Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Revisit Roundabouts; Social-Media Sleuths

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Revisit Roundabouts; Social-Media Sleuths

Article excerpt


Two-lane two-step

Venice drivers, take heart: You're not the only folks having trouble with two-lane roundabouts.

Communities in Minnesota and Washington state, to name a couple, have reported many of the same woes that Venice is experiencing, and they're taking corrective action to try to reduce accident rates.

Let's hope we can learn from their attempts. The city of Sarasota, which plans to install numerous multi-lane roundabouts along congested U.S. 41, also should take heed.

Unlike single-lane roundabouts, which are simple to drive, the two-lane versions present more conflict points as motorists circle around to their exits. At the Venice roundabout, at Jacaranda Boulevard and Venice Avenue, the number of fender-benders skyrocketed after it opened in 2011.

As Earle Kimel reported this week, the Florida Department of Transportation is eyeing changes that would reduce conflicts and faulty lane changes. But the reconfiguration could hurt the roundabout's ability to handle its expected traffic load. That's an unfortunate trade-off.

Initially, there was hope that accidents would ease once drivers got the hang of a two-lane roundabout -- but crashes persist. Much of the cause, we suspect, is uncertainty over just what the rules are. Instructions tend to vary by state. Our review suggests four key steps for motorists at the Venice roundabout:

- Slow down as you approach it, to under 20 mph. (Yield to pedestrians.)

- Think ahead: Being in the proper lane is critical, so make sure you choose the correct one before entering the roundabout. (The outside lane is the choice --usually-- for drivers planning to exit at the first or second turn. Those going farther around the circle should be on the inside lane.) Switching lanes is risky once you're in the roundabout.

- Don't enter until there's a safe gap in both lanes. …

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