I’VE SAID it before, and I’ll say it again. I detest unnecessary roundabouts. And I detest the excessive clutter of traffic lights that blight our highways. However, more than anything else I despise the ludicrous combination of traffic lights ON roundabouts.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the plans for some of the roundabouts in my hometown of Livingston were drawn up by a committee of toddlers on a sugar-high with only a stack of cheap paper and a few coloured crayons to keep them busy. What other possible explanation could there be for the directional marking being laid out in such a way that you are expected to break with all the learned knowledge of the Highway Code?
(Note to all highway planners: Just in case you don’t know, a roundabout should be treated as a crossroad. If you are turning left or going straight ahead – queue in the left hand lane. If you are turning right on the roundabout – queue in the right hand lane. What could be simpler? And, yes, I DO know about the 12 O’clock rule.)
However, in their infinite wisdom, our Plonker Planners have decided to change some of those rules in Livingston. And they have given the driver this crucial information by – wait for it – painting the directional arrows on the road!
Can anybody else recognise the sheer lunacy in this? Yes, that’s right. If there are cars waiting to enter the roundabout then you can’t see these arrows because the lead vehicles are parked on top of them. Additionally, though I understand changes are planned to be made, there is even a roundabout where the direction signs and the lane markings are at odds with each other. Brilliant! Or perhaps not.
(According to Oor Cooncil’s own web site, this means that “…drivers are having to change lanes sharply when they hit the hatches.) Yeah, or clobber another vehicle.
And how, pray tell me, could these shadowy geniuses of design and traffic management presume that we, as car drivers, are so darned THICK that we actually need a series of stop-go traffic lights on roundabouts? Apart from anything else, the result is that an arthritic granny on a Space Hopper could make it through parts of Livingston in less time than a boy racer in his Subaru.
Can you imagine the meeting where they came up with this plan?
“Okay, gentlemen, we need to find a way of creating effective road-confusion.”
“We could release flocks of geese and a herd of goats at every junction, Sir?”
“Hmm – I’m looking for something a little less restrained than that.”
“Traffic cones, Sir. Lots and lots of traffic cones… for no reason.”
“Nah, we’re already doing that.”
“Got it, Sir! We change the rules of the Highway Code, and we only let the vehicles at the front of the queue know the plan for negotiating the roundabout safely. Then, as they swerve into the correct lane, we give them the fright of their life by presenting them with a wall of vehicles parked at a red traffic light!”
“Brilliant, Smithers… or whatever your name is. You’ve got a bright future in this council, young man.”
Now, maybe it’s just me, but I’m certain that the purpose of a roundabout is to keep traffic flowing freely. So, answer me this: how can planting a forest of traffic lights on a roundabout help achieve that aim?
Note to all those dumb highway planners: IT CAN’T!
Maybe the time has come for drivers to adhere to the rules as laid out in the Highway Code. We could also uproot every set of superfluous traffic lights which we KNOW are slowing our journey to crawl pace, creating queues, increasing pollution and burning precious fuel.
Or we could round up the halfwits who so carefully planned all this confusion, and handcuff them to their own traffic lights. We then plant them in the middle of the roundabouts and pelt them with vegetables as we gleefully speed past.
I’m willing to wager that they wouldn’t be too long in coming up with a better – and simpler – design solution.