The New Huntingfield Roundabout Cycle Lanes: Here’s Why They Are Dangerous

I was recently made aware of the design of the Huntingfield Roundabout at the end of the new Kingston bypass.  This new roundabout incorporates a bicycle lane around the outside.  Incorporating bicycle facilities in the new road design is fantastic news, except for one big problem: around the world councils and road authorities are removing bicycle lanes from roundabouts for safety reasons1, and encouraging a dual approach, depending on the confidence level of the cyclist:

  • Either leave the road and negotiate the roundabout via pedestrian crossings, or,
  • Merge with car traffic when approaching the roundabout, and negotiate the roundabout in the centre of the vehicle lane.

Unfortunately, the Huntingfield Roundabout has a really strange compromise: bicycle lanes around the outside, but cyclists must give way to car traffic exiting the roundabout at each exit.  That means that bicycles are giving way to traffic approaching them from behind!  Perhaps this was in response to problems with a bike lane where cars give way to cyclists, but in my view this approach is just as dangerous.

Bicycle lanes on the new Huntingfield Roundabout

I just can’t see how this design is going to be safe:

  • While it’s certainly possible for a cyclist to give way, it’s counter-intuitive to how a roundabout normally works when driving a car, and so unless all cyclists are aware of the special rules for cyclists in the roundabout there’s definitely a real risk of collision when they fail to give way.
  • But a similar problem applies for car drivers who are not aware of these unusual rules: they would give way to a cyclist that was about to cross their exit, which leads to an ambiguous situation and causes risks for other drivers and the cyclist who will not be expecting it.
  • Moreover, this special cyclists-give-way-to-traffic-behind-them rule will lead to drivers unconciously driving in the same way at other intersections, overtaking a cyclist and immediately turning left in front of them, causing T-bone accidents.  This is already an issue today, but adding new and confusing road rules will exacerbate it!
  • Update (28/11): One of my friends (who happens to design bike lanes for a living) noted that cars would tend to stop on top of the bike lane when waiting to enter the roundabout.
  • Finally, I (and many other riders) would tend to avoid the bike lanes anyway, both because of the frustration of stopping potentially 4 times just to get around the roundabout, and also because one is more visible when riding within the traffic lane at a roundabout.  But this will cause resentment amongst drivers who just see a cyclist not using the bike lane!  (Stop 4 times?  Yes, a common lunch time loop ride goes up Channel Highway, round the roundabout, and back again down the highway).

 It’s probably a little late now, but I wish the relevant authorities would reconsider this design!

If you are keen, here’s another opinionated post on Kingston’s on-road bicycle facilities!

(Yes, of course, with help from Wikipedia and other sources):

[1] R. Schnüll, J. Lange, I. Fabian, M. Kölle, F. Schütte, D. Alrutz, H.W. Fechtel, J. Stellmacher-Hein, T. Brückner, H. Meyhöfer: Sicherung von Radfahrern an städtischen Knotenpunkten [Safeguarding bicyclists in Urban Intersections], Bericht der Bundesanstalt für Straßenwesen zum Forschungsprojekt 8952, 1992

4 thoughts on “The New Huntingfield Roundabout Cycle Lanes: Here’s Why They Are Dangerous

  1. I agree-typically, bike lanes aren’t a great idea around a roundabout. Either there’s a lot of vehicle traffic and it’s extremely dangerous, or there isn’t a lot of vehicle traffic, in which case, bike lanes are probably not needed. The flaw is that a roundabout is designed so you only need to look for one stream of traffic; once you’re looking for bikes, especially at a different angle than the vehicle traffic, it gets dicey. It is possible to do it well, if there’s good sight distance, etc. Ideally bikes would be completely separated from traffic, and would cross individual legs parallel to crosswalks.

  2. As a cyclist who commutes Hobart to Margate, 5 day’s per week, all I can say it is still the un-educated motorist that is at fault. When you have clearance and merge around to the right, motorists will still speed up and go around your front on this intersection. Typically from experience in the afternoons it is Tradies in 4WD’s and also usually expensive cars (Toorack Tractors, Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes, Audi etc) with Hutchins, Collegiate and Fahan school stickers being driven by soccer moms). You indicate, look over your right shoulder, look again, merge around and then zoom, in a flash, secure in a 1.8 tonne vehicle, the cyclist is the victim. My answer, drive a 51 tonne German Tiger 1 Main Battle tank and merge in front of/over the car concerned. (Well not really!)
    I now record number plates of “indifferent drivers” and post official complaints to TASPOL (write a statement of complaint) about indifferent people who don’t care. One cyclist I spoke with said “he locates the car (through “sources”) and at night collects the Schroeder valve from two tyres”.
    I do not condone or accept that behaviour at all! It is all as it is illegal and does road users no favours, but I can certainly understand that attitude.
    Road transport in Tasmania is especially motor vehicle driven due to very poor public transport.
    Look at the state of the A1 highway with 100’s of trucks a day carting 45 tonnes each, where rail carries thousands of tonnes. If Tasmanian rail had dollar for dollar as roads have had, we would have dual track HST from Hobart to Burnie with trains every 1/2 hour.
    Rail works, but is not allowed here in Tasmania.
    The roads with educated drivers, cyclists, horse riders, agricultural and construction machinery, runners and walkers are there, all funded by the Australian taxpayer to use.
    Let us all use them properly or anarchy will reign.
    Help the poor motorist who does the wrong thing and is attacked by a cyclist or other pedestrian.
    I have had people stop and abuse me in a bakery in Margate about being a cyclist and not paying registration, and I should be forced by law to wear dayglow yellow (sorry I was in orange) sorry to that person, informed the individual that I have two registered V8 motor cars, a small car (wife’s), 19′ boat trailer and a box trailer. As I am on my bike that leaves two cars of my very own not being used so, do I pay my way?
    Course I do. Let alone the GST/Excise/State Government taxation on my gallon of gasoline. 50% goes to government, but my bike runs over potholes in the road.

    PS boat does 4 MPG at 40 knots, 2 MPG at 60 knots, so the roads are funded by my boat when minimal funding is put into our waterways. 1 gallon is 4.5 litres and at AU$1-25/L. 1 mile is 1.6 Km. 98 RON MOGAS fuel.

    Education and Tolerance is needed in our busy lives to allow the road infrastructure, so thoroughly well managed and maintained by the Tasmanian Department of State Growth to work.

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