Letters to the Editor.

Roundabouts are not a four-way stop

Drivers are supposed to filter in and keep traffic moving

As a reluctant passenger some years ago in my brother’s car Down Under, while he played fast and loose in the fast lane of the Pacific Highway north of Sydney, held the steering wheel with his knees while conducting business on his mobile, I was compelled to decline his offer to drive me to the airport (a five-hour trip down the coast) on my last day in New South Wales.

While he couldn’t understand why I did that he was, however, always quite able to negotiate the double-lane multi roundabouts on city outskirts, without hesitation. Yes, two-lane concentric traffic circles with four entry/exit points.

Eerily similar to the same roundabout riot in England decades ago, the favourite haunt of uncompromising Brit driving testers hoping to fail you. These double roundabouts mean every driver approaching has to know exactly where she/he is headed — inner lane to drive into the local town, outer lane to continue on the motorway. It’s mandatory that you locate where your exit is on the circle without stopping or switching lanes without warning.

Which brings me back to the single lane traffic circles opposite the Best Western Hotel on Henry Road and the one at the top of Oak Street, both in Chemainus. Let’s omit the ‘newcomer’ third circle at the River Road T-junction, since our Courier editor and reporter Don most ably examined that phenomenon in the Nov. 19 paper. His opening sentence ended with “…seems to have peoples’ heads spinning.”

In truth, many drivers’ heads have “spun” with confusion in the Valley, and still do, ever since the Cowichan Valley Regional District introduced the first traffic circles all over the city and environs back in 2009. With little warning, and then without directions on carefully placed signs at each entry point on the quadrant for the benefit of local drivers who genuinely never had to negotiate a roundabout in a driving test or afterwards. These annoying “obstructions” were not really a Canadian thing, back when. It’s possible the Municipality didn’t want to spend that amount of money on helpful signage at the many new roundabouts. “Let them figure it out for themselves.”

Even so, the roundabout invasion in the Valley was 11 years ago, more than enough time for drivers of all ages to properly acquaint themselves, with assistance from driving instructors and/or the Highways Department, with the correct procedure for negotiating the circles starting with understanding the basic ‘right of way’ protocol.

After checking with motor vehicle rules they confirmed what I already learned in the United Kingdom: should two vehicles arrive at the roundabout simultaneously at two entry points, the car on your right has right of way, so yield accordingly. It’s astonishing how many drivers who do have that right-of-way will instead stop and dither on the edge. It’s almost comical how often, upon reaching the roundabout on Oak Street, a driver on my right (who has spotted my vehicle approaching) is actually waiting — at an otherwise empty circle — for this or some other car to arrive, instead of promptly exercising her/his right-of-way. To put it simply, the roundabout is not a four-way stop! It’s designed for drivers to “filter in” appropriately and safely to keep traffic moving and save time and frustration.

But Canadians are renowned for being nice and polite. However, being too polite on the open road and, more dangerously, at an intersection can result in confusion, annoyance and even accidents.

Here’s another scenario: the intersection where Mays Road crosses Bell McKinnon outside Duncan. The main road being Bell McKinnon, the two stop signs are on Mays, either side. My car signals left to cross over to the southbound lane on Bell McKinnon, while the pick-up facing me is not signalling, it needs to cross both lanes of the main road and go down the hill on Mays to the highway.

This driver has right-of-way because he’s already in his lane and is not turning. So, I do the correct thing and wait for him before turning left, safely. But no, the driver of the pick-up is not moving, he’s waiting … for my vehicle to turn left illegally across his bow. I continue to wait, as I should. So does he, until he finally shoots across Bell McKinnon, giving me a silly blast of his horn. Hesitation, for the wrong or “just being nice” reason, can so easily result in a collision mid-stream, angry confrontations and arguments with ICBC.

This happens to be one of the reasons they invented … Roundabouts.

“With the best of intentions”,

J.D. Rollinson,



Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An Island Health nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy Island Health)
Health authority opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents

Health authority anticipates more than 40,000 people will be immunized over the next month

Cowichan Valley Regional District.
Business incubation and acceleration program to strengthen Cowichan food ecosystem

Support for the development of thriving food and beverage sector

Mount Brenton Golf Course unveils its board of directors for 2021-22. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Fritsch elected president of Mount Brenton Golf Course board of directors

Annual general meeting conducted by Zoom for the first time

Municipality of North Cowichan.
North Cowichan receives community resiliency fire smart funding

More effective wildfire protection regulations will be implemented

Municipality of North Cowichan.
North Cowichan thinking collaboratively on provincial funding

Contract for outfall relocation awarded pending City of Duncan approval

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Most Read