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Effective traffic riding - roundabouts and complex junctions

Home / Techniques : Balance and Coordination

Knowledge level: Beginner

Commuting

Article posted: 30/08/2013

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On today’s roads with much higher volumes of traffic cyclists need a diverse set of skills and knowledge, in order to ride effectively and safely. They need to act in a way that's respectful of the Highway Code and other road users.

The British Cycling guides to effective traffic riding will help you become a more visible and safer rider, whether commuting, training or riding for pleasure. In this article we look at roundabouts and complex junctions.

Roundabouts and complex junctions

Following the techniques from the other effective traffic riding articles; thinking like a driver should allow a cyclist to negotiate these road layouts without too much trouble. It probably goes without saying that youshould take the lane appropriate to your intended exit, just like a driver. Again, how early this is done will depend on your own speed as well as the volume and speed of the traffic. If traffic is backed up on the approach, filtering as above applies too. However, slightly different considerations need to be taken on reaching the roundabout and whilst actually on it.

Although occasionally unavoidable, the secret to smooth negotiation of roundabouts is to do it without stopping. On the approach, a cyclist’s superior all round vision should enable her/him to anticipate the speed of traffic already on the roundabout coming from the right and adjust their own speed in order to slot into gaps in the flow. The rider’s superior acceleration over short distances allows them to do this, where a driver could not, and is perfectly acceptable if done without causing another vehicle to have to change speed or direction.

Once on the roundabout, the idea is to keep command of the appropriate lane, whilst influencing by eye contact and negotiation, drivers in adjacent lanes, thus preparing the way for any lane changes required for a smooth exit. The Highway Code is ambiguous on this and seems to recommend riding around the outside of a roundabout. This is definitely at odds with good practice, as it puts the cyclist at the mouth of each intermediate entry and exit point. The rider should endeavour to stay in the flow of traffic which is going the same way, making their intentions clear to drivers around them all the time, and holding the lane until clear of the roundabout, only reverting to secondary riding position when it’s safe to be overtaken.

Find information on positioning on the road and riding in slower moving traffic here.

To find out more about British Cycling's, Cycle Training programmes, or to become an instructor, click here.

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