MCN IAM Better Riding Guide: Tackling Roundabouts

By Stefan Bartlett -

General news

 01 October 2012 14:00

Most collisions between bikes and other vehicles happen at junctions like roundabouts. Many of these accidents can be attributed to failure to look.

Earlier this year, our survey found that sixty-nine per cent of motorcyclists have been cut-up by another road user who didn’t look properly – in other words – a SMIDSY incident.

But regardless of who causes the crash – rider or driver – it is almost always the rider that comes off worse.

So whether you’ve just returned to biking or are embarking on your first time on the bike, knowing how to stay safe on roundabouts will make sure you become a skilful and confident rider.

This guide from MCN and the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) will help you deal safely with roundabouts.

• Generally the safest course for a bike to take through a roundabout, in the absence of other road users, is the shortest route from entry to exit. Taking a ‘straight line’ through the roundabout reduces the amount of time a bike needs to be leant over. But this approach is only safe if traffic and other conditions allow.

• When faced with other road users you will need to plan accordingly. Correct positioning and signalling are crucial and should always be coupled with a decisive but safe entry into the traffic flow.

• Judge the speed and flow of other vehicles on and near the roundabout as you approach. Then aim to time your arrival with a suitable gap so that you don’t have to stop, or cause an obstruction to any other traffic. You’ll find that a slightly slower approach often allows unobstructed progress, meaning you can negotiate and exit the roundabout much quicker than a rider who races up to the line only to be forced to stop.

• In light traffic, you should only have to reduce your speed very slightly to enter the roundabout safely, but always bear in mind that other drivers at the previous entry may be thinking the same thing. Always be vigilant and never assume that other drivers will do as their signalling suggests.

• Your position on the approach to the roundabout will depend on the exit you intend to take and the position of other traffic. As a general rule, think about moving towards the centre of the road if you want to turn right. Select the correct gear for your speed, check your mirrors frequently and accelerate smoothly onto the roundabout.

• If you are turning right then indicate right and follow the right turn lane, if marked. As you pass the exit before yours, use your mirrors to check behind you before indicating left and consider a blind-spot check to your left to ensure the space you intend moving into is clear. Then, if it’s clear, carefully move across to the exit.

• Extra caution is required if you have to cross white lane markings. Keep your bike as upright as possible and ride as smoothly as you can. These lines can be slippery in wet conditions. Roundabouts are also a prime spot for diesel spills that are often in a spiral around the roundabout, so you will inevitably have to cross them as you exit.

• If you’re turning left then you should approach in the left-hand lane and indicate accordingly until you reach your exit. If you are going straight over the roundabout then use the left lane. If it’s busy then consider using the centre or right lane. Make good use of mirrors, always consider a blind-spot check before changing your bike’s position on the road and indicate left at the exit preceding yours.

• Before exiting a roundabout always consider a quick blind-spot check to the left and be aware of slow- moving traffic such as cyclists.

• No matter which direction we are headed, left, right or straight ahead, when we enter a roundabout, unless it is a small “blob of paint” mini-roundabout, we will be turning to the left. So remember to check out any possible blind-spot to your left before turning your bike to the left and possibly pulling into or across the path of another vehicle.

• Single mini-roundabouts are rarely a problem, but bunch a series of them together and some drivers seem to lose the plot completely, creating a real hazard. Approach a cluster of mini-roundabouts one-at-a-time and treat each one individually. They should pose no threat if well planned, other than the need for increased awareness of other drivers’ behaviour. Always be safe, observant and decisive, and, where possible, avoid riding onto the central white circle.

Straight over

• Approach the roundabout in the left lane and stay in that lane once you’re on the roundabout. Signal left when you pass the exit before yours.

• If the left lane is busy, consider using the right-hand or centre lane. Use the same technique on the roundabout, but be observant, making good use of mirrors and/or a ‘Blind Spot Check’ when exiting.

Turning right

• Signalling right, take the right-hand lane into the roundabout and stay in that lane once on the roundabout.

• As you pass the exit before yours, consider using your mirrors, indicate left and, observing carefully, move across to exit the roundabout.

• The number of lanes entering and exiting, affects your approach and signalling

• Use your indicators to confirm your intention and position your machine decisively.

Turning left

• Get in the left-hand lane and consider signalling left on your approach. Continue to indicate until you reach your exit.

For more riding advice, get a copy of How to be a Better Rider, Advanced Motorcycling the Essential Guide. It costs £9.99 and is available from the IAM. Contact www.iam.org.uk