There are good things and then there is the golden lily.
“The belt-and-hanger approach,” as my late father-in-law Tudor Wall often said, wonderfully practical.
When something is already good enough, the excess can actually be the ruin of any supposed solution to what doesn’t bother him.
Take the roundabouts that city engineers placed on a street in my hometown, for example.
Because roundabouts are by definition round islands at the intersection of two traffic lanes, the bypassing of which means that no vehicle needs to come to a complete stop.
Exactly. Saves time, oil and exhaust gas. Simple and perfect. You slip into your space in the circus of cars and take off at the appropriate exit.
Oh sure, the big roundabouts of this world can be a nerve-racking experience for the novice driver, both entering and exiting the melee of cars, motorcycles and trucks.
What is this city in Scotland where they make all the marmalade in the world? Alright, Dundee. My two traveling companions and I are in a rented VW bus in which I am the designated driver – steering wheel on the right, shifter on the left, and everyone is driving on the wrong side of the road – and we come roaring into this massive roundabout over there at full speed, because you have to follow, with John the navigator who shouts from the back seat: “Take the second exit, wait, let’s go, take the third!” “
We ended up near the port. Gritty industrial town, Dundee. I wouldn’t want to be stuck there after the sun goes down.
Yet basically the roundabouts work. Especially for the natives.
But where I’m from, they put these two roundabouts on Glenarm Street. And then, doubting the ability of the local natives to manage anarchy, they put up stop signs.
Four-way stop signs.
The belt and suspenders approach. Make the roundabouts completely cosmetic.
But there is an American city where the mayor is baited on the leather on the roundabouts. Real ones. About 140 of them. Call them roundabouts.
A Republican mayor! Talk about your social engineering.
You must like New York Times reporter Cara Buckley’s common thread in her recent article on the phenomenon: “Carmel, Ind. – It is becoming more and more difficult to light a red light here, because there are fewer and fewer around. Every year, at intersections in this thriving city, traffic lights and stop signs have disappeared, replaced by roundabouts.
Seven-term Carmel mayor Jim Brainard is crazy about circles, and the city is building a dozen more – and it already has the most cities in America, with a population of just 102,000.
Main reason: Human security. Studies show that roundabouts significantly reduce traffic accidents, injuries and deaths.
But also: climate change. No one is idling at a stop light. The former municipal engineer estimates that each roundabout saves in the order of 20,000 gallons of gasoline per year.
The British strike again – the mayor first saw roundabouts while studying at Oxford University and became fascinated by them.
But the Carmelites don’t hesitate to differentiate their circles from the massive and intimidating type of Dundee – the most famous of which is the one around Place de la Concorde in Paris. This one is downright terrifying. Once inside, one can have the impression that there is no way out.
A Carmelite circle recently won the International Roundabout of the Year award from the UK’s Roundabout Appreciation Society. What turns out to be six guys in a pub. But stay.
If only this circular logic was known in my hometown.
Larry Wilson is a member of the editorial board of the Southern California News Group. [email protected]