Traffic Circle of Hell

Now there’s a roundabout on my way to work. I’ve been working offsite for a couple weeks, driving to Raleigh, and while I loved the school, I’ll admit to looking out at the 40 traffic sometimes and feeling like a mythological figure unable to escape her tragic fate. And while I wasn’t driving my nice short easy commute, a brand new roundabout was built. You win this round, North Carolina.

I’m not saying that people here love driving and hate turn signals, but here’s the local paper, the News & Observers, noting 84 crashes after a year’s operation of the Hillsborough roundabout.  The N&O has a followup story describing how “Traffic engineers realized some drivers would have trouble, so they published an illustrated navigation guide before the roundabout opened“. It makes Harold sad when I say mean things about the locals, so I’ll just post those without further comment.

“There’s a new roundabout on my commute,” I said grumpily, to a perfectly nice local person.

“A what?”

Right, roundabout. Sometimes I’ll say something the British way and it usually feels like a greeting from my Scottish granny. A word I must have learned from her, or heard her say, and now I say it that way too. It usually makes me very happy.

“I meant a rotary.” I tried again. But I’m not in Massachusetts, so that also got me a blank stare. “A freaking traffic circle?”

“I don’t know what that is.”

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what everyone driving through it is also thinking.”

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7 Responses to Traffic Circle of Hell

  1. wabres says:

    and yet, when I call it a roundabout, I get ‘hail britania” sung over the phone.

  2. bridget says:

    I call them “rotaries”, because I’m from Massachusetts.

    Speaking of which, I love Massachusetts rotaries. D.C. rotaries are another matter, because there are concrete barriers between the lanes, and if you mess up, you just can’t keep going around. You end up in totally the wrong place, in a city with streets six lanes wide, that does not believe that a double yellow line means “U-turns allowed”.

    French roundabouts would be fine, except they are miniscule and the last time I was driving on one, I kept getting cut off by some guy on a bike with headphones in his ears and an infant strapped to his back.

  3. bridget says:

    Incidentally, “I have no word for this concept” was supposed to be limited to the Dakotas, which do not have more than two roads, let alone more than two roads to intersect and necessitate a rotary:

  4. Bill says:

    I still call them rotaries.. because Masshole.
    I’m told they call them Roundabouts in DC but I’ve never really heard anyone say that.
    Alternatives: Traffic Circle, Circle (Dupont Circle?), Circus (British?)

    Yeah, I’ve got nothing.

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