Sunday, October 12, 2008

My Town Monday: Roundabout We Go

User error is not a design flaw.

But some people are adamant that because the "new" roundabout(s) in Brighton are bad. Furthermore, these same people contend that all roundabouts are bad and we shouldn't have them in Michigan.

Here is the little roundabout at Main and Third Street in downtown Brighton.

Before the roundabout was built, Main Street had a right of way and Third Street had a stop sign. The only significance of Third Street is that the Brighton Police Department is there. And, surprisingly, Third Street seems to be a fairly often used thoroughfare. It connects Main Street to the other path out of town, Brighton Lake Road.

Simple, unassuming little roundabout. When it went it, it was the first roundabout in the area. And I mean, really. One of the first in Michigan, too. A new, novel, dreadfully frightening thing.

And years later, people are STILL whining over how awful they think (the) roundabouts are.

The complaints usually come in two flavors.

The first is that the roundabout is confusing and it's too hard to learn it.

If you can't figure out a little roundabout... please get off the road. Find someone competent enough. If you can't figure out simple little roundabout-- slow down & yield to traffic in the circle-- then how do you manage the Michigan left or some of the delightful freeway ramps.

The Main Street roundabout is very basic. Slow down, yeild to traffic in the circle, proceed when clear.

Ah, well there's the problem. But rather than realize that the DRIVER who doesn't slow down, pay attention, or yield is the issue, many Brighton citizens blame the roundabout. How dare the road commision put in a roundabout. Didn't the road commision realize that slowing down (you know, going 25 in a 25mph zone) and paying attention (like hanging up the bluetooh iphone) just shouldn't be expected from drivers. Tsk.

The other flavor of compaint is that no body does as they should in a roundabout. People on Main Street will often fly straight through the little circle without even a touch to the brake pedal. No yeilding, and sometimes I'm not sure they even see if there is anyone in the circle.

Again, this is clearly the fault of the road commision.

Whenever discussin of the roundabouts comes up, as it often does for some reason, I keep reiterating that user error does not equal design flaw. I usually win.

Then someone mentions the Lee Road clusterfuck roundabout. And I have nothing more to argue.

Come back next week to read about that delight.

For now, tell me, what do you think about roundabouts? Do you have them where you are?

Do you find yeilding to little rusty cars a problem? If so, I'd like your name and address. I'll be coming for you... I mean... um. Drive safe-- keep it between the ditches.

And thanks to Travis Erwin. See him for More My Town Monday links.


lyzzydee said...

I was very surprised when I visited USA at how few roundabouts there are. Here in England we use them as a main form of control. In fact my town only had roundabouts, no traffic lights at all when it was first built, but as traffic became heavier we had to change and use more lights. We have one very famous roundabout which is known locally as the magic roundabout (after a kids show with the same name) This consists of one huge central roundabout surrounded by 6 small roundabouts. The locals have got the hang of it, you can actually go both ways around it, but strangers are often confused and learner drivers dread heading that way.

Ray said...

Roundabouts in the UK are fun. They've been there for years and no one knows how to use them.
There are nice decorative ones; others that used to be decorative but are weedy and a haven for wildlife (no doubt will be turned into a conservation area in due course) and then there are white painted humps.
In an attempt to help the motorist they have painted double thick white lines at one junction and thin white lines at the others.
A simple rule like 'make way for traffic coming from the right' is beyond those who's intelligence is limited to operating a mobile phone - this requires the use of the right hand.
I have been known to toss the rule book out of the window and use the simple direction that says 'go straight over the roundabout'.

David Cranmer said...

I can figure out roundabouts (so I don't have to turn in my license) but usually in Virginia where I run into them, they are unnecessary. We have one section of road that has five roundabouts within a three mile section. I've heard the drunks have quite a problem running from the police in that area... btw I drive a Jeep -- no rust!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Our record so far for one in England was 10 trips around before we figured out our exit. Second story, bad accident when two tourists (we one of them) hit one coming out of Seville and had different exiting strategies

Mary said...

I don't mind them. I can think of several that I know of in Ohio, but only one in our town. It was added when a local farm field was sold and roads and new homes were added off the main road. It definitely slows everyone down.

debra said...

I don't mind them, either, although I have been known to circle them several times when other drivers wouldn't yield.

Travis Erwin said...

I don't guess we have any here and in truth I'm not sure what they are or what purpose they serve.

Reb said...

There used to be several here in Edmonton, but then someone decided that they slowed traffic down too much (huh?) and a lot were torn out. One that they left, they put traffic lights on - I kid you not! We still have two or three real circles left, but they are not in heavy traffic areas.

The other problem we have here are free flow lanes - "Hello?, why the frack are you yielding?"