It’s a roundabout, Jim, but not as we know it
Okay, so I have this problem. With roundabouts. English ones, that is. Let’s just say they like their roundabouts here. So much so that you’ll often find two or three that you have to negotiate within a very short distance. I can’t remember ever seeing two roundabouts in quick succession in Australia, let alone three.
There’s so many of them and they’re often so close together, it reminds me of biology in high school where we learnt about ‘budding’ in a reproduction unit. You turn your back and where there was one roundabout, there’s suddenly two. No, wait. There’s four!
Scary stuff, budding roundabouts.
The truth is, most of these roundabouts aren’t even true roundabouts in my book. They’re more painted white dots on the road that have often worn out. Feel free to ignore them, because that’s what everyone else does, driving straight over the top of them (which, I’m guessing, is how they become worn out). Here’s an example of a ‘drive thru’ roundabout from our village…
But my real problem isn’t with the number of roundabouts. And it’s not even with the GPS guy, who can give some pretty dodgy roundabout directions (you can get up to seven or more exits on a roundabout because he likes to go crazy and count petrol station and KFC driveways and the like). No, my problem is with the roundabout rules. Or the lack thereof.
There seems to be one, basic roundabout rule — travel in a clockwise direction. And that’s where the similarities seem to end with Aussie driving. Because once you’re on the roundabout, all bets are off. Each time I enter, I feel like I’m in a Lewis Carroll novel. Anything could happen. Though, unlike a Lewis Carroll novel, there does seem to be one thing you can count on — whatever happens, exiting will be a issue. Mostly because everyone just seems to slide off to the left whenever they feel like leaving.
It’s all most peculiar.
The English seem to understand their mad system and they actually seem fond of their (oh-so-many) roundabouts. There’s even a roundabout appreciation society. Apparently their ‘Roundabouts of Redditch’ calendar sold something like 100,000 copies. I’m not sure what to think about that.
I’ve owned a driver’s licence for over 20 years now, but am seriously considering getting a driving lesson in the hope of understanding the exiting thing. Oh, and I’m keeping well clear of Swindon…
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