This might be great if roundabouts really did solve all these problems, but there are some pretty major shortcomings with roundabout effectiveness in my experience. I argue that they create new, rather than solve, existing road hazards
Firstly, many drivers are ignorant about actual traffic laws when it comes to roundabouts. Legislation here in Victoria changed from the simple give way to the left, to first at the roundabout has right of way a couple of years ago, in line with other Australian states. Many drivers, here in Ballarat at least, remain ignorant of these changes, thus I take great caution when driving through a roundabout. Here in Ballarat, the old give way to the left rule continues to prevail, but no policing of roundabout driving regulations has ever taken place to my knowledge!
More importantly, drivers at roundabouts give their primary attention over to looking out for other cars at the neglect of other road users. They forget that other vehicles include bicycles, who have equal road user status when it comes to roundabouts and road use. Roundabouts are accident hotspots for cyclists. Major injury of cyclists, frequently occurs at roundabouts, as car drivers neglect to adequately observe the cyclist in a hurry to get to their own destination. Many a time have I witnessed motorists failing to give way to cyclists at one of the many roundabouts around Wendouree Parade in Ballarat, even if they are wearing visibility vests and are easy to see. Wendouree Parade is probably the most popular road for cyclist leisure rides in Ballarat. It is also a major thoroughfare for many students on their bikes en route to nearby schools on a twice daily basis throughout the school year. Yet cyclist lanes cease at roundabouts and they negotiate the roundabout at their own peril, as motorists fail to recognise them as legitimate road users!
Any pedestrian trying to cross at a busy roundabout, on a regular basis, will also be familiar with just how cautious one needs to be when negotiating their way across the roundabout. The reality is, again, car drivers are so preoccupied with the whereabouts of other cars, they regularly fail to notice a pedestrian.
As a pedestrian, I regularly have to cross the Wendouree Parade and Forest street roundabout intersection. Several times within the last year, my dog and I have almost been collected by careless drivers proceeding through the roundabout whilst we were crossing. Worse still is the almost blind roundabout on Dana and Lydiard Streets, where the extreme gradient of Dana street and surrounding architecture of buildings on all corners, further retricts driver vision. I have actually been employed to assist large tour groups cross safely at this roundabout late at night, in relatively quiet road usage times, such is the hazard created by the roundabout for all but car drivers. Here only traffic light installation would resolve the ongoing danger to pedestrians and cyclists. But, it seems pedestrians and cyclists just don't matter when it comes to considering actual road users.
It seems currently only car advocacy groups are heard when it comes to what changes might improve road safety and these changes get implemented. A roundabout is a quick and relatively cheap fix to what car drivers want in relation to uninterrupted passage along busy street intersections. This must change. The reality is pedestrians cross roads by necessity and cyclists regularly make use of our roads. Both are as entitled to safe road journeys as motorists. Both are without the physical protection of a car. Modern cars come equipped with airbags that further protect the driver and passengers in the case of sudden collision. Cyclists and pedestrians on the other hand, remain as vulnerable as ever to injury when hit by force from a vehicle.
As far as I am concerned, every new roundabout erected on our roads creates, rather than solves a hazard. Traffic lights, though they stop traffic and hold up traffic flow are a safer alternative to the random effectiveness of roundabouts. Traffic lights cost more to install and maintain, but ensure pedestrians can cross roads safely and cyclists are not ignored as vehicles in their own right.
If you are a driver, please be mindful of cyclists and pedestrians as you make your way through any roundabout. You are not the only one to have right of way on the road and common courtesy and knowledge of road rules at roundabouts may save someones life, or prevent serious injury!