“Shit. Not another circle.” On my way to and from a meeting yesterday, the construction was just beginning.

In Jersey, they got rid of traffic circles because they were unsafe. Where I lived during most of my childhood, there was a circle a couple of miles from my home where two major highways and a residential road all converged. From the first day of driver’s ed, we were told that no one has the right-of-way in a circle. You’re wrong just being in one. But the tradition in our local circle was that vehicles entering from either of the main highways had the right-of-way over vehicles in the circle, and vehicles entering from the dinky residential road had no rights. They yielded to vehicles on the circle. After a few laps people would get to the road they wanted to exit onto. There were a lot of accidents before the circle finally turned into a system of traffic lights and overpasses to accommodate the roads, with a gigantic mall to top off the whole new scenario.

Back to the circle era. All the other nearby traffic circles I used in Jersey had the opposite tradition– those on the circle always had the right-of-way. I eventually learned this with many horns and middle fingers as my teachers.

I’m all for local culture. But knowledge of community folklore being a key factor in driving safety didn’t seem too swift.

Now, in the Southern state where I live, there is some kind of new “improvement” of having little, cute circles or “roundabouts” in the middle of secondary roads. They’re nothing like the Jersey deathtraps I fondly remember from my youth. They have rock gardens and beautiful flowers that you’re expected to go slow enough to notice. “Look, Dear, that butterfly has something wrong with its antenna!”

They’re supposed to be safer, especially in redirecting left turns, but I don’t buy it. YouTube has a video of how to drive safely in one. The background music sounds like it’s from a 1970’s porn film while the announcer, unlike in a porn film, instructs the vehicles entering the circle to yield to the ones in it. Meanwhile, comments are posted about how that rule is the opposite in certain states.

If they really care about safety, they’d copy Jersey with the jughandles. Just like you wouldn’t pour from a jug by its spout, you make a left turn by exiting to the right before your intersection, making a left at a stop sign, driving to the light and, when it turns green, crossing the road you were just on. The looping before the intersection you want over the road you were on has the shape of a handle. Although it takes longer, I think that not having cars stop on major roads to turn left is safer.

And just when I’m concerned about the  landscaping being prettier to look at than the other vehicles, I find the picture below of a clown juggling in the center of a roundabout. Now they’re going to start featuring live entertainment? That driver looks a little distracted, don’t you think? Who’s funding these circles, auto body shops?

[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=roundabout&iid=287752″ src=”http://view.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/287752/clown-juggling-roundabout/clown-juggling-roundabout.jpg?size=500&imageId=287752″ width=”380″ height=”257″ /]

Photo Courtesy of PicApp

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