|*Image from Bicycle Times|
|Flow of a roundabout in the U.S.|
*Image found here
|The red arrow is used to illustrate that there is in fact a yield sign for all directions of traffic.|
It all seems simple enough to me. In the U.S. the traffic is coming in a counter-clockwise manner, therefore, looking to ones right is not going to help. We are taught that we yield to traffic in the roundabout, and therefore logically one would think that s/he would look to his/her left when approaching one of these circles (of course this would be opposite in many European countries). Instead, there seems to be mass confusion on the part of drivers who either yield to everyone because they have no idea who should be permitted to go first, or they do not bother to look or yield at all and simply roar through the roundabout.
Part of the roundabouts purpose is to allow better traffic flow and decrease major accidents, but I'm not certain that this is always the case. One site suggests, roundabouts "can greatly increase motorist safety... since traffic is forced to slow down and the possibility for head-on collisions is eliminated..." but the same article goes on to suggest that cycling through roundabouts could be safer for cyclists, depending on how they are designed. If all involved are not paying attention, however, this all seems like a great recipe for disaster. As a cyclist, if an automobile hits me, it's not going to be a minor accident. In addition, with an elementary school very close to the intersection above, there could easily be children running across the street, not to mention the multitude of pedestrians frequently in the area due to the adjacent park.
The conclusion I have reached is that trying to have a conversation with motorists doesn't seem to work (even when I'm not upset), and because I have no desire to die at the hands of an automobile driver, I must always be aware of everything taking place and know that even if I have the right-of-way, the driver may not stop - which means that I have to be ready to apply the brakes, regardless of the situation or whose turn it may be to proceed. Perhaps you've found better ways to deal with the roundabout or other tricky situations with shared roads? Your thoughts are certainly welcome.