If you've been down to the Wharf & Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, you may have noticed drivers scratching their heads with a bewildered look on their face as they come upon the intersection of Pacific Ave, West Cliff Drive, and Beach St.

Many US drivers have never seen a roundabout before and have trouble navigating this circular intersection.  In many other parts of the world, roundabouts are very common and even considered the standard.

Benefits of roundabouts (when used properly... emphasis on properly) include:

  • less traffic congestion
  • ability to perform a U turn within the normal flow of traffic
  • reduce the likelihood and severity of traffic collisions, specifically T-bone and head on collisions
  • better fuel efficiency, lower emissions, and decreased wear on brakes

Here is how to navigate a roundabout properly.

Here is how NOT to navigate a roundabout.

Santa Cruz County currently has 4 roundabouts in use. Two in Santa Cruz near Depot Park and the Wharf; one in Aptos at the Esplanade; and one in Watsonville at Clifford Ave.  Capitola has plans for the intersection of Bay Ave and Capitola and a second in Watsonville at Main Street & Freedom Blvd.

The use of roundabouts will likely be on the rise so remember to yield when you are faced with this circular phenomenon.