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FHWA Home / Safety / Intersection / Intersection Safety

Roundabouts with Pedestrians & Bicycles

A Safe Choice for Everyone

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FHWA–SA–15–016


What is a Roundabout?

A roundabout is a type of circular intersection, but is quite unlike a neighborhood traffic circle or large rotary. Roundabouts have been proven safer and more efficient than other types of circular intersections.

Diagram showing the safety features and general characteristics of a modern roundabout, including bycicle lane treatments, pavement markings at entry, counterclockwise rotation, circular roadway, sidewalk or shared use path placement, central island placement, the apron around the central island, landscape buffer placement, accessible pedestrian crossing placements, and splitter island placement.
Figure 1. Modern Roundabout Schematic

Roundabouts have certain essential distinguishing features:

FHWA identified roundabouts as a Proven Safety Countermeasure because of their ability to substantially reduce the types of crashes that result in injury or loss of life. Roundabouts are designed to improve safety for all users, including pedestrians and bicycles. They also provide significant operational benefits compared to conventional intersections.

On average, roundabouts reduce severe crashes — those resulting in injury or loss of life — by 78–82%1

Diagram and picture describing how roundabouts have fewer conflict points than stop or signal controlled intersections

Diagram and picture describing the safety benefits of shorter, setback crossings at roundabouts

Pictures of roundabout signage and bikes / vehicles sharing the road. Photo Source: Jeffrey Shaw, FHWA. Call-out box states: "Lower Speed -  Traffic speed at any road or intersection is vitally important to the safety of everyone, and especially non-motorized users. Lower speed is associated with better yielding rates, reduced vehicle stopping distance, and lower risk of collision injury or fatality. Also, the speed of traffic through a roundabout is more consistent with comfortable bicycle riding speed."

Roundabout treatments for bicycles and pedestrians

Educational Resources

Michigan "How to Use a Roundabout — Sharing the Road" Informational Brochure
http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdot/MDOT_RoundaboutPedBikeBrochure_465164_7.pdf

New York Guidance for Roundabout Users
www.dot.ny.gov/main/roundabouts/guide–users/pedestrians

Washington State videos for Roundabouts and Pedestrians and Bicycles
www.wsdot.wa.gov/Safety/roundabouts/PedestriansCyclists.htm

Leveraging Partnerships

PEDSAFE Pedestrian Safety Guide & Countermeasure Selection System – Roundabouts
www.pedbikesafe.org/PEDSAFE/countermeasures_detail.cfm?CM_NUM=25

BIKESAFE Bicycle Safety Guide & Countermeasure Selection System — Roundabouts
www.pedbikesafe.org/BIKESAFE/countermeasures_detail.cfm?CM_NUM=17

Choosing Roundabouts for Safe Routes to School
www.saferoutesinfo.org/program–tools/case–study–bellingham–wa

AARP Livable Communities Fact Sheet Series
http://www.aarp.org/livable–communities/info–2014/livability–factsheet–modern–roundabouts.html

For More Information

Jeffrey Shaw, P.E., PTOE, PTP
FHWA Office of Safety
708.283.3524 or jeffrey.shaw@dot.gov

Hillary Isebrands, P.E., PhD
FHWA Resource Center
720.963.3222 or hillary.isebrands@dot.gov

To learn more about roundabouts, please visit:
safety.fhwa.dot.gov


1Highway Safety Manual, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Washington, DC, 2010. [Return to Note 1.]

Page last modified on December 1, 2015.
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