THE WENATCHEE VALLEY: The Roundabout Capital of the World 

Sure. The title is a little misleading and a bit exaggerated. Over the past few years, in the many cities that I’ve lived in, like Missoula, Montana and Bend, Oregon, people have joked that their city is the (censored) roundabout capital of the world. But I am starting to hear it more often than the Apple Capital of the World.

Roundabouts seem to be the trend in many places that have seen some growth in neighborhood four-way intersections where traffic is building up. Roundabouts are designed to make intersections safer and more efficient for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. It’s supposed help with the flow of traffic. I know what you’re thinking right now. Stop laughing. 

Here in the fine bedroom communities of the Wenatchee Valley, they have suddenly popped up all over. And you probably read recently about a new roundabout being put into place in Leavenworth.

Roundabout for Pine Street in Leavenworth

The problem is…for the most part…we hate them. Many of the roundabouts leave us spinning around like Linda Blair’s head in the Exorcist. And there are a variety of complaints about the roundabouts here in town. Most people feel that ‘other people’ simply have no clue of the rules when approaching a roundabout. So much so, that the city or state actually has to have a series of YouTube videos to explain to us how to use a roundabout.

Here were some of the responses to the roundabouts here in the Wenatchee Valley: 

“It’s less about the roundabouts, even though they are so annoying, and more about people not knowing how to yield to the left.” 

“People need to use their blinkers.” 

“People drive way too fast going into them.” 

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve nearly been hit in roundabouts!” “Bicyclist are the worst at roundabouts.”

Aerial view of cars driving through a roundabout in California.
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So where the roundabouts we hate  the most? Where do we begin? Number one of the list was all the roundabouts up and down First Street in Wenatchee. How many are there? Seven? Eight? Ten? Some of the complaints are that there are just too many on First Street. Hard edges in the concrete, so if you hit them...ugh. The street is too narrow and during this time of year, snow plows and full sized trucks can’t get through without hitting the islands.

Another roundabout many hate is in East Wenatchee by Safeway. “Too small, and too close to the stop light, always backed up into the roundabout.” 

“Folks are always just running through it without looking.” 

“It’s terrible. and causes way more issues than when there was no roundabout.” 

“People are stopping in the middle of the roundabout to let other people in, isn’t how it works.” 

“You can barely even see it at night.” 

Another one close by that location is the roundabout at Valley Mall Parkway to Sunset Highway to the Sellar Bridge. “People coming off Valley Mall, drive like are Mario Andretti.” 

Then there’s the double roundabout near Easy Street by the movie theater. The one with an art piece in the middle. Some fear that once the new PUD building is in, there might be more issues. 

Baker Flats was mentioned, concerned about the truckers.

And several people mentioned the near misses by speeding drivers, and views that are blocking oncoming traffic and even pedestrians on the corner of Springwater and Western in Wenatchee. “You’ve got to feel for those who live there with so many people honking their horns.”

Traffic circle in local community to facilitate smooth vehicle transitions.
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But not everyone hates them. There was a suggestion that the city needs to build a roundabout on 5th and Eastmont.

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