October 2012 home page

Rich Simons | 11th Street


Q: At the end of last month’s column you promised to share your lifetime experiences with roundabouts this month. I hope you weren’t just kidding around. - w.s.
I wouldn’t kid about something like that, but thanks for reminding me. I’m sure you also remember that last month I expressed my enthusiasm for a roundabout at CDM and 15th featuring a statue of our patriarch Zel Camiel gazing out to sea.
Unfortunately, it appears that a majority of our City Council read that article and swiftly voted, in their great wisdom, to maintain in perpetuity the iconic patch of tar at that intersection that is the hallmark of our village.

But that does not deter me from sharing with you my experiences with roundabouts on three continents: Europe, Australia and Tijuana. (We pause here for a technical note: Wikipedia advises us that places where the traffic goes in circles can be “roundabouts” or “traffic circles” or various other things, depending on the circumstances and the country of origin.)

Whatever. Let us continue. The really cool thing about roundabouts/traffic circles is that once you are in one, you own (or co-own) that sucka! What I mean to say is that you don’t have to leave it until you want to. This is quite useful if you are not really sure where you want to go. In Europe and Australia, sometimes three to five roads intersect in a single roundabout/traffic circle. This can be quite confusing. Fortunately the local affiliates of our AAA have posted about their perimeters a plethora of signs indicating where the various exits might take you. You, being no fool, of course have with you someone to read the signs as you drive slowly round and round. Thus you can take hours to decide whether you wish to holiday in San Sebastian or Cap d’Antibes.

Or maybe Tijuana. In the so-called River Zone there they have laid out a lovely boulevard (“Los Heroes”) connecting four traffic circles of three to five lanes each. Unfortunately the proper functioning of these things requires that drivers know when and how to yield the right-of-way, and . . . well . . . in that part of the world yielding anything is . . . well . . . not muy macho, if you get my drift. After much weeping and gnashing of fenders the city fathers had to circle the circles with traffic lights to get things back under control.

You must understand that at times these roundabouts/traffic circles can get a bit out of hand. The Arc de Triomphe, for instance, is (as best I can recall) circumambulated by fourteen lanes of traffic. The danger here is that at times you can get pinned on the inside and can’t get out. That is why every Francais prudent carries in his coffer an emergency supply of one baguette, a wheel of fromage and a ‘74 Chateaneuf du Pape.

I hope that once our roundabouts/traffic circles are installed on Camino Del Mar they will include many signs pointing me to places I might want to go, like Cabo San Lucas, Taos or maybe Santa Barbara.


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