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Traffic 101: How to Avoid a Run-In at Redmond's New Roundabouts

Not sure how to get through the new roundabouts in town? Here are some driving tips from King County.

Roundabouts are now a part of daily life for many unincorporated Redmond residents.

As part of the ongoing Novelty Hill construction project, King County has installed two roundabouts, one at Union Hill Road and 196th Avenue Northeast, and another at Novelty Hill Road and 195th Avenue Northeast.

A reader contacted us earlier this week to say many drivers haven't learned how to safely proceed through the intersections with new roundabouts: "No one seems to know that the people in the circle have the right of way and people entering the circle have to yield."

Have you witnessed any collisions or near-misses at Redmond's new roundabouts? Tell us in the comments section.

For those in need of a refresher, here are some tips from King County's Road Services Division: 

  • SLOW down. A speed of 15 mph or less is appropriate throughout the roundabout.
  • LOOK for pedestrians at the crosswalks as you approach and exit the roundabout. Stop for pedestrians; they have the right-of-way.
  • YIELD to all vehicles in the roundabout. Look to your left and wait for a gap in the circulating traffic before entering.
  • ENTER the roundabout. Once in the circulating lane, do not stop and do not overtake vehicles ahead of you.
  • EXIT the roundabout in the direction of your destination. Street signs are posted to guide you.

King County touts roundabouts as a safer, cheaper and more efficient alternative to traffic signals. For more information, check out the attached PDF from King County, or visit WSDOT's "How to use a roundabout" web page.

Margaret Rockenbeck January 19, 2013 at 02:55 PM
Tiny correction: the roundabout on Novelty Hill Road actually intersects with 195th Ave NE, not 196th. (You can see the bend down on 195th/196th where there is a new road sign posted by Perrigo Park to show the street change.) Trust me on this--the roundabout is at the corner of our family's property.
Cheryl Strong Magnuson January 19, 2013 at 03:30 PM
I liked the first explanation: "No one seems to know that the people in the circle have the right of way and people entering the circle have to yield." Since I always have gone out of my way to avoid roundabouts, I had never noticed this very logical fact. I live off of Novelty Hill Road and now when the new roundabout is fully functioning (from all roads) I will feel perfectly confident. Thanks for sharing what should have been obvious to me.
Tanya Rusak January 19, 2013 at 04:03 PM
I love the new roundabout! I just wish that drivers would take a tip from European Drivers that you should use your turning signal in the roundabout to alert drivers that are waiting to enter when and where the drivers in the circle are planning to exit. It works great in Europe. It keeps the flow moving even better!
Brigid Boman January 19, 2013 at 05:27 PM
I agree. It is especially important to signal when there are several exits on the roundabout.
Melissa January 19, 2013 at 06:24 PM
THANK YOU Tanya!!!!! YES, people still MUST use their signals in roundabouts!! I am positively outraged that if you look closely at this video you don't see ANY signals being used. Even when they go to the computer diagram they don't show that the vehicle turning left should have it's signal on! So far most of our regional roundabouts (here, Issaquah and Woodenville) are very one directional roundabouts. Meaning MOST traffic goes straight in both directions. It doesn't take long before the drivers get complacent and simply ASSUME that the traffic in the roundabout is going straight (meaning they don't have to yield). Even when I have my left turn signal on almost every oncoming car I have encountered either pulls out in front of me or slams on the breaks at the last minute. I have seen even closer near misses when someone is NOT using a signal to turn left. Remember no signal means going straight people, using a signal means you are turning. Nice article, but someone should contact WaDOT and King County and tell them to add that very important piece of information to the video. And refilm it with drivers who signal correctly.
Caitlin Moran January 20, 2013 at 06:41 AM
Thanks, Margaret. I fixed it.
Suza January 21, 2013 at 12:36 AM
Melissa, I couldn't agree more. Without being told I use my signal in roundabouts, but America needs signs put up, and for this matter to be addressed in the Driver's handbook too (only available online now--don't they know a lot of people, especially older people don't use the internet!?) so that upcoming generations of drivers to understand how to navigate these. I personally loathe traffic circles because they are so dangerous and people drive aggressively and stupidly in them.
Suza January 21, 2013 at 09:33 AM
By stupidly, I mean that a LOT of people don't know what the rules are, for instance to signal is a great idea, but we don't know this rule, or when exactly does who get to go, it sure isn't a 4 way stop. I am glad to hear someone finally bring up the notion of rules and signals, and who should yield. What I see is that if drivers see someone driving in front of them enter the circle then that is their cue to enter it too, and all the people behind them also enter. ALL the drivers in line going into that particular point of the circle (roundabout) feel entitled to go, following, before letting any other cars that are yielding on all other sides enter. Is that the rule? Who goes next? Who knows? Traffic planners have thrown these out into the streets without training the public how to drive in them.
ScottRAB January 22, 2013 at 06:07 PM
Yield signs have been around for a while and were probably something you had to know about to pass your licensing exam. Yield means prepare to stop if there is a conflict. One thing local jurisdictions can to to ease the transition is a temporary posting under the yield sign of a recently approved sign 'CROSS TRAFFIC DOES NOT STOP'. if installed for 3-6 months, it could help re-familiarize drivers with what the yield sign means.
Julie Schuster January 25, 2013 at 06:07 AM
I had started my morning today, following/listening to two drivers "verbally duke it out", as one driver honked in anger and the other finally jumped out at the next Round-a-bout, where the honking continued! I rolled down my window and heard obscenities yelled by the rear driver and the word "YIELD"! It's been years since I took my drivers test, but I clearly remember "YIELD to oncoming traffic"! No matter what, if you want to avoid an accident! (must say, this was at the 2+/- year established round-a-bout going down Inglewood Hill in Sammamish)

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