Roundabouts are Not as Easy as the Sound – Reprinted from the Platte County Landmark

I contribute a weekly column to the Platte County Landmark under the “Rambling Moron” name. It’s a great Northland Newspaper and well worth a subscription. The following is an copy of my article which appeared in the 5/6/12 edition – printed with permission.

They say that things are always improving, always getting better. But I’m not sure this is true when it comes to driving.

First of all, this is 2012. My dream of buying a flying car when I was 12 is completely shattered. I was expecting to be able to fly my Jetsons-mobile downtown to my work at my “Kamler Towers” by now. What an epic fail.

With the possible exception of hybrid technology, cars really haven’t changed much in the 20 years that I’ve been driving. I now have a button to warm my butt when it’s cold out, but in general, gas is still on the right, brakes are still on the left. The wife still moves my rear-view mirror when she drives my car, the radio still plays too many Taylor Swift songs and gas is still too expensive.

And when it comes to hybrid cars, I don’t know anyone other than hipsters who can pay an extra $15,000 for a car to save what amounts to a couple thousand dollars on gas. Maybe someday, but I don’t see any hybrids in my neighborhood.

What I do see starting to pop up in my neighborhood are roundabouts. There’s one on my daily drive on Ambassador near the airport and several in the Riverside area that I travel frequently. The first time I entered a roundabout was akin to being thrown into the deep end of a pool and trying to swim before drowning. The idea seems simple enough, yield until you have an opening and then travel along the circle until you find your turn.
However, that doesn’t seem to be how it works. For me, it starts with flop sweat when I see a traffic circle approaching. Then I wait for that first car to pass. Is it enough room for me to go into traffic before the next car? Yes? No? Wait. Okay now PUNCH IT.

Okay. Super. Now I’m in the roundabout. But which turn do I take? Crap. I’m in the wrong lane. Gotta go around again. All these exits look the same. Okay. I’m going around one more time and just picking a turn. Oh nuts. It’s the one I just got in on. Let’s turn around and do this again.

Oh sure, MODOT will tell you that traffic accidents at busy intersections decrease up to 40% with the addition of a roundabout, but for idiots like me, it just means a stressful trip down to Riverside Red X.

I certainly wouldn’t mind all of these traffic circles if I had my flying electric car.

(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)

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