Behind the shelter in the middle of the roundabout
A pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray
– Penny Lane by Lennon/McCartney
The United Kingdom has been using traffic roundabouts in place of traffic lights for decades. The idea is that by merging with other cars in a circular manner and “getting off” at your street the flow of traffic is uninterrupted. Traffic lights require cars to stop at red lights while the roundabout does not. All fine and dandy.
If you live in a place that has used these things for ages, you get the concept and understand the rules. For instance if you are entering at the 5:00 o’clock point and want to exit not at the 1:00 o’clock point, but over at 11:00 o’clock, you cannot simply coast along in the outside lane. The outside lane is for entering and exiting only. If you get caught passing an exit while in the outside lane you are liable to a fine.
All of this makes some sense in terms of road safety. If you are familiar with the roundabout in question it poses no problem. But if you are new to the area you have to merge, move over to the inner lane, read the sign postings, merge back to the outer lane in time to exit. Sound safe to you? It takes a special kind of courage, pluck even, to use these things correctly.
What’s worse is that here in Montreal we do not have roundabouts, except for one at the airport. But it is an odd beast in that it also has traffic lights affiliated with it.
Give me traffic lights please.
I’ll be the roundabout
The words will make you out ‘n’ out
I spend the day your way
Call it morning driving through the sound and
In and out the valley
– Roundabout by Yes Jon Anderson & Steve James Howe