Public Domain image from Wikipedia's Roundabouts page

Roundabouts are a traffic controlling device that people either love or hate. They are created in order to keep traffic flowing at a busy intersection, with the theoretical advantage being that anyone in the intersection does not stop and everyone merges in with them. This may work in theory, but many find these to be quite difficult, as many do not know the protocol and congestion ensues.

One of the roundabouts on 8th Avenue (at Magnolia) Chico's famous roundabouts are located on 8th Avenue between Nord Avenue and the Esplanade. 8th Avenue is one of the common routes between these two main roads when driving in Chico. The roundabouts can be found at the intersections of Greenwich Drive, Meadow Road, and Magnolia Avenue.

In June, 2009, a new roundabout was added to Chico at the entrance to Upper Bidwell Park. It is located between Fire Station 5 and Wildwood Park. Manzanita Avenue, East Avenue and Wildwood Avenue (leading to Upper Park Road) are all served by this roundabout. According to the Chico ER, someday Eaton Road will also connect to it. The area where East and Manzanita meet in North Chico was congested during construction, as the roadway was realigned to accommodate the roundabout.

The recent construction on Manzanita Avenue has resulted in TWO more roundabouts on the same road. Both are located east of the new roundabout at the entrance of Upper Bidwell Park. There is now a roundabout at the entry to Hooker Oak Park as well as one at the corner of Manzanita Avenue and Vallombrosa Avenue.

There is information about proper navigation in roundabouts in the DMV's California Driver Handbook (pdf).

Sign from the roundabout at the entrance to Upper Bidwell Park Roundabout sign near Hancock Park in North Chico Another roundabout sign at Hancock Park They have many different roundabout signs

Streets with roundabouts


2009-07-26 10:14:55   I'm one who hates roundabouts.

As one who lived on the east coast for several years, I am familiar with traffic circles and the confusion and carnage they cause.

Roundabouts ought to be outlawed. They are confusing and dangerous when there is any degree of traffic using them. I'll use a a tee intersection where now there is a roundabout as an example. There used to be clarity. There were three stop signs. To turn left you stopped, signaled a left turn, waited your turn, and turned left crossing the opposing traffic lane. Nice and safe if you follow the simple rules.

Now, that same vehicle has to circle right, still cross the opposing traffic lane entrance and continue halfway around and continue on for another quarter of the circle and turn left. The driver is busy checking sign one. Is this where I turn? Maybe he slows down and gives a false indication he is turning there. No, this isn't where he wants to get off. He resumes speed and he goes on. Very confusing signals are given off.

Being in the opposing traffic lane, I have no idea what the vehicle will do until the vehicle does it. There is no turn signaling that can make any sense. Everything is a right turn. How could you signal for taking the SECOND right turn? You signal would be interpreted as being for the FIRST right turn. That is why these thing are a scourge and are confusing. Before, a vehicle went through or it turned. Now, everyone turns. When everyone is turning, no one knows exactly what anyone else will do.

In addition, you have to read signs to know which exit you must take. While reading these signs in a state of anxiety about getting it right, you are distracted from paying attention to other traffic. This is okay when you are the only one in the death trap roundabout, but a potential disaster when traffic is brisk.

No, these are a bad idea. A very bad idea.

The city should tear these out and restore intersections that have worked for decades and are easy to understand.

The engineers who dreamed these up should be fired for incompetence and the ones who promote them sent to jail for endangering the public. —

2009-07-26 12:08:44   Roundabouts are also awful for pedestrians because of the constant traffic flow. I can't tell if someone is going to let me cross if they entered the roundabout from the other side. And typically, they kind of zip through and because they are making a sweeping turn, so I don't trust that they're paying very good attention. I live next to a roundabout now in Davis and I get nervous every time using the round about on foot or in the vehicle. Needless to say I avoid it as much as possible. Yeah, they're great at keeping traffic flowing but are not so good at reinforcing good driving habits. If these are going to go in more places, the DMV needs to ensure all new drivers are tested using them. That seems to be a far way off, though. —RyanMikulovsky

2009-07-26 17:31:21   I see both the pros and cons to them. I like the way they alleviate traffic (or will once the morons of this town learn how to read) which also helps reduce pollution. I am certainly not a tree hugging hippy but coming from Southern California, the last thing Chico needs is smog. I see Ryan's point about pedestrian hazards, but I do not see this as a fault of the roundabout concept, but the intelligence level of those driving through them. I think drivers ed training, especially in cities with these roundabouts, should make sure to train their students on them and maybe a few pieces in the ER about safe driving would be appropriate. I saw all the lame articles that were published when the original on Eaton/Manzanita was placed and they were jokes. I wish that newspaper would hire some real journalists and do some real public service for a change. —JohnNash