Roundabouts


Behind the shelter in the middle of the roundabout
The pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray

Lennon/McCartney

No, I don’t mean approximately, as in “roundabouts then I decided to take grammar classes”. I am referring to the traffic easing configurations. 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.

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.

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 6:00 o’clock point and want to exit not at the 12:00 o’clock point, but over at 9:00 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. There are a number of rules for navigating these things. I don’t think we North Americans should spend too much time studying up of these mazes, as hopefully they will never come to be the norm.

This weekend my wife and I were returning from New York and as we approached the Canadian border we encountered several roundabouts. Just when you thought they couldn’t get more confusing, WAZE informed us to “go straight at the roundabout”. If I went straight at the roundabout I would go up over the grass and seriously endanger the life of the pretty nurse selling poppies from a tray.

Last month YouTube star Emily Hartridge was killed when she was in a roundabout on her escooter and was hit my a truck. I suspect the escooter (which are illegal on London streets) may have contributed to her sad death, but I have to wonder if a traffic light would have helped.

If I went straight at the roundabout I would go up over the grass and seriously endanger the life of the pretty nurse selling poppies from a tray.

Whenever we get behind the wheel of a vehicle we, to some extent, put our lives in the hands of others. On a two-way highway we can only hope the oncoming drivers are in control of their vehicles. The merest error, or bit of distraction, could be disastrous. Nowhere is this more true than on a roundabout. Traffic entering the roundabout must yield to vehicles already going around. On Sunday morning having entered the roundabout at the 6:00 o’clock point and looking to exit at 12:00 (or as WAZE put it going straight), a semi cab (fortunately no trailer) and a car both opted not to yield at the 3:00 o’clock entry causing me to brake hard.

I’m not saying the good old traffic lights are perfect, but I’ll take them over roundabouts any day.

Published by DCMontreal

DCMontreal - Deegan Charles Stubbs - is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

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