The much discussed — and occasionally cussed — mini-roundabout at Third Avenue and Tietan Street has been open about two weeks. So, how’s it going?
Based on community chatter, OK. Just OK.
While most drivers grasp the concept and navigate through the intersection swiftly and successfully, a few folks seem a bit perplexed by the yield signs at each of the roundabouts four entrances.
Many — too many — drivers are treating these as a stop signs that requires a vehicles to come to a complete halt. In this case, drivers are supposed to use good judgment to enter into the intersection without stopping if another vehicle is not nearby.
If a vehicle is at the point of entry, drivers should then wait and immediately follow that car (unless, of course, another vehicle is near).
It’s supposed to be like merging into traffic on the roadway. It’s about good timing.
Another problem that seems to be noticed is vehicles driving straight over the top of the traffic circle. Seriously! Several people have witnessed this mistake, and the tire tracks on the bricks at the center of the circle prove that this is indeed occurring.
This is wrong and dangerous. Knock it off. If another vehicle is on the other side of the traffic circle a collision will occur.
In addition, a few drivers who appear to be confused actually stop while in the roundabout. No. Keep moving.
In fact, movement is the key to success in a roundabout, whether a mini one at Third and Tietan or regular-sized roundabout.
Change is hard , though most have some experience.Roundabouts are all over the Tri-Cities and most cities in Washington state. Plus, Walla Walla has had a triple roundabout — called “dogbone” because that’s what it looks like from above — for nearly a decade where U.S. Highway 12 empties on to Myra Road.
Some people struggle the mini-roundabout and other roundabouts because they simply do not like the concept of roundabouts.
But roundabouts are becoming ubiquitous because the data on overall safety and traffic flow supports them.
The city is planning roundabouts at Park and Alder streets as well as Palouse and Alder streets. And the state of Washington is planning on using a roundabout to connect Ninth Avenue with state Route 125 at Dalles Military Road and Plaza Way.
If you are not comfortable with roundabouts, give them a try. One or two trips through and it will feel as comfortable as taking a free right turn on a red light.
All drivers need to know how to safely navigate roundabouts. They are here to stay.