The Roundabout. In my humble opinion, it's a stupid invention. And it's not because of the reason Wikipedia suggests: that I'm not familiar with how they work and I'm not used to them. I'm a pretty smart girl. I get the rules of the road. I learn pretty fast what a road sign says. I still think it's a stupid invention.
I had my first experience with it several years ago in while my husband and I toured southern France with my parents. The vacation was lovely, but the roundabouts were everywhere and my husband, the designated driver, took them at warp speeds. We couldn't read the signs fast enough, so we'd go around and around and around and around. I remember one specific time, there were 4 exits and on every sign, 4 towns were listed. It was night time and 4 of us were trying to scroll through French town names while getting dizzy speeding by. I don't know how many times we went around that stupid roundabout, but it was no less than 6 by the time we actually found the right exit. By the time we found it, we were all laughing so hard that we had tears in our eyes. It was reminiscent of a Lampoon's vacation.
I've heard nightmare stories about drivers getting stuck in "traffic circles" during Boston's rush hour traffic. I realize that these circles have different rules than roundabouts, but, they're all just as annoying to me. For all these years, I've been thankful that I live in the midwest, where common sense in road construction prevails...until recently.
<insert doomsday soundclip here>
For some reason, Minnesota has decided with urban sprawl or suburban decline or whatever the current trend is right now, that it wants to start adding in roundabouts at random spots in the Twin Cities. I first noticed it in Edina near the upity mall. "Typical!" I thought. "Of all places, in the Midwest, Edina would want to give off a European pretense." The weird part about these particular roundaobuts is that they were randomly installed in an otherwise thru road that had no exits besides a minor turn off for the back entrance to the mall. In my opinion, they were simply installed to slow traffic down on a road that isn't particularly pedestrian heavy. Dumb.
I was really not all that disgusted because I don't really shop down there too much. I just thought it was worth a giant eye roll and a big pathetic sigh.
However, I've now read in my local city's quarterly report that they're putting one in near me (thankfully not on a road I have to readily travel), and now I'm annoyed. It's at a major road intersection and it's going to be a major pain. To top it off the article is talking up how great they are for traffic and pedestrian safety. Yeah, yeah, blah blah blah. It's funny, because I don't know a lot of people who generally walk across highways in the middle of nowhere. Check the safety reports for cyclists, shall we? They tend to get hit a lot more in roundabouts than a typical intersection.
There's my soapbox sermon for the day. Roundabouts are stupid.