The roundabout in downtown Elmira – south of Elmira College on North Main Street and Park Place – is taking shape and should be open sometime this fall, so it’s a good time to get Twin Tiers drivers ready to safely navigate the circular intersection.  I know many folks dislike roundabouts but they are popping up with greater frequency so it’s becoming more and more important that local drivers learn to safely navigate them.

Motorists will find roundabouts on state Route 13 in Horseheads, at Franklin Street and Old Ithaca Road, and a newer one in Newfield on Route 13. Many Chemung County-to-Ithaca commuters have learned to navigate roundabouts because they are a daily fact of life.

There are also two small roundabouts on Maple Avenue on Elmira’s Southside that many drivers avoid because they are cramped and confusing.

But the downtown single-lane roundabout was designed and built as a roundabout, and will be harder to avoid because it is part of a key north-south thoroughfare through the city.

So what do motorists need to know?

Here are 10 tips and facts about roundabouts that will help you get through safely.

  1. As you approach the roundabout, slow down and scan for pedestrians and bicyclists crossing the street.
  2. Keep an eye out for signs, including a recommended speed limit, a one-way sign, and dashed lines that indicate the roundabout entrance.
  3. Traffic flows in a counter-clockwise direction.
  4. Yield to traffic already inside the circle. Look for cars coming from your left and do not proceed until it is safe to do so. Drive the recommended speed limit.
  5. If there is no traffic in the roundabout as you approach, you may enter without yielding.
  6. How to make a left turn using a roundabout: You turn left by traveling counterclockwise around the center island. When you reach your desired exit, turn right to exit.
  7. Roundabouts eliminate the most 90-degree and head-on crashes. Crashes are low speed and at an angle, generally reducing severity and damage.
  8. Roundabouts eliminate most stopping situations for vehicles, increasing efficiency of the intersection and reducing pollution caused by vehicle idling.
  9. According to statistics reported by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in the U.S. Department of Transportation, roundabouts result in … more than 90 percent reduction in fatalities; 76 percent reduction in injuries; 35 percent reduction in all crashes; safer intersections for pedestrians because of the slower traffic.
  10. Roundabouts reduce the types of crashes where people are seriously hurt or killed by 78 percent to 82 percent when compared with conventional stop-controlled and signalized intersections.

Thank you for reading,


Jim Reed
Managing Partner
Best Lawyers’ “2015 & 2017 & 2019 Lawyer of the Year”

NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: and