Navigating roundabouts in The Villages

Dave Lawrence

For those that live in or visit The Villages, roundabouts are a major part of the traffic control design. There are already over 30 roundabouts in our hometown with more to come.
For cars, trucks, trollies, motorcycles, street legal golf carts and bicycles, the roundabout is a type of circular intersection where road traffic flows almost continuously in one direction around a central island.  It requires traffic entering the circle to give the right of way (yield) to traffic already in the circle. Since there are no bike lanes in the roundabouts in The Villages, cyclists must merge into traffic prior to entering the circle.  Expect the cyclist to ride in the center of the lane before entering the circle because the roadway is not wide enough to accommodate a bicycle, a motor vehicle and the 3 feet that needs to separate them.
Consistent and predictable behavior is necessary for the roundabout to work safely and effectively.  If a driver is already in the circle, that driver has the right of way and should not stop for entering traffic. Do not stop for bicycles.  The well intentioned driver who stops while in the circle, places themselves and others at risk of a rear end impact or cause a trailing vehicle to swerve into another lane.  Each cyclist MUST yield upon entering the roundabout. Conversely, when there is a cyclist or group of cyclists already in the circle, drivers entering should not attempt to insert themselves in front of the oncoming cyclists. Please be aware that many of these cyclists are traveling at the 20 mph speed limit and like a motor vehicle, can use either lane. A particularly dangerous situation occurs when a vehicle attempts to pass cyclists in the circle just before taking an exit.
When on the roadways, cyclists are drivers and must follow all of the traffic laws and retain all of the same rights as a driver of a motor vehicle.
In their “Guide to Modern Roundabouts”, FDOT lists the following rules for navigating a roundabout:
1. Slow to 10-15 mph on approach to a roundabout

2. In multi-lane roundabouts, follow signs and markings to determine the lane(s) that will serve your destination

3. Yield right-of-way to bicyclists merging into the entry lane before the bike lane ends

4. Yield right-of-way to pedestrians crossing the entry lane

5. Yield right-of-way to motorists already in the circulatory roadway when it is safe to do so

6. Turn right onto the circulatory roadway when it is safe to do so

7. When you approach your destination street, use your right-turn signal and exit the roundabout

8. Yield right-of-way to pedestrians crossing the exit lane

Villager Dave Lawrence is a member of the Sumter Landing Bicycle Club.