This will be the view entering the River Road roundabout on Chemainus Road heading south. (Photo by Don Bodger)

This will be the view entering the River Road roundabout on Chemainus Road heading south. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Drivers contemplate roundabout logic

Upgrade will make traffic flow smoothly from River Road onto Chemainus Road

The new River Road roundabout that’s part of the Chemainus Road Corridor Upgrade Project seems to have peoples’ heads spinning.

There has been great debate again on social media and on the streets about the proper rules of the road for roundabouts. We’ve had requests from the public to publish the manual, if you will, of what should and shouldn’t be done.

We contacted David Conway, North Cowichan’s director of engineering, for his advice on the subject.

”Our preference is to refer people to ICBC’s web site on how to drive through a roundabout,” he replied. “It’s a fairly detailed explanation of graphics and text and covers drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.”

So we’d advise those interested in either brushing up on their roundabout etiquette or for those who still might not be clear on certain aspects to check that out.

The bottom line is drivers seem to make it far more complicated than needed. And, of course, there are those drivers who think they know the rules and actually don’t, as they cause chaos by flipping off others for perceived wrongdoings.

The concept of entering the circle and leaving is actually quite simple, but the presence of pedestrians and cyclists often causes some confusion.

The roundabouts are designed to keep traffic moving and actually work quite well at intersections that previously were backed up for long stretches.

River Road is one of them. People will find it a lot easier to go left from River into Chemainus than before, even though there is some skepticism being expressed.

A three-way stop would have been a lot worse. At three- and four-way stops, people tend to look at each other and no one can decide who should proceed next. Then, suddenly they both go at the same time.

With the roundabouts and for those wanting to go left from River onto Chemainus Road, all you have to worry about is the traffic to your left. You don’t even need to worry about what traffic is coming from the right.

Once it’s clear for you to enter the traffic circle, you keep going around and before you know it, you make a right turn signal to exit and you’re on your way into Chemainus, as long as someone doesn’t speed to cut in front of you at the last minute so you have to slam on the brakes to avoid a collision.

As always, those are the things that cause problems: driver stupidity, like driving across the middle of the roundabout instead of taking the corner properly. The space is there for truck drivers who need to do that, but not ordinary cars.

Maybe Chemainus can use this latest roundabout addition as a tourist promotion and market it along with the murals. Perhaps that will be of interest to Krystal Adams, the Chemainus Business Improvement Association’s executive director.

Roundabout by Yes would be a natural to adapt as a theme song.