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Posted on Mon. Jul. 14, 2014 - 12:01 am EDT

Don't let new roundabouts give you the runaround


Last week I mentioned that we would look into roundabouts this week. My experience with them was nil until I moved to the Midwest. Californians would never stand for them. While out there the only roundabout that I had known of was a ’70s song by the band Yes.

While working on the left side of the state, I would receive many emails and calls about the roundabouts Valparaiso had installed. Nearly every week the fine citizens of Redenbacherville would rant about how no one could drive through them. With the impending installation of a roundabout in a key traffic vein -- Fairfield Avenue and Ewing Street, just south of St. Marys River -- I thought we should explore this.

I got an email from Rose that was timely and hit the nail on the head:

“Dear Mr. Brickman,

If we are going to have a plethora of roundabouts in Fort Wayne, I wish someone would enlighten drivers of the rules for them, and there are rules! After nearly getting nailed in a double-lane one, I looked it up.

You are never to change lanes once you enter a roundabout; you must decide on a lane before entering based on where you are going to end up. If you are turning right or proceeding straight, you should be in the right lane the whole time. If you will be exiting to the left or making a U-turn, you should be in the left (inside) lane.

I know that roundabouts are supposed to move traffic more efficiently than having a stop light at the intersection. To do that, we all need to know how to navigate them without getting nailed. Thank you for letting me vent.”

Rose, that is what Dipsticks is all about! Dipsticks is a forum to express yourself!

I believe you have stated this issue perfectly. You need to go into the roundabout already knowing what you are going to do. With a plan in mind, you can get into the appropriate lane and move through the intersection quickly but carefully. This is the same as driving a normal intersection. If you know you are going to turn left you merge in advance to the left lane. Why is it that when we come to a traffic circle everyone loses their collective minds?

I think that it’s because they don’t understand that the roundabout requires everyone to slow down and then yield to the cars in the circle before entering. These areas are designed to reduce speeds and make the crossing of the streets safer.

What you gain by the roundabout is that no one is sitting at a light and waiting for it to turn green. How many times have we all sat in our cars waiting for a light when no one else is there? That situation is solved, but slowing and being willing to yield to those who are already in the circle is the trade off.

Until next time, be careful out there, and have a plan where you are going; no one else does.

Ben Brickman is production manager for Fort Wayne Newspapers. Want to vent? Send it to Include all the details you can think of. If your dipstick gets in the paper he'll give you the credit or not. It's your call. You can phone in your Dipstick sightings at 260-461-8285. Ben's also on Facebook, Driving With Dipsticks!

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