19. Roundabouts

In 1903 a small town called Letchworth in Hertfordshire (that’s in England/Great Britain/United Kingdom/Britain/UK/United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) built the worlds very first bona fide Roundabout.  It was a remarkable idea, designed to allow traffic to flow freely at busy intersections.  Even more remarkably, it took until 1966 for a law to be passed that instructed you to give way to traffic already on the roundabout.  It would make life for the future motorist a dream, and without it Milton Keynes may never have existed.

The idea behind the roundabout was to allow traffic to sleuth through unhindered without management or expense.  No need to fork out lots of dosh on traffic lights when mankind would be able to look after himself.  Sadly however, the concept relies on its users to employ a spot of aptitude.  If you give a roundabout to a bunch of 4 year olds in some go-karts…well it’s not going to work in the way that you would like.

Highway code article 184: Give way to traffic already on the roundabout. No, not that way the other way! No don't do tha.....oh forget it.

I have observed that a lot of people here in the UAE have a great deal of misunderstanding about roundabouts; about what they’re for and how they should and shouldn’t be used.

The first thing that annoys me is that no one knows which lanes to use.  Most of the roundabouts in Al Ain have three lanes for each turn off.  My understanding is that if you are turning right, be in the right.  If you are going straight, be in the middle and if you are turning left, be in the left.  But always join in the right lane; unless you are going straight and were in the middle, then you should be the middle again…  Well that’s common sense to me.  People want to turn left (third exit) but insist on beginning in the right lane and have to go around the outside and crash blah blah blah.  Stop it all of you!

Secondly we must mention indicating…again.  If you don’t indicate when you’re trying to leave a roundabout don’t blame me if I crash into you.  I will, and I’ll enjoy pushing your car along the road.  If you don’t indicate then that suggests that you have given up on society and have vetoed your human rights.  You will be treated as such.  How many crashes have you seen on the roundabouts here?  I guarantee you that they were all caused by a lack of indication.

Next, they seem to be jolly good parking spaces.  Who on earth thinks this is a good idea?  To actually stop on a roundabout, get out and have a chat with a fellow road-ist?  First of all you are obstructing a lane which means the rest of us can’t see, and secondly you are an imbecile.  Don’t do it anymore.

Fourthly, in slightly more remote areas, roundabouts seem to be ignored.  No really I mean actually treated as if they don’t exist.  I work in a slightly remote area and I cannot tell you how many times I have seen a pair of skid marks go straight into a roundabout, up the kerb, over the middle bit and down the other side.  How could you not see it coming!?  You have to be pretty special to do that.

Can we do anything?  ‘Fraid not.  I asked my Pakistani friend what was going on and he said “roundabouts are a new thing here; people just have not yet learnt to use them”.  Balls, Americans don’t use roundabouts and they deal with them fine when they drive over here.  The incompetence begins at the driving schools; you’ve all seen the learners…and their much, much worse instructors.  So when you use a roundabout, just go for it.  Kill or be killed.  Expect the unexpected.  Show no respect and show no mercy.

One last point, I would like to thank the moron in the Nissan Patrol who I met on the way home tonight for giving me something to write about today.  If I ever see you again, you’re going down…

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2 thoughts on “19. Roundabouts

  1. ZahidK says:

    Nice article. Reminds me of this – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_Roundabout_(Swindon)

    I’ve done it (twice) each time scared the poop out me and I just floored it. 😀

  2. Yep, I remember tackling that nightmare in my old Escort. Who on earth thought that was a good idea?! Great link ZahidK!

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