Tree at the courthouse

Tree at the courthouse

I took this picture on Tuesday evening when I went to pick Cindy up after work. As I was waiting in front of her office I noticed the leaves on this tree and decided to get the picture on my smart phone. I didn’t realize until I looked at it later that I should have moved the focus more to the left, but I still like the picture.

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We have had roundabouts in Lafayette for a few years now, but there are still a number of people who have trouble maneuvering in that traffic flow. A majority of the people around here took to them quite easily when the first couple made their appearance, but some people…well they have problems.

In the past month I have observed some strange behavior by my fellow motorists. Before I relate those instances, however, let me share with you a succinct description of proper roundabout use in the U.S. (where we drive on the proper side of the road). This is copied from a Wisconsin government document. There are also nice diagrams on their website.

Steps for driving a roundabout:
1. Slow down. Obey traffic signs.
2. Yield to pedestrians and bicyclists.
3. Yield to traffic on your left already in the roundabout.
4. Enter the roundabout when there is a safe gap in traffic. 
5. Keep your speed low within the roundabout.
6. As you approach your exit, turn on your right turn signal.
7. Yield to pedestrians and bicycles as you exit.

Simple, right? Well, not for everyone. More than once I have come up behind people who are treating the roundabout as if it were a four-way stop. They come to a full stop as they wait for a vehicle to their left whose driver is also at a full stop even though there is no traffic at all in the roundabout. And so the two cars sit, not moving, while traffic backs up behind them. Eventually one of the drivers will screw her courage to the sticking place and inch into the roundabout. That brave person is never the driver in front of me.

One day, a few weeks ago, I came up on just such a scene. The woman ahead of me stopped long enough for the other driver to move into the roundabout, and after a string of cars proceeded to their exits, she pulled out, allowing the cars behind her to proceed. I followed this woman past two exits and then I peeled off onto my exit. The woman, however, continued on. I assumed at that point that she was making a U-turn. When I looked in my rear view mirror, though, I saw her pass that exit and start her second time around the roundabout. I don’t know how many revolutions she made.

This past weekend I came to a roundabout and was happy to see no traffic other than two cars that had entered the roundabout seconds before I arrived there. I went into the roundabout and came up behind the second of those cars. It had come to a full stop. The car ahead of it was sitting broadside on the traffic lane. I wasn’t sure if that car had spun out (hard to believe), or if its driver wanted to turn around and come back the wrong way (perhaps the driver was from England). Anyway, that driver eventually did a Y maneuver and proceeded to the next exit.

Roundabouts can be a treat.

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