Thursday, 30 September 2010

Ring around the rosie

The busiest intersection in my suburb is under construction.  It's easily the craziest shit-show you've ever seen.

All because somebody decided to build a giant godforsaken roundabout – a friggin traffic circle.  The City was apparently awarded 2.5 million bucks to build this beast, which apparently marks “the beginning of a series of tangible measures to improve the four-kilometre stretch” of the busiest street near my house. 

Well that’s just great.

When I heard there was a roundabout website, I just had to take a look.  I learned a few interesting tidbits.

First, a roundabout is apparently different than a traffic circle.  Who knew?  Apparently a modern roundabout (I like that they call it “modern”) is an un-signalized (is “un-signalized” a word?) circular intersection engineered to maximize safety and minimize traffic delay. Unlike a traffic circle, traffic entering the roundabout must yield to traffic already within the roundabout. (I’m pretty sure traffic in any intersection must yield – otherwise the consequences are pretty drastic).

And I especially like the “maximize safety and minimize delay” part. The below list of pedestrian instructions seems to contradict that claim.

  • Use the sidewalks and crosswalks around the outside of the roundabout. Do not cut across the middle of the roundabout. (i.e., avoid running through the constant stream of moving vehicles)
  • Point your finger across the crosswalk to say to drivers you intend to cross. (kidding, right?) Look and listen for a safe gap in traffic. (oh my god)
  • Step up to the curb. (don’t run or jump) Look at the drivers. (OH MY GOD) You decide when to step out and go. (translation: it’s your fault if you get hit)
  • Start to cross as soon as you are sure the driver intends to slow or stop to yield the crosswalk to you. (how do you suppose I make “sure” of that, Mr website?)
  • Watch for a driver coming in the next lane. (yeah, ok, I’ll just watch ALL the lanes) Make sure that the driver sees you. (hold a sign that says “honk if you see me”)
  • Keep watching all the way across. (make sure you don’t blink)
  • Wait on the splitter island for a safe (“safe” is a relative term) gap in traffic before crossing to the other side of the road. (so, what you really mean is: do it all again)
  • Step up to the curb. (no running or jumping, I said!) Keep pointing your finger across the crosswalk (I guess they’re not kidding, after all) to say to drivers that you intend to cross. (or wave your sign)

So, let’s summarize:  As a pedestrian crossing a roundabout, you have to walk like a zombie with your arms out-stretched and your eyes wide - just cross your fingers (while pointing, of course) that you don’t get run over.

This sounds like a splendid idea.

You should check out the little demo on the website. It’s pretty hilarious.



  1. I realize I'm sorta behind the times here, but I'm catching up on old posts, so deal with it. :P

    I live for idiotic videos like this one. Well not really, but you know what I mean. I laughed SO hard at the pedestrian part...What moron is actually going to cross the street like that?

    The town I work in recently put in a roundabout, a little smaller than the one in the video (one lane for traffic instead of two in the circle), and they put it RIGHT in front of the county courthouse, easily the busiest intersection in the entire downtown area. Idiot move on the city's part, but what else is new? Trying to drive through there is an absolute joke. Even the county/city cops don't drive through it because I swear to God nobody in that town knows what the hell they're supposed to do in a roundabout. I feel like anybody that actually takes a chance with it just closes their eyes, guns it, and hopes for the best. I feel your pain....after I'm done laughing at it, anyway...

  2. I love that you're reading the old posts! The pedestrian part kills me too. What a joke, The thing is, I actually LOVE the roundabout now! Sure, some people are IDIOTS, but it really is faster. At least with two lanes it is...