Officer Alex bemoans the inability of Chattanoogans to catch on to the circle concept
To me, it is the essence of simplicity. Unlike a line, it doesn’t point anywhere or lead anywhere or even point at anything; it simply “is”. It’s its own beginning and ending. It makes me happy…and anyone that knows Officer Teach knows that he likes to be happy.
When Pope Julius II asked a famed artist to demonstrate his skill in the year 1508? The artist Giotto (not Michelangelo) used red paint to simply draw a circle freehand so perfect it appeared to have been drawn with a compass. Simple and to the point.
So why is it the people of Chattanooga have lost their freakin’ minds over “roundabouts”? What is it about these recent additions over the last 10 years that leave people stupefied to the point of paralysis when they encounter one? The very essence of the roundabout is perpetual motion, flow. The one thing you can do wrong is...stop. Yet every time I use one, there’s at least one or two cars sitting there alone, that triangular yield sign mocking them as they idle motionlessly below it, no other vehicles in sight.
Yes, yes, sometimes the pattern is full of cars and you have to stop momentarily; I’m talking about the folks that run up to them and just put it in park. And when they finally figure out they’re the only ones not dancing at the party? BOOM, that’s about the time they dart in front of the only car that will come through for the next several minutes.
But do roundabouts work? Without question. The Chattanooga intersection of North Access Road and what used to be Lake Resort Drive (because now, it’s a big damn circle instead of two lines so it only needs one name) used to be the second-most accident-prone intersection in the city, just after the grand champion intersection of Shallowford and Gunbarrel Roads (no roundabout there, mind you). Now? I’m not even sure it’s on the radar, because a T-bone crash is pretty damn tough to pull off when there isn’t a “T”.
High volume and lots of stop-and-go traffic. Lots of irritated motorists in a country where 30 minutes was the most you could wait for pizza to be delivered to your doorstep. Four stop signs controlled the traffic there and they all started those cars off at zero miles per hour. A roundabout nearly eliminates stopping at all and only requires yielding, so you ease through in one hundredth of the time during high traffic hours, and save on fuel economy to boot.
Yet despite all the advancements of humankind over the last century, as a people we still can’t figure this out. The people of Europe figured this out before electric lighting was available, yet here we are… and those people put freakin’ mayonnaise on their fries.
It’s different, but we must accept this change, people. Even my dear ol’ Luddite dad traded his precious Champion map book in for a Garmin for at least one trip. The Transportation Research Board conducted a survey of U.S. municipalities in 1998 that showed 68 percent of the citizens opposed roundabouts prior to their construction, but after they began actually using them, a follow-up survey showed the same citizens were now 73 percent in favor of them. (The key? “Actually using them.”)
I think I’ve made my point. Do I regret not writing my usual fare about strippers and midgets and balloons? Sure. I’ve just had some bad experiences after being loaned out to police the Hixson area (or as I like to call it, “The Most Horrible Place to Work or Live, Ever”) and knew I had to use this vehicle to get the word out because I’m all about responsibility, people.
There are rules. Some are complicated, some are even upsetting, but some are about as simple as a circle. (Next week, though, will be all about the aforementioned strippers and balloons. I promise.)