Round Lake Beach’s ‘Mini’ Roundabout

On March 15th we wrote about a couple of Roundabouts coming to our area (not specifically in our District, though) as part of this summer’s road improvements. Round Lake Beach is no laggard when it comes to innovation and already has their very own, brand new, ‘mini’ Roundabout at West End and Wildwood Drive.  If you have taken a drive to see the addition to the Round Lake Beach lakefront, that has been under construction for the last couple of years, you would have ‘experienced’ driving through a ’roundabout’.

I doubt that the Illinois Rules of the Road include any roundabout signs so we included one here. As you can see, there is no direct left turn when entering the intersection. As the sign indicates, you MUST travel in a ’roundabout’ counter-clockwise (opposite the way your clock rotates) fashion through the intersection until you reach the street that you want to exit onto. Anyone driving South on West End and wanting to turn left onto Wildwood Drive would actually turn slightly right to enter the roundabout and then continue around the circle until they are heading East on Wildwood Drive. This is a miniature roundabout since the larger ones have dual and sometimes triple lanes. Roundabouts are generally installed to speed up traffic flow at busy intersections so it’s not clear why the Beach elected to install one at this 3-way side street intersection, but never the less, give it a try and see what you think! Will they need to install ‘no left turn cameras’ to ticket those who don’t get it right (or was that left)? 🙂


The landscaping will be added once the weather permits and the planting season starts. One thing that I noticed as I drove down to the new lakefront parking area was that there are BLACK gates to close the park after hours. With a sharp curve in the road, a driver’s headlights will be shining out across the channel and there is NO sign warning you that the gates are there. I’m sure the gates will be replaced before this oversight is corrected, and certainly not the fault of the driver who may have even ended up in the channel to avoid hitting the gates!

I came aross the following example of a roundabout on the Wkipedia site which describes roundabouts as follows:
“A roundabout is a type of circular intersection in which traffic must travel in one direction around a central island. Traffic entering the circle must slow down and give the right-of-way to drivers already in the circle”

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  • I grew up in Mount Prospect and they had a very poorly designed round about with 6 streets entering it. all right hand turns. It actually worked quite well when everyone in it knew what to do but add one that didn’t and all hell broke loose.

    You actually had to complete the round about 3-4 times during drivers ed or you didn’t pass!

  • editor

    I believe that is where I first came across one. It encompassed a road similar to Willow Road with four lanes and merged with two other streets making it a six-way intersection. Drivers who were experienced with it moved right into the center of the circle to get around the slower cars and then merged to the outer lane as they got close to where they wanted to exit. Funny how it sticks in a persons mind, probably because you never experienced it before and thought you probably never would again. The one they installed in the Beach looks like it gobbled up some yard space that the owners may not be too happy about considering the small amount of traffic at this location. I think I will take my camera over there in the next couple of days and see how long it will take to get a few pictures of drivers simply turning left onto Wildwood instead of making the circle, and posting them here.

  • editor

    I’ve got a good friend living in the UK that mentioned the number of roundabouts that they have, along with the different types. I asked him to send me some photos and thought I would share a portion of his follow-up emails here:

    “Actually roundabouts help the traffic flow a lot more smoothly than traffic lights. My main frustration is when they put a pedestrian crossing right on their exits. Cars are busy looking RIGHT to see when it is safe to pull onto the roundabout then come to a sudden stop when they turn their head to the front again and discover the pedestrian crossing has gone to red so they have to slam the brakes on and cant get off the roundabout. Suddenly the whole roundabout becomes gridlocked with stationery cars until the lights change again. Argggghhhh!

    Several years ago, back in the days when the Russians (rather than Iraq/Iran terrorists) were the bad guys, we had several USA Air Force Bases in Suffolk. The young Americans would come over here for a couple of months tour of duty and apart from regular accidents caused by them absent mindedly driving on the wrong side of the road after a few beers, they used to get really confused by roundabouts as, back in those days, I think roundabouts were quite rare in the USA. The American servicemen also didn’t have any experience of roundabouts with traffic lights. I think in the USA your traffic lights are bright yellow, often on gantries above the roads, and so are very obvious to spot whereas ours are on black poles by the side of the road so not so easy to notice. Americans would often be involved in accidents (I was nearly rammed a couple of times myself) on these roundabouts by the servicemen enjoying driving around them not realising there were red traffic lights in front of them. Those mini-roundabouts painted on the road surface used to cause mayhem too as they are not obvious until you get right up close to them but I think people are used to them these days.”

    When he sent me links to Google StreetView showing many of their roundabouts, I teased him about driving on the wrong side of the street as follows:

    I’ve just figured out what is wrong with your whole roundabout system! You blokes are driving on the WRONG side of the street!

    “I have just had a look at your blog entry about roundabouts… and like the little moving picture of cars going around it… except not only do YOU GUYS drive on the wrong side of the road you also go around roundabouts the wrong way (anticlockwise instead of clockwise)!!!”

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