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Love roundabouts or hate 'em, they're here to stay and, according to this story, a new one could be coming to Rochester's East Side.

The city Public Works Dept. is considering replacing the traffic signal lights at the 11th Ave./East Center St intersection with a “mini-roundabout.” The intersection is near the Boys and Girls Club. (Read more here.)

As I was talking this over with a friend in the road construction business, I was saying how much I loved roundabouts and don't understand why people think they're hard. He said, "How do you use a roundabout then, Rabe?"

I said you pull up to it, you yield to oncoming traffic, you use your turn signal when you enter, you drive around 'til you get to the street you want to use and turn and go. And he said, "WRONG!" He says you're supposed to use your turn signal when you want to leave the roundabout.

What? I mean...I'm a big turn signal guy, even use them in parking lots, but we're all moving so slow, it's not like it helps the people behind me. He said, "Its also about the people waiting to merge into the roundabout!" Oh, yeah...them. That's actually a really good point.

But wait! [Update]

Using your turn signal when exiting a roundabout might be helpful to drivers about to enter the roundabout, but is it actually required by law?

Upon further research, we found the answer to that question is no!  State Patrol Sgt. Neil Dickenson said:

"Minnesota state law says that a signal of intention to turn right or left shall be given continuously during not less than the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning. A person whose vehicle is exiting a roundabout is exempt from this subdivision. So per state law, a signal is not required once in a roundabout. I would say that entering a roundabout could or would require a signal, depending on how it is constructed. My recommendation would be to use your signal anytime you change lanes or direction, to alert others of your intention."

According to defensivedriving.com, this is how you should signal when using a roundabout:

  • When turning right (first exit), signal right as with a normal right turn.
  • When going straight ahead, no signal upon entering, signal as you approach your exit.
  • When turning left (last exit/three-quarters around), signal left upon entering, switch to right as you come to the exit.

In case you've forgotten what turn signals look like, here's one that could be in your car.

smodj

Here is more information from the Minnesota Department of Transporation about what drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists should know about navigating a roundabout:

Drivers

  • Slow down when approaching a roundabout. For multi-lane roundabouts, as with any intersection, get into the appropriate lane.
  • Yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk. It is the law.
  • Yield to vehicles already in the roundabout. Merge into the traffic flow when it is safe.
  • Continue through the roundabout until you reach your exit. Do not stop or pass in a roundabout.
  • Exit the roundabout immediately if an emergency vehicle approaches, and then pull over. Do not stop in the roundabout.
  • Yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk when exiting the roundabout.
  • Give large trucks extra space in a roundabout. Large trucks may straddle both lanes while driving through a multi-lane roundabout.

Pedestrians

  • Cross only at crosswalks, and always stay on the designated walkways.
  • Never cross to the central island.
  • Cross the roundabout one approach at a time. Use the median island as a halfway point where you can check for approaching traffic.

Bicyclists

  • Ride with traffic inside the roundabout or use the crosswalks appropriately.
  • Follow the same rules as vehicles when riding with traffic and yield when entering the roundabout. Since traffic is slower inside the roundabout, cyclists should be able to travel at or near the same speed as motorists, staying in line with the circulating traffic.
MN Dept. of Transportation

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