City says normal rules don’t apply to traffic circles

If you are confused about the rules governing the “mountable island” at the intersection of 24th Street and Marshall Way, you’re not alone.

Is it a traffic circle or not?

That’s the essence of the query I put to the city’s traffic department.

Specifically, who has the right of way – traffic going north or south on 24th Street or vehicles in the circle attempting a left turn onto Marshall Way?

Justin Luna, a traffic investigator for the city, advised that the roundabout is a “neighborhood traffic circle” designed to calm traffic and, as such, the normal traffic circle rules do not apply. In a normal traffic circle, cars in the circle have the right of way. That is not the case for our “mountable island.”

Traffic entering the intersection from Marshall Way must stop and yield to traffic on 24th Street. Vehicles making left turns from 24th Street must yield to oncoming traffic.

The circular arrow signs posted at the entrances to the intersection simply denote the direction of traffic flow around the circle and do not require oncoming traffic to yield to a vehicle already in the circle. This means that the right-of-way rules at the intersection are the same as an ordinary two-way street.

While the city has clarified the rules that apply, drivers’ behavior makes clear the rules are not widely understood. I recommended that more explicit signage would help.

For now, city officials have indicated they don’t think additional signs to state the responsibility to yield is appropriate.

If you have an opinion or question about the mountable island, you can contact Luna at [email protected] or 916 808-6798.

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