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Posted on: October 20, 2023

Roundabouts in North Bend: where, why, and how to use them

Roundabouts_where, why, how

Over the past two decades, North Bend has completed a series of roundabouts as part of its ongoing work to increase the flow of traffic and safety throughout town. Curious about the ins and outs of this traffic calming device? Read on to learn why North Bend has them, how to use them, and where to learn more.

The City completed its first city-constructed roundabout in 2008. Located at the intersection of North Bend Way and Cedar Falls Way, the project has improved traffic flow between the east and west sides of town. It also increased the safety and ease of access between neighborhoods and local parks, earning a 2009 Award of Excellence for Best City Project from the Federal Highway Administration.

Since then, the City has invested in three more roundabouts, with plans in the works for another at Bendigo Boulevard/State Route 202 and Mt. Si Boulevard. 

Where roundabouts are in North Bend: You will find roundabouts at the following local intersections:

  • North Bend Way and Cedar Falls Way
  • North Bend Way and Park Street
  • North Bend Way and 436th Avenue
  • SE 136th Street and 436th Avenue
  • Bendigo Boulevard/SR 202 and exit 30

Why roundabouts are in North Bend: Modern roundabouts do a lot for transportation in communities of all sizes. According to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), roundabouts typically reduce fatal crashes by 90 percent and cut car-crash injuries by at least 75 percent, even while accommodating a higher volume of cars.

By eliminating the need for full stops, roundabouts help alleviate congestion, and they minimize travel time as vehicles can merge seamlessly into the circulating flow, effectively increasing traffic capacity by 30 to 50 percent in an intersection.

That seamless flow of vehicles in a roundabout does more than increase traffic capacity; it also reduces greenhouse gas emissions – less vehicle idling equates to a reduction in fuel consumption. Roundabouts also preserve local viewsheds – less traffic signals that disrupt your view of the Cascades. And, they reduce noise pollution.

In addition, roundabouts are less expensive to operate and maintain than traffic signals, with less annual maintenance costs, electricity, and supplies for traffic lights. 

How to drive a single-lane roundabout: Single-lane roundabouts have ONE WAY signs mounted in the center island. The signage helps guide traffic and it indicates that the driver must stay to the right of the center island.

  1. As you approach a roundabout, there will be a YIELD sign. Slow down, watch for pedestrians and bicyclists, and be prepared to stop if necessary.
  2. Upon entering, yield to circulating traffic on the left, but do not stop if the way is clear.
  3. As you pass the exit prior to the desired exit, turn on your right turn signal and watch for pedestrians and bicyclists as you exit.

How to drive a multi‐lane roundabout: Some roundabouts have multiple lanes. For those, it is important to choose the correct lane based on your intended destination. The right lane is generally used for right turns and the immediate right exit, while the left lane is used for continuing straight or making left turns.

  1. Get in the correct lane early, and never pass or change lanes in a roundabout. Observe pavement markings and signs. 
  2. Yield to ALL traffic already in the roundabout, even if you are only entering the right lane (or outside lane) of the roundabout. Give large trucks (with long trailers) room to take up both lanes as they approach, circulate, and exit the roundabout.
  3. When exiting from the inside lane, check your blind spot and the lane next to you to make sure the outside lane is clear. Use your turn signal to indicate that you are exiting.

Watch a video about driving multi-lane roundabouts HERE. Watch a video about driving single-lane roundabouts HERE

Can you walk onto North Bend roundabouts? No. Our roundabouts do not have safe ways to walk on or exit the center islands. The concrete apron encircling the outside of a roundabout island is often used by trucks, making it easier for long vehicles to turn as needed. People can get injured or worse by attempting to walk onto roundabout islands or placing signage on them. City staff will remove signs in the roundabouts, so please do not place them there.

Curious about other transportation projects in North Bend? Visit the City’s Six-year Transportation Improvement Plan webpage to learn about future roundabouts and other infrastructure projects planned for our community.

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