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Multilane roundabout rules

Started by Tom958, May 27, 2024, 07:20:03 PM

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Tom958

Somehow, despite my years as a roadgeek and in particular despite my interest in multilane roundabouts, I didn't realize until this weekend that there are two differing conventions as to how multilane roundabouts should operate. One, used in the US and (I think) the rest of the English-speaking world, holds that two or more lanes can exit the roundabout at any given exit depending on the signage and pavement markings. The other, which is used in Spain and I'm not sure where else, holds that drivers may exit the roundabout only from the outside lanes, and that the other lanes are basically used only for passing. This Spanish article includes written directions and an animated diagram.

Before this veers off topic: I'm curious as to which countries follow which convention. I don't know if there are specific terms for each scheme, but for convenience, we can call them single-lane versus multilane exits.


kalvado

I don't think it is a convention per se. This is a "modern roundabout" or "turbo roundabout" vs more traditional traffic circle.
Apparently, if two lanes may exit, outer lane becomes exit-only. That quickly translates into lanes having beginning and end within the circle, and change of operation concept.
As far as I understand, modern roundabout keep spreading worldwide as they are better (well, less bad mostly) than a traditional circle design.

Tom958

Quote from: kalvado on May 27, 2024, 08:53:05 PMI don't think it is a convention per se. This is a "modern roundabout" or "turbo roundabout" vs more traditional traffic circle.
Apparently, if two lanes may exit, outer lane becomes exit-only. That quickly translates into lanes having beginning and end within the circle, and change of operation concept.
As far as I understand, modern roundabout keep spreading worldwide as they are better (well, less bad mostly) than a traditional circle design.

You must not have read the link I provided:

Quote from: Spain's General Directorate of TrafficIf there is one point that always creates controversy when driving, it is the passage through a roundabout. In recent decades, these roundabouts have proliferated on almost all secondary roads in the national territory to eliminate dangerous merges, reduce the points with the highest accident rate and serve as a regulator for speeding. Despite being one of the points that is most pointed out and highlighted in driving schools, almost every driver has a different way of entering them, with the danger that comes with not respecting the rules in a place like that. Faced with a danger like this that has not just disappeared from the roads, the General Directorate of Traffic periodically insists on reminding us of the current regulations regarding how to drive through a roundabout or roundabout, settling with urban legends, personal tricks or various ways that do not dispel the real danger.

Whether or not it's a matter of calling traffic circles roundabouts, Spain's national authority has made it clear that there's only one legally sanctioned protocol for driving them, and it's directly contradictory to that in the English-speaking world:

Quote- Use only the right lane, the outside lane, to exit. One of the first rules taught in the driving school is that from a roundabout you exit the right lane, the left lane is to continue driving inside.

- Signal any lane changes. Failure to use the turn signals is a danger to traffic and can lead to a financial penalty for a traffic fine.

These three points are supported by a video in which it is seen how the driver who accesses the roundabout from the right lane heads towards the first exit, as well as the vehicle in the left lane that takes the roundabout on its inside to change to the right lane and exit correctly.

I've observed that many nations stripe their circular intersections the way the Spanish do. I guess I thought that the lane line was merely for orientation within the circle, and that somehow the locals had learned how to drive them efficiently without assistance from the striping. Now I know that I was wrong about that. (In fairness to me, while the British theoretically stripe their roundabouts similarly to how we do, the striping within the circle itself is often invisible or nearly so due to wear. I've looked on Streetview.)

Anyway, my question remains valid: Which nations use which convention or protocol or whatever? Or, to put it another way, which nations have actual multilane roundabouts and which have only multilane traffic circles?

kalvado

Quote from: Tom958 on May 28, 2024, 04:46:21 AM
Quote from: kalvado on May 27, 2024, 08:53:05 PMI don't think it is a convention per se. This is a "modern roundabout" or "turbo roundabout" vs more traditional traffic circle.
Apparently, if two lanes may exit, outer lane becomes exit-only. That quickly translates into lanes having beginning and end within the circle, and change of operation concept.
As far as I understand, modern roundabout keep spreading worldwide as they are better (well, less bad mostly) than a traditional circle design.

You must not have read the link I provided:

Quote from: Spain's General Directorate of TrafficIf there is one point that always creates controversy when driving, it is the passage through a roundabout. In recent decades, these roundabouts have proliferated on almost all secondary roads in the national territory to eliminate dangerous merges, reduce the points with the highest accident rate and serve as a regulator for speeding. Despite being one of the points that is most pointed out and highlighted in driving schools, almost every driver has a different way of entering them, with the danger that comes with not respecting the rules in a place like that. Faced with a danger like this that has not just disappeared from the roads, the General Directorate of Traffic periodically insists on reminding us of the current regulations regarding how to drive through a roundabout or roundabout, settling with urban legends, personal tricks or various ways that do not dispel the real danger.

Whether or not it's a matter of calling traffic circles roundabouts, Spain's national authority has made it clear that there's only one legally sanctioned protocol for driving them, and it's directly contradictory to that in the English-speaking world:

Quote- Use only the right lane, the outside lane, to exit. One of the first rules taught in the driving school is that from a roundabout you exit the right lane, the left lane is to continue driving inside.

- Signal any lane changes. Failure to use the turn signals is a danger to traffic and can lead to a financial penalty for a traffic fine.

These three points are supported by a video in which it is seen how the driver who accesses the roundabout from the right lane heads towards the first exit, as well as the vehicle in the left lane that takes the roundabout on its inside to change to the right lane and exit correctly.

I've observed that many nations stripe their circular intersections the way the Spanish do. I guess I thought that the lane line was merely for orientation within the circle, and that somehow the locals had learned how to drive them efficiently without assistance from the striping. Now I know that I was wrong about that. (In fairness to me, while the British theoretically stripe their roundabouts similarly to how we do, the striping within the circle itself is often invisible or nearly so due to wear. I've looked on Streetview.)

Anyway, my question remains valid: Which nations use which convention or protocol or whatever? Or, to put it another way, which nations have actual multilane roundabouts and which have only multilane traffic circles?
A picture sometimes worth 1000 words. The picture at the top shows a circle, not a modern roundabout by layout.
Quoting wiki,
QuoteIn U.S. dictionaries the terms roundabout, traffic circle, road circle and rotary are synonyms.[38] However, several experts such as Leif Ourston have stressed the need to distinguish between the characteristics of the modern roundabout and the nonconforming traffic circle:[3]
That is the full answer to your question - including possible issues with local terminology and things lost in translation. 

Rothman

In MA, they had the outer-to-inner rule until modern roundabouts brought better pavement markings and signage into consideration.

I think the roundabout at NY 85 and NY 140 in Slingerlands' early accident troubles were because of people ignoring pavement markings and following the inner-to-outer rule.
Please note: All comments here represent my own personal opinion and do not reflect the official position(s) of NYSDOT.

vdeane

It's worth noting that we do still have traffic circles that are striped similarly to the Spanish example - this one, for instance.  Quite frankly, the Spanish rule sounds very dangerous to me and their insistence of calling a traffic circle a "roundabout" only spreads confusion (a lot of opposition to roundabouts in places that don't currently have many comes from people confusing the two).  Someone needs to introduce them to modern roundabouts.
Please note: All comments here represent my own personal opinion and do not reflect the official position of NYSDOT or its affiliates.

epzik8

The "exit from outside only" applies to the ones I live near (in the US) as well, but people tend to disregard the accompanying signs and weave between lanes within the roundabout.
From the land of red, white, yellow and black.
____________________________

My clinched highways: http://tm.teresco.org/user/?u=epzik8
My clinched counties: http://mob-rule.com/user-gifs/USA/epzik8.gif

Chris

There are many multilane roundabouts on four lane roads in Spain where 90% of traffic goes straight through. So they are basically used as a curved through route, exiting from both the inside and outside lane.

Spain also has many roundabouts with three lanes (larger ones with four or even as many as seven lanes are typically controlled by traffic signals).

The rule that you can only exit them from the outside lane makes sense from a traffic safety perspective, but it does make the prolific multilane roundabout design in Spain inefficient and basically unusable. A turbo roundabout would be more efficient.

Alps

Quote from: epzik8 on May 28, 2024, 03:00:42 PMThe "exit from outside only" applies to the ones I live near (in the US) as well, but people tend to disregard the accompanying signs and weave between lanes within the roundabout.
The "exit from both lanes" applies to the ones I live near (in the US), because the Northeast is generally a free-for-all when it comes to traffic. Surprisingly few incidents between someone in the outer lane wanting to head left and someone in the inner lane wanting to head right.

NJ 28/US 206 under US 202 is not a roundabout, but the lane assignments there I feel provide a good guide to what you would want to try for in a roundabout. Otherwise, most roundabouts around the country give advance signing for which lane can do what, but it's rare to find a roundabout with 2+ lanes all the way around.

epzik8

Quote from: Alps on May 28, 2024, 07:27:25 PM
Quote from: epzik8 on May 28, 2024, 03:00:42 PMThe "exit from outside only" applies to the ones I live near (in the US) as well, but people tend to disregard the accompanying signs and weave between lanes within the roundabout.
The "exit from both lanes" applies to the ones I live near (in the US), because the Northeast is generally a free-for-all when it comes to traffic.

Boy do I hear you on that one.
From the land of red, white, yellow and black.
____________________________

My clinched highways: http://tm.teresco.org/user/?u=epzik8
My clinched counties: http://mob-rule.com/user-gifs/USA/epzik8.gif

Tom958

Quote from: Rothman on May 28, 2024, 06:59:16 AMIn MA, they had the outer-to-inner rule until modern roundabouts brought better pavement markings and signage into consideration.

I think the roundabout at NY 85 and NY 140 in Slingerlands' early accident troubles were because of people ignoring pavement markings and following the inner-to-outer rule.

I think that's the source of all problems with multilane roundabouts. In my online experience, people who blindly follow the inner-to-outer rule are incredibly pig-headed about it and largely impervious to any efforts to educate them.

Tom958

Quote from: Chris on May 28, 2024, 03:21:55 PMThere are many multilane roundabouts on four lane roads in Spain where 90% of traffic goes straight through. So they are basically used as a curved through route, exiting from both the inside and outside lane.

Spain also has many roundabouts with three lanes (larger ones with four or even as many as seven lanes are typically controlled by traffic signals).

The rule that you can only exit them from the outside lane makes sense from a traffic safety perspective, but it does make the prolific multilane roundabout design in Spain inefficient and basically unusable. A turbo roundabout would be more efficient.
Quote from: vdeane on May 28, 2024, 10:52:16 AMIt's worth noting that we do still have traffic circles that are striped similarly to the Spanish example - this one, for instance.  Quite frankly, the Spanish rule sounds very dangerous to me and their insistence of calling a traffic circle a "roundabout" only spreads confusion (a lot of opposition to roundabouts in places that don't currently have many comes from people confusing the two).  Someone needs to introduce them to modern roundabouts.

What made my recent realization so shocking was my understanding of the history of modern roundabouts. They were invented in the UK in 1956, proliferated there, and eventually became regarded as successful enough that other countries started adopting them. However, now I've learned that some other countries-- Spain and apparently France among them-- have been doing it wrong the whole time. That absolutely blows my mind.

A slightly-relevant aside: After initially reading about this, I had a Google satellite look around the Madrid suburbs and soon found a new-looking circle operating as described, under single-lane rules. Almost all of the vehicles there were in the outside lane. But when I tried the same thing in suburban Paris, I found a similar circle, but most of the cars were in the inside lane. Wassup with that?

Tom958

#12
This is the diagram from that Dull Men's Club post, which I find helpful. The yellow car is following the English rules, while the red car is following the European rules. The pavement markings also follow European rules, so the yellow car is at fault here, though the red car would be at fault in the UK, US, Australia, etc. 




I didn't bother to scour the entire world to inspect roundabout operating conventions, but here's a very incomplete list to which I'd be happy to add:

English rules-- multilane exits:

UK
US
Australia
New Zealand
The Netherlands, I suspect, though turbo roundabouts have largely superseded paint-only multilane roundabouts.
Costa Rica, from an illustrated Facebook comment. I didn't check Latin America, Africa, or Asia.


European rules-- single-lane exits:

Spain
France
Italy
Sweden
Ireland-- I didn't expect that

At first I thought Iceland followed English rules, and they more or less do if all the exits have two lanes. However, another Facebook commenter volunteered that the inside lane always has the right-of-way to take any exit! Example. I really like their pavement markings, BTW.

vdeane

Quote from: Tom958 on June 09, 2024, 08:43:05 AMAt first I thought Iceland followed English rules, and they more or less do if all the exits have two lanes. However, another Facebook commenter volunteered that the inside lane always has the right-of-way to take any exit! Example. I really like their pavement markings, BTW.
I feel like Iceland could be categorized as "Inverse European".
Please note: All comments here represent my own personal opinion and do not reflect the official position of NYSDOT or its affiliates.

Chris

I've been driving around Portugal for the last few weeks and they have a lot of two-lane roundabouts. They're everywhere.

It appears that it is understood that when traveling in the right lane, you exit right or go straight ahead (to the right lane), and if you're in the left lane, you're going left (third exit) or straight ahead into the left lane. People don't enter the roundabout until both lanes have cleared, to avoid colissions.

This works pretty well, until the traffic volumes become too high and these roundabouts become congested.


In France it is more confusing, as the road widens up to two lanes at many roundabouts, but the roundabouts are only marked as a single (wide) lane. That makes it less useful than those in Portugal. It works better when the roundabout has a larger diameter, but this results in driving speeds that become too high for traffic to enter without cutting others off.

So, I preferred the Portuguese two-lane roundabouts over the French roundabouts.

The infamous roundabout at Arc de Triomphe in Paris is basically a super-sized French-style roundabout. However this is not your typical roundabout in France. I've never seen one of that size outside of Paris and I've driven through almost all departments in continental France.



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