A few weeks ago I sent out an email to our cycling community about roundabout safety. I asked our fellow cyclists if they had encountered any issues with a roundabout. We received a great response and I wanted to share some of the close calls cyclists are facing in roundabouts in the hopes it will increase awareness and prepare riders of dangerous situations that might occur.
To no surprise, most of the Florida cyclists who responded talked about encounters they’ve had in The Villages, an active retirement community in Sumter County. There are over two dozen roundabouts in The Villages with Buena Vista Blvd. being the main thoroughfare that connects them. Overall there was a general consensus of what makes the roundabouts unsafe for cyclists and I’d like to share those with you.
Causes of Dangerous Encounters Cyclists Face in Florida Roundabouts
- Drivers who are unfamiliar with navigating a roundabout.
- Aggressive and impatient drivers who dart in front of cyclists before entering a roundabout.
- Older drivers who have poor eyesight, confused judgement and slow reflexes.
- Drivers who simply don’t expect to see cyclists in a roundabout.
- Vehicles approaching a roundabout failing to yield to cyclists.
- Motorist in the inside lane passes cyclists on the outside lane to execute a right turn.
- Vehicles exiting at the first exit which is prohibited.
What Safety Measures Can Be Enacted to Prevent Dangerous Encounters in Florida Roundabouts?
Again we received some really great and sound advice about what could and should be done to try and bring awareness to these close calls cyclists are facing in roundabouts. Here were some of the suggestions they offered:
- Repeated educational reminders to drivers on how to navigate roundabouts. Include this in the local newspapers and community newsletters.
- Educate drivers to move to the left lane when passing cyclists.
- Educate cyclists on knowing when to take the lane in order to make ourselves more visible.
- When a cyclist enters a roundabout they should ride the center of the outside lane and when exiting they should get over to the far right of the lane to let any vehicles pass.
- Cyclists should use hand signals when navigating a roundabout.
- Both cyclists and driers should never take the “short-cut” of exiting a the first exit.
What Problems Do Florida Cycling Groups Face in Roundabouts & What’s the Safest Way to Handle Them?
A few cyclists shared some enlightening information on navigating a roundabout when they are on a group ride with their bicycle club. Often times these group rides will have 8-10 cyclists or more. One issue that seems to occur often is a driver in the outside lane of the roundabout will see cyclists stopped at the yield sign so they will stop to allow the riders through. Typically speaking, most drivers in a roundabout wouldn’t expect the vehicle with the right of way to stop. This can lead to several dangerous situations such as:
- If the cyclists proceed, the motorist might be hit from behind.
- A vehicle following the “polite motorist” would need to swerve into the inside lane where traffic is moving normally and may contact another vehicle already using the inside lane.
- Cyclists have proceeded and a swerving vehicle behind “polite motorist” either sees the cyclists and stops or hits the cyclist(s) because the vehicle has obstructed their view.
- The swerving vehicle is rear-ended because they’ve changed lanes abruptly or because they saw the cyclists and came to a quick stop.
Regarding the situation above, it is recommended that the cycling group remain stopped until the stopped vehicle proceeds through or is waved through by the cyclists. This sometimes results in the driver being angry but the cyclists remain uninjured.
Another common issue is when a motorist in the inside lane of the roundabout passes the cycling group along the outside lane. The motorist then executes a right turn to exit the roundabout and hits one or more of the cyclists instead of continuing around the roundabout to re-approach the intended exit. Unfortunately, this can be an unavoidable situation for cyclists since they are following the laws and there is little time to react. This is why I urge all cyclists to be as highly visible as possible with fluorescent clothing from head to toe, flashing lights on your ankles and day-time headlights and tail lights.
Have You Been Injured in a Florida Cycling Accident in a Roundabout?
Our office was recently contacted by our third cycling client in the past several months who had been hit by a car in a roundabout in The Villages, Florida. This is extremely frustrating because these crashes are simple to avoid. I’m an experienced personal injury attorney with over 25 years of experience helping hundreds and hundreds of clients throughout Florida. I’m also a cyclist who has ridden the same roads you have and I understand the dangers encountered by recreational cyclists who have been injured while pursuing their passion for cycling.
While our main office is located in Clearwater, I frequently represent cyclists in The Villages and throughout Florida. It is not necessary to come to our office. I will come to you. Contact me online or call my office directly at 727-446-0840 to discuss the circumstances of your case and learn for yourself exactly what we can do to help you.