Roundabout confusion continues nearly 20 years after first one was installed

With more than 20 roundabouts now built in the City of Ottawa concerns are being raised about how safe they are and whether or not people actually know how to use them.

The City statistics read that roundabouts reduce fatal collisions by 60 per cent and other collisions by 40 per cent.

Research also shows the roundabouts reduce collisions with pedestrians and improve safety for those on foot because they're only required to look in one direction, as opposed to three, to watch for oncoming traffic.

Despite the fact roundabouts have existed within Ottawa's boundaries since the 1990's, there is still a lot of confusion about how they work and one of the biggest areas of confusion surrounds the rules for pedestrians.

Last week Maureen Ward was walking with her granddaughter through the Orleans roundabout at Jeanne D'Arc and St. Joseph when she found they couldn't get across.

She said they came to one section where trees blocked traffic and they couldn't see past the centre island of the roundabout to look for approaching cars.

"So, I'm thinking well, what is a pedestrian supposed to do? There's nowhere for the pedestrian to cross and there's no rules about it? Is there?" she said.

In fact, there are several rules but they're not posted at every single roundabout. At Stonehaven and Bridgestone in Bridlewood there are large signs reminding drivers and pedestrians of the most important rule.

That is that pedestrians do not have the right of way, bottom line.

"They need to approach the crossing, wait for a gap in traffic and then cross to the centre median and then look in the other direction," said Phil Landry, Manager of Traffic Services for the City of Ottawa.

He said drivers should move to the yield line and then stop. If there's a car in front of you waiting then you leave a gap at the cross walk.

Another problem is that drivers don't use their signal lights in roundabouts. All drivers should signal their intention. If you're turning right, use the right hand signal the entire time. If you're going straight or turning left you use your left signal light until you pass the last exit before yours and then switch to your right hand signal light.

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