Across Continents

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Going around in circles

About fifteen miles off the Interstate I’d said. A smaller diner. It had, I quickly added, character. A certain charm. Drawing in the locals, from where I wasn’t quite sure, rather than reliant on the tourist trade. Couldn’t remember its name but there was nothing else there. Couldn’t miss it. Take a left at the roundabout. Few of these in North America, and this the only one on this stretch of highway.

If you’ve ever driven in the US, you’ll probably be familiar with four-way stops. Idea is simple enough. Four way junction. You must come to a halt when you reach it, even if there’s no other vehicle in sight. Otherwise you risk a citation. You can then proceed in the order you reached at the stop line. If it’s a dead heat, whoever’s to your right goes first.

Great theory. But plenty of scope for confusion, especially if its a close run thing to the line, and one of you is in a bit of a rush. Ballet class usually. And whilst the requirement to come to a halt before proceeding no doubt helps reduce accidents, it also disrupts traffic flow. Fine in the middle of nowhere, but in towns and cities? Must be jolly frustrating, especially when there’s a very simple solution. Pop a circle of concrete in the middle and call it a roundabout. Otherwise it’s a Jammie Dodger without the jam. Or pancakes without maple syrup.

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