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post #121
bio: jen
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10/24/2005
14:27

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Roundabouts



If you ever go to Limerick, be sure to ask for the Frank McCourt walking tour. Many residents of the fair city will definitely tell you where to go.

That's a joke meant to get grab the reader's attention. The residents of Limerick are actually quite nice and want everyone to know that it doesn't rain there all the time (as suggested in the movie based on Mr. McCourt's book). In fact, they will be installing a beach in 2007. A little economic prosperity goes a long way. Hear the Celtic Tiger roar.

Newly arrived in Limerick and just getting off a flight at Shannon, I also got to experience the great traffic invention, the Roundabout. Fortunately, I was the passenger in the car.

If you have never seen a Roundabout, this paragraph will explain it all to you. A Roundabout is a circle where two roads meet. In the States, two roads meet and you get a traffic light. In Ireland, two roads meet, and most likely, you will get a Roundabout.

When you arrive at a Roundabout, you look to your right (you're driving on the left side of the road). When no cars are coming, you navigate around the Roundabout until you get to the road you need to be on or you just go around and around in a circle until you figure out what road you need to be on.

The idea behind the Roundabout is to keep cars moving by taking turns. If everyone goes into the Roundabout at once, no one goes anywhere. However, true to the Los Angeles Freeway model, when there are too many cars, it all slows down.

This was the case for us on the way to Galway when we found ourselves in a lot of traffic to get to a Roundabout to get to a road that leads to another Roundabout. The same was true for when we left Galway, but then, we had the Pogues CD playing. I know playing the Pogues CD in Ireland might seem like a cliché, but it did prevent road rage.

I think we have too many aggressive drivers in the States to have Roundabouts as part of our mainstream driving experience. Besides, we're technology junkies, and we like our traffic lights. Yes, we do have Roundabouts here. There's a Roundabout a few blocks from my house. In fact, feel free to comment on your favorite Roundabout. Still, I wonder what would happen if they caught on in America. It will completely change how we think of driving. Instead of stop and go, we would have to go around. Going around is not an American concept. We stop and we go and we run the yellow.

The Roundabouts and the Roads in Ireland got me out of the stop and go, grid of streets American desire to just get there and into a more ultra dimensional way of thinking. The distance between points A and B was never a straight line. It was a winding country road through bogs with hidden dips and blind curves and no hard shoulder. It went past old thatched cottages and new housing developments. It was under grey skies with high heavy clouds. It kept moving and it didn't stop until the next Roundabout.


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