll miss it.’
As a cyclist – I cannot read motorists minds and will position myself in the left hand lane if going straight through a roundabout. I look at the indicators as they tell me if a car is turning left so I will wait further back. I don’t want to be hit by a car and the simple act of indicating while you are waiting helps, please do it. But the rule for cyclists are open to causing both confusion and irritation from drivers. I personally do not ‘signal left’ but point straight ahead all the way through, I point to my exit and feel this is much clearer but this isn’t the rule, so technically I am also breaking the road code.
Commuting 150km a week for the last 10 years in Auckland without having an accident has little to do with luck but a lot to do with respect, awareness, care and patience, either that or I or have a tribe of guardian angels on my pay roll. But roundabouts continue to be my number one place of ‘close calls.’
I don’t know if I am right but I hope there is a ring of truth in there for everyone.