How do I handle a large, busy roundabout?

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guzzimag
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How do I handle a large, busy roundabout?

Postby guzzimag » 28 Nov 2012, 2:37pm

Hello - I'm after advice.

Part of my commute takes me across the Lawnswood Roundabout in Leeds - it's a major intersection on the ring road, 3 lanes of traffic and 4 exits. Very high traffic volume with queues of traffic waiting to enter. I cross straight over it. I nearly got taken out twice last night, once on that roundabout by someone pulling out in front of me as I was trying to exit, and the same thing again on another roundbaout later in my commute.

I wear a Nightvision jacket, flashing front Smart Lunar 30, cateye ld1100 rear on solid plus reflectors. It's dark when I'm on the road home. Last night I ordered a much brighter front light, and a topeak headlux helmet light to increase my side/rear visibility. I'm used to defensive riding having motorcycled that route for many years.

My question is: what road position should I be occupying when crossing the roundabout? I tend to stick to the inside of the nearside lane - which means I'm close to car bumpers waiting to enter the roundabout, and I noticed that the "smidsy" offenders view was blocked by the cars door frame (they had the seat right back). I don't think they clocked me at all during this near miss. Should I be bold and cross it in primary position?? Slightly concerned about getting rear ended if I do this, but it would increase my visibility to those waiting to enter the roundabout when I'm crossing it.

Vorpal
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Re: How do I handle a large, busy roundabout?

Postby Vorpal » 28 Nov 2012, 2:55pm

Operate exactly as if you are driving a car, in the middle of the correct lane. Signal to exit (when you don't need both hands to control the bicycle). And get a copy of Cyclecraft by John Franklin. 8)
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martinohr
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Re: How do I handle a large, busy roundabout?

Postby martinohr » 28 Nov 2012, 3:24pm

Lawnswood roundabout is not easy for motorists either, simply because it is so busy and traffic has to be quick to get on there. I think a lot of the advice in the cyclecraft book can be unhelpful in heavy traffic situations.

My first suggestion is to avoid that particular roundabout at the busiest times:- you don't say which way you are going across it - if you are going headingley<>golden acre park then maybe crossing the ring road at spen lane or at hope pastures might be on your route anyway. If you're using the ring road then I'd suggest you get out a route planner and find a nicer route anyway.

Otherwise my approach to busy multi-lane roundabouts is to take up a dominant position in the outer (ie leftmost) lane, ignore any road markings and ride steadily around maintaining my dominant position until I'm ready to pull off; being very clear with hand signals and making eye contact alternating over your right shoulder and back to traffic waiting to join. I use a firm stop hand signal (as though I was a police officer) to anyone who looks like they might not have judged my intentions correctly, and then give thanks wave or a thumbs up to anyone who does actually stop/slow for me.

I'd be interested to find out if changing your lighting/clothing has any effect. Anecdotally from me, I get more leeway from motorists wearing a suit and riding a 1950s ladies shopper than in my high-vis on a racing bike with super-bright lights. Unfortunately motorists tend to see you but not notice you.

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meic
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Re: How do I handle a large, busy roundabout?

Postby meic » 28 Nov 2012, 3:28pm

I am an ex-dispatch rider and know how to go around a busy roundabout on a bike of all types. However I choose not to do so at busy times.
There are not many situations that make me decide not to cycle but a busy motorway or trunk road roundabout is the sort of place that traffic makes too dangerous for cyclists unless they are traffic light controlled.
I am not for one second saying others should not do so and I do occasionally but it is on some of them it is only a matter of time before they get you. On some of them trying to negotiate it on the "pavement" can be as bad or worse.
Yma o Hyd

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661-Pete
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Re: How do I handle a large, busy roundabout?

Postby 661-Pete » 28 Nov 2012, 3:36pm

I take it, this is the roundabout you mean. Evidently Google were visiting at a very quiet time of day!

Hmmm... no easy answer. I hate these roundabouts with lane markings on the roundabout itself: sow nothing but confusion for motorist and cyclist alike. If you are in the camera position, going straight on, I'd follow the line the van is taking, but you need to watch out for drivers ignoring your very existence!
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thirdcrank
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Re: How do I handle a large, busy roundabout?

Postby thirdcrank » 28 Nov 2012, 3:38pm

For anybody unfamiliar with the location, this isn't a gyratory but a very busy roundabout with plenty of lanes. It's long overdue for signals but that's a different story.

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=lawnswo ... 2,180,,0,0

Vorpal's general advice is completely right of course, but not necessarily easy to follow somewhere like this. It's on a bit of a hill as well so it's marginally easier to get up a bit of speed riding inbound rather than out. I know that this isn't the question but this is one of those places where I'd be looking for an alternative route.

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Re: How do I handle a large, busy roundabout?

Postby Vorpal » 28 Nov 2012, 4:10pm

thirdcrank wrote:For anybody unfamiliar with the location, this isn't a gyratory but a very busy roundabout with plenty of lanes. It's long overdue for signals but that's a different story.

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=lawnswo ... 2,180,,0,0

Vorpal's general advice is completely right of course, but not necessarily easy to follow somewhere like this. It's on a bit of a hill as well so it's marginally easier to get up a bit of speed riding inbound rather than out. I know that this isn't the question but this is one of those places where I'd be looking for an alternative route.


I have to admit that I do not know this particular roundabout. It doesn't look too awful on Google Earth, but a busy A road, multi-lane roundabout can certainly be hairy at peak times. I wouldn't necessarily advise someone to avoid them, though. I think each person has to weigh for him or herself the risk of any particular route or junction versus the time an alternative takes. I used to use a couple of multi-lane A road roundabouts fairly regularly because the alternatives were miles out of my way.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

guzzimag
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Re: How do I handle a large, busy roundabout?

Postby guzzimag » 28 Nov 2012, 4:12pm

Yes that's the roundabout in question, and I agree it is difficult for drivers too. I think the advice to find a better route is ringing true. It's the only part of my journey that feels dicey. Cowardice being the better part of valour and all that?! It's OK on the way in as has been said, it's downhill so you can get across it more rapidly (which I do in primary). Huffing your way slowly across the jaws of death uphill on the way back with a van up your posterier is no fun!

I think a combo of better lights/side vis and a new route is needed. I'll also get hold of a copy of cyclecraft. Thanks for the tips everyone.

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BeeKeeper
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Re: How do I handle a large, busy roundabout?

Postby BeeKeeper » 28 Nov 2012, 4:23pm

Being a chicken I would be tempted to turn left and then cross over the road using the light controlled pedestrian crossing (pushing the bike of course!) which is there after about 50 yards and then go back down to the roundabout and do another left.

JustDoIt
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Re: How do I handle a large, busy roundabout?

Postby JustDoIt » 28 Nov 2012, 5:51pm

Beekeeper, sorry but you're 90 degrees out - he's come uphill on the A660 from that crossing, so already somewhat knackered from the long drag. And it's in the dark. possibly rush-hour, so nowhere near as 'mild' as in the Street View. It's a real test of strength to get across the Ring Road (A6120) before the next pulse of vehicles comes at you, never mind doing it in the dark. And if that wasn't bad enough, a lot of cars go left at the Y-junction a few hundred metres further on (Old Otley Road) so you have to leave the cycle lane and try taking the primary position - a bold move!

Incidentally, and I've only just noticed: this Google Street view is a composite, so you can't refer to a particular van in the picture; each time you go round the traffic situation is different. Cross over the roundabout and check out the Tetley's van, then go round the roundabout - it's gone!

thirdcrank
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Re: How do I handle a large, busy roundabout?

Postby thirdcrank » 28 Nov 2012, 6:29pm

Roundabouts, particularly large roundabouts and gyratories, are the most feared feature of the road network for cyclists. Even experienced cyclists wiill make detours to avoid certain roundabouts or sometimes dismount and wheel their bicycles across the junction Cycle-friendly Infrastructure (ch 17)

The person who wrote that may well have commuted on the A 660. There's some history to this. The A660 was included on the route of the Leeds Supertam project which has been on and off for the last couple of decades, the main point being that keeping the tram's options open has inevitably affected highway decisions along the route. The A 660 to the North of the roundabout (ie out of the city) and the eastbound Ring Road A 6110 form a trunk route so they are under the aegis (what is an aegis? :? ) of the Highways Agency. At the end of the last century several of us cycle campaigners had a meeting with them about various cycling issues. This roundabout was discussed and the HA "cycling officer" (AKA the chap who had drawn the short straw) whipped out a copy of the Cycle City map of Leeds and referred to the various alternative official cycle routes avoiding the junction. As I held back the tears (of frustration and anger) somebody else noted that that that was just what I'd predicted would happen if Leeds Cycling Action Group went along with that map.

Anyway, you have to cope with things as they are, not what might have been. Anybody deciding to use that rounabout on a bike needs to be assertive in spades. I have occasionally used that roundabout eg I did a course lasting a few days at Weetwood Police Station which is just off the roundabout so a detour would have been quite a long one but it wasn't designed with safety in mind.

PS - Vorpal I wasn't having a go at what you posted because it's completely right. One problem with streetview, however, is that it shows what the place looks like without giving any idea what it really is like - a bit like a photo of the inside of a pub never really capturing the atmosphere.

PPS I think this aerial google view gives a better idea (or it would if I knew how to get rid of the superimposed route lines. :?

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=lawnswo ... ngdom&z=19

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Re: How do I handle a large, busy roundabout?

Postby Vorpal » 28 Nov 2012, 7:30pm

thirdcrank wrote:PS - Vorpal I wasn't having a go at what you posted because it's completely right. One problem with streetview, however, is that it shows what the place looks like without giving any idea what it really is like - a bit like a photo of the inside of a pub never really capturing the atmosphere.

PPS I think this aerial google view gives a better idea (or it would if I knew how to get rid of the superimposed route lines. :?

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=lawnswo ... ngdom&z=19


I didn't think you were having a go at me. It was just after you posted, I realised I wouldn't have a clue if I was talking about the most hellish roundabout in Britain, and I thought it was worth pointing that out. :)

It's impossible to say from Google Earth how bad something is, though anything with more than a couple of lanes has a high nightmare potential. One of the worst roundabouts that I have used regularly, looked quite tame on the surface, but had all sorts of traffic interaction problems that made it much worse than it looked. On the other hand, using Hanger Lane Gyratory on a bicycle is easier by far than following the bicycle route intended to bypass it. :shock:
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horizon
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Re: How do I handle a large, busy roundabout?

Postby horizon » 28 Nov 2012, 8:26pm

thirdcrank wrote:

PPS I think this aerial google view gives a better idea (or it would if I knew how to get rid of the superimposed route lines. :?



Click on "Map"
Click on Labels (on the little tick to be exact). The tick will disappear.

This will remove the additional route lines.
I have two doctors, my left leg and my right leg. (G. M. Trevelyan)
PS I always wondered why the YHA HQ was called Trevelyan House. :)

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horizon
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Re: How do I handle a large, busy roundabout?

Postby horizon » 28 Nov 2012, 8:37pm

Now, when you have mastered that (Basic Level Wizardry) your next task in order to achieve the title of Grand Master (Remover of Green Lines on Roundabouts) is to remove the green lines from this roundabout (Ha Ha Ha evil :evil: :evil: laughter....):

800px-Roundabout_cyclelanes.JPG
I have two doctors, my left leg and my right leg. (G. M. Trevelyan)
PS I always wondered why the YHA HQ was called Trevelyan House. :)

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661-Pete
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Re: How do I handle a large, busy roundabout?

Postby 661-Pete » 28 Nov 2012, 9:11pm

TBH, and speaking as a motorist (just for the moment) I can't see the logic in large roundabouts. They take up more real estate and don't help to ease general congestion in my experience. Back in my cycling garb: a small roundabout is far easier for a cyclist. You can generally be on it and off it before there's time for a following motorist to become impatient.

But how to convince them that plan these things out?

JustDoIt wrote:Incidentally, and I've only just noticed: this Google Street view is a composite, so you can't refer to a particular van in the picture; each time you go round the traffic situation is different. Cross over the roundabout and check out the Tetley's van, then go round the roundabout - it's gone!

Nearly all Google street views are composites. It's amusing to see a sudden change in the season as you step forward a few yards along a road.

And sometimes changes are even more dramatic - and heartbreaking. See here for a view of a pub that I used to frequent in my student days (1970s). Now click on the forward arrow. Hey presto! The pub ain't there anymore :( - and the road layout has also changed. There's even a barrier across the road I was coming down... :roll: But go a bit further forward along Richmond Road, and the Peel re-appears. :)
Last edited by 661-Pete on 28 Nov 2012, 9:17pm, edited 1 time in total.
Suppose that this room is a lift. The support breaks and down we go with ever-increasing velocity.
Let us pass the time by performing physical experiments...
--- Arthur Eddington (creator of the Eddington Number).