Buttoned down and Aroundabout

MANCHESTER - There has certainly been a lot a buzz around the two new roundabouts in the center of town, especially with the holidays upon us. I have heard many great things about the intersection - how well it looks, how it improves the flow of traffic so that a single driver is not waiting for what only seems like hours waiting to turn left - and all of this after many people in and around the town of Manchester criticized the project from the beginning. I was one of those skeptics, although not to the extreme, that was unsure this project would do the purpose it was set out to do, improve traffic flow in the downtown area.

However, I have heard from people around town that some people do not know how to drive around a roundabout. I have nearly gotten in a few accidents myself, nearly being side-swiped twice (once at the button roundabout and once at the main one). This has led me to investigate (and educate) how to correctly drive in and around a roundabout.

Vermont does not have a clear set of rules or regulations, or even guidelines, that contribute on how to drive around a roundabout. Luckily, our neighbors to the west, New York, have some tips and information on how to safely drive through a roundabout.

According to the New York driving manual, a driver should approach the roundabout slowly and look for the street and direction signs that will guide you through the intersection.

It is important to note that all signage for our roundabouts have yet to be installed and that task will be completed sometime in the spring when construction season resumes, according to town officials.

The second tip provided by the New York driver's manual is to yield first to pedestrians attempting to cross the street and to bicyclists that also might be entering the roundabout. The driver must also yield to any car already in the roundabout. The manual states that drivers already in the roundabout should use a signal when exiting the roundabout to avoid any confusion and help avoid accidents.

It is vital, especially with our unique set of a button roundabout and a large roundabout, that drivers are always on the lookout for pedestrians trying to cross the street. I have noticed that most of my attention is geared towards seeing if I can enter the roundabout and then once I have done so shift my attention to see if pedestrians are trying to cross. The priorities should be the other way around. Too many times have I seen pedestrians nearly get hit because a driver was not paying attention.

However, some pedestrians seem to cross the street willy-nilly, stepping out into the street first and then looking to see if traffic is coming. In this case the door swings both ways and pedestrians should be aware of the traffic just as much as drivers should be aware of pedestrians.

This is heightened because of our two roundabouts that are in close proximity to each other. After a Google search of "button roundabouts" a previous story about the topic on the Manchester Journal's website showed up in search results only three links down. Even an image search hardly yielded any results So, lets just say there is not much information on button roundabouts.

What makes our button roundabout different from any others that may be out there is the location of ours. I mentioned before that it is in close proximity to our main roundabout, which adds different elements all together, but the button is also somewhat slanted making travel around in awkward. Taking the time to safely meander through our two roundabouts might be awkward and it might be difficult to get used to, but the overall goal should be safety, not to see how fast we can get thought them.

So, the wrap up a seamlessly opinionated piece on how to drive around our roundabouts keep in mind that our situation is a unique one. This might be the only kind of configuration for an intersection in the country, or even the world, and although some people express there displeasure over the setup, I encourage those people to Google search European roundabouts and see all the crazy designs that have reared there ugly heads over there.


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