All you need to know about Roundabouts

What is a roundabout?

RoundaboutRoundabouts are becoming more and more common across the country and in Nanaimo. A roundabout is a circular intersection where drivers travel counter-clockwise around a center island. They are generally used on major roads to control the flow of traffic through an intersection as an alternative to traffic signals. Drivers yield at entry to traffic in the roundabout, then enter the intersection and exit at their desired street. Watch a video about 'What is a Roundabout' (by WSDOT – Washington State Department of Transportation).

Learn about using the new Rutherford Road Roundabout

Why Roundabouts – the Benefits?

In comparison to a signalized intersection, roundabouts can:

  • reduce crashes by 35%, injury by 76% and fatalities by 90%.
  • increase intersection capacity by up to 50%.
  • reduce vehicle speeds while requiring fewer complete vehicle stops.
  • reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption.
  • lower capital costs for new intersections (retrofits may be similar or greater cost).
  • lower operating and maintenance costs at all intersections.
  • provide aesthetic benefits for the community.
  • improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians.

Watch a video about 'Safety Benefits of Roundabouts' (by WSDOT):

How to use Roundabouts?

There are a few key things to remember about travelling through Roundabouts as a driver, cyclist or pedestrian:


  • Reduce your speed and choose your lane (if more than one lane).
  • Watch for road signs.
  • Watch for pedestrians and cyclists and be ready to stop.


  • Always yield to traffic in the Roundabout.
  • Wait for a safe gap in the traffic, remembering that those in the Roundabout have the right-of-way


  • Enter the roundabout to your right.
  • Continue counter-clockwise until you reach your exit.
  • Don't overtake cyclists riding within the Roundabout.


  • Use your right turn signal before exiting.
  • Watch for pedestrians and cyclists.


Cyclists have two choices to ride through a Roundabout, based on your level of comfort riding in traffic:

  1. Riding with vehicular traffic: In advance of the Roundabout, merge with traffic when safe, occupy the lane and proceed as a vehicle.
  2. Off-street separated cycling pathway: Prior to the Roundabout, exit the bike lane onto the sidewalk and share the pedestrian pathway with pedestrians.
  • Reduce your speed when entering onto and travelling along the pathway.
  • Be aware of pedestrians you're sharing the pathway with.
  • Dismount and use the marked crosswalks to cross the intersecting streets, as a pedestrian would.
  • Rejoin the bike lane or shoulder of the road.

Watch a video (by WSDOT) about 'How to Use a Roundabout for Cyclist and Pedestrians:


Pedestrian crosswalks — designated by pavement markings — are located approximately one car length away from the Roundabout. You should cross only at these marked locations. Don't cross to the centre island.

Although vehicles and cyclists are required to yield to pedestrians, you should not initiate a crossing unless there's an adequate gap in traffic or all approaching vehicles have stopped.

It is important to note that a dedicated bicycle path may also connect to these crosswalks. In these situations, be aware that you're sharing the crosswalks and pathways with cyclists.


Where are the Existing Roundabouts in Nanaimo?

BoxwoodBoxwood Rd. and Dufferin Cres.










GodfreyGodfrey Rd. and Big Bear Ridge










 Turner Rd. and Linley Valley DrLinley Valley Dr Roundabout1









What are Traffic Circles and how do they differ from Roundabouts?

traffic_circlesA Traffic Circle is a circular intersection used in residential areas to help reduce vehicle speeds and collisions. Traffic Circles are often used for traffic calming and are typically much smaller than Roundabouts. While they retain a central island, they typically don't have splitter islands or other features seen in Roundabouts. Generally the rules for driving through a Traffic Circle are the same as Roundabout. The traffic in the circle have the right of way.


Where are the existing Traffic Circles in Nanaimo?

kenwill & butcher

Kenwill Dr. and Butcher Dr.











Prideaux St &Hecate st

Prideaux St. and Hecate St.









Beringer Blvd. and Poet Trail Dr

Beringer Blvd & Poets Trial Dr











Brickyard Broadway traffic circleBrickyord Traffic circle1








Wentworth St. and Kennedy St.

Wentworth and Kennedy










The information in this publication is intended to provide general information only and is not intended to provide legal or professional advice. We have used plain language to help you understand your optional policy and some of the laws related to the topic of this publication. Information in this document is subject to change without notice. You should follow the more detailed wording and requirements of current applicable laws and regulations or policy, even if they contradict the wording and requirements set out within this page.

Last updated: March 6, 2024

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