Kokua Line

June Watanabe

Sunday, February 1, 2004

Tutorial in order
to inform drivers
on roundabout rules

Question: I go through one of the city's roundabouts daily and have been in close calls due to people not knowing how to yield to cars on the left. Many people think that since they are going straight through the roundabout, they have the right-of-way and can just go at anytime. If people would yield to cars on the left, the roundabout would move smoothly. How about signs reading "yield to cars on the left" or something to that effect?

Answer: Honolulu residents aren't alone. American drivers from California to Florida and New York have been a bit confused about maneuvering through a roadway design that's been long used in other countries.

Fortunately for confused local drivers, no multilane roundabouts are planned here.

But with five roundabouts already in place and four more planned for Oahu as a means of slowing down speeders, this may be a good time to go over what the rules of going around in a circle are.

First, roundabouts only go in one direction -- counterclockwise.

The city Department of Transportation Services already has yield signs at every entry to a roundabout and officials don't think any extra explanation is needed.

They note that the simple "Yield" sign is recommended by the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices and that saying "yield to cars on the left" would have "confusing meanings when applied to cars in the roundabout vs. (those) entering the roundabout."

The general rule is this: Motorists approaching a roundabout are supposed to yield to cars already in the roundabout. And, this is important: Motorists in the roundabout should move through and out WITHOUT stopping.

"While sometimes drivers exercise the aloha spirit by allowing others to enter the roundabout when they are already in the roundabout, for safety reasons this is not recommended," transportation officials said.

Large vehicles are allowed to travel over the truck apron of the circular "splitter island" when passing through a roundabout. Those that cannot make a left turn even by going over the apron are advised to take an alternate route.

As for pedestrians, crosswalks are set one car length back from the entry points. Motorists are supposed to yield to pedestrians at the crosswalk before going to the roundabout entrance or when exiting the roundabout. Pedestrians who arrive while a car is waiting to enter the roundabout can cross behind the car.

Pedestrians may stop on the splitter island to focus on one direction of traffic at a time.

Current roundabouts are at Heulu/Keeaumoku streets in Makiki; Ala Ilima/Likini/Ala Lilikoi in Salt Lake; Kuahaka/Kalauipo and Kuahaka/Kaweloka streets in Pearl City; and Ululani/Uluhala streets in Kailua.

The city plans roundabouts at Ala Oli/Haloa drives in Foster Village; Ala Napunani/Likini streets in Salt Lake; Komo Mai Drive/Kaahele Street in Aiea; and Kailua Road/South Kalaheo Avenue in Kailua.


To Straub Clinic and Hospital. Just when you thought Straub showed compassion by not charging disabled people for parking, they have now started to charge. The sad part was that nobody was notified. They should have sent notices with their bills or when you have your ticket validated at the doctor's office. We were not notified until we were driving out. -- No Name

Straub did do away with the free parking for disabled patrons on Jan. 15.

On that date, signs and notices were placed in the parking structure and on each disabled parking stall to let people know of the new charges, according to Straub spokeswoman Claire Tong.

"Straub cares about all our patients and recently we made improvements in the parking structure that assists patients who are disabled," she said. That included renovating elevators and increasing the number of disabled stalls on the first floor.

There are at least two disabled stalls on most of the levels of the parking structure, as well, she said.

"Outside of state-run facilities, all hospitals in the Honolulu area charge the disabled for parking as they do all other patients," Tong said.

Under state law, the disabled are allowed to park for free in metered stalls for up to 2 1/2 hours. The thinking is that it may be difficult for someone with a handicap to feed the meter.

But when there is an attendant or other means to pay for parking other than a meter, there is no law requiring that the fee be waived.

As an official with the state once explained to Kokua Line, some places may choose to do allow the disabled to park for free, but "it's more out of charity than civil rights."


See the Columnists section for some past articles.

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