Feb 132013


Photo credit: Darrell Stone

At the latest NCM meeting the topic of roundabouts attracted a great deal of lively and informed discussion. The above photo shows the large roundabout in Wickham at Cowper St, with its quite expensive (so we were informed at the meeting) bike markings. It looks quite good in terms of providing a safe place for cyclists to ride, but appearances can be deceptive. The solid green areas designate where cyclists can ride, hopefully with safety, and the honeycombed area is where they need to be aware that they do not have right of way while alerting drivers that riders may be on the roundabout. As this is a roundabout where traffic speeds are high and there are two lanes of traffic, it would be difficult for all but the most experienced and fit vehicular cyclists to navigate safely.

Photo credit: Darrell Stone

This one is outside the Crowne Plaza on Wharf Road, where there is only one lane of traffic and much slower traffic. The cyclists share the space with cars and the sharrows are there to let everyone know that. This solution also costs substantially less than the green lanes in the first photo.


Photo credit: Vicki Coughlan

Photo credit: Vicki Coughlan


This one is near Marketown, the expensive green lane that feels quite safe to ride in as it appears to clearly designate a place for cyclists to ride. However, due to the small diameter of the roundabout and the fact that it is only a three way roundabout, cars which enter from two of the arms, then exit in the direction of the lane shown, will encroach into the green lane area, possibly side-swiping any cyclists there! And the bike lane is not very wide as you can see from the second photo.






roundabout dumaresq

Pboto credit: Google streetview

This one is on Dumaresq Street and Beaumont Street and, as you can see, the roadway narrows as it approaches the intersection,greatly diminishing the area for cyclists to ride, and taking away the possibility of bypassing the roundabout altogether, which would be the safest option for those turning left.

It was agreed at the meeting that roundabouts are not cycle friendly and that traffic lights or stop signs or giveway signs are preferable. Every roundabout needs to be treated differently, depending on its nature and surroundings. Do you know of any roundabout treatments that are cycle friendly?

  8 Responses to “Roundabouts in Newcastle”

  1. The several roundabouts on the New England Highway between Maitland and the outskirts of Rutherford are nothing short of diabolical.

    Perhaps we should engage RMS in some remedial activity on roundabouts.

    The workaround for the roundabout at Maitland station is via the overpass pedestrian bridge then thru town and the long bridge and then under the highway to Bungaree St (near Bunnings) which while convoluted gets you away from the Trezinski bridge over the rail lines which is not cycle friendly.

  2. I think that 2 lane roundabouts are bad news for cyclists, as there is no safe way for a cyclist to make a right turn at these roundabouts. As a motorist you would start in the inner lane then cross the outer lane to exit, but a cyclist would be foolish to try this. The other option is to stay in the outer lane, but this brings you into conflict with cars going straight ahead. To try to go 3/4 around the circle in the outer green lane puts you in conflict with exiting cars at the first and 2nd exit. None of these is a safe strategy, and the only realistic answer is to not build two lane roundabouts.

    The problem with the Parry St one at Market town as shown in the photo is that the green paint suggests to cyclists that they can ride straight through, but in fact they have to give way to cars entering from the right.
    Ben Ewald

    • That is a good point regarding the Market town roundabout Ben, when I rode through the roundabout, it felt that I did not have to give way to cars, that the lane gave me a right of way that is separate from cars, but with the problem of turning cars there, the cars need to have right of way. Actually, all the bikes I saw there were using the footpath except me, as it is wide and unused by pedestrians, at least when I was there.

  3. There is a discussion on the Sydney Cyclist forum on the topic of the authority of the green painted lanes, see this link especially the comment of Bill Parker http://www.sydneycyclist.com/forum/topics/green-bike-lanes-do-they-have-any-real-meaning?id=1321712%3ATopic%3A503069&page=3#comments
    Apparently the green lanes do not carry much protection for cyclists.

  4. They are about to start introducing the green painted lanes in the Lake Macquarie City Council area. Should we invite some of the bureaucrats to come on a bike ride with a group of us so we can have our two bob’s worth before they come up with something totally ineffective – or dangerous?

    • I think that is an excellent idea! The roundabouts featured in this post are a good start. I also like the idea of a separate crossing for bikes and pedestrians if the locale suits that arrangement, which is not always be case.

  5. […] and here and there is a discussion going on about them at the Newcastle Cycleways Movement site here as well. It would be good to hear others’ views on them. Like this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  6. I think there is on optimal solution for roundabouts and as per usual it has been put in practice by the dutch http://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2011/08/11/roundabout-with-safe-cycling-facilities/. Interestingly it does involve “green” lanes, but the key to it is the reduced speeds (and physically separated bike lanes but that is a different issue). To achieve this in an Australian context the greatest improvement for cyclist safety we could make is to install pedestrian crossings at roundabouts. This would force drivers to pay more attention to their surrounds when approaching the roundabout, something that is very difficult to do at the high speeds we travel through roundabouts in Australia.

    The Parry St roundabout is almost well designed, if it provided some kind of physical barrier between the car and bike lane, bikes would be able to travel through without having to worry about what any car is doing.

    I think 2 lane roundabouts are bad news for all involved, I hate driving through them in a car and dread riding through them on a bike.