Originally Published: June 15, 2015 6 a.m.
The Roundabouts are coming. Are you ready? After reading the pros and cons of the inevitable roundabouts, which are coming to more major intersections, it seems as though the only choice we have is to prepare ourselves for driving around in big circles. The powers that be at ADOT say that the decision to build more roundabouts is cost-effective and efficient. Hmm ... isn't this the same outfit that thinks spending a few billion on light rail is a good thing?
Let me ask world-renowned transportation scientist Dr. Will Speed of the National Highway Parapsychology Scientific Coalition what he thinks.
Dr. Speed, what is your opinion of roundabouts for a busy intersection in Arizona?
I think it's about time that Arizona became more cosmopolitan and enjoyed the immense benefits of roundabouts. Circles are a more natural configuration than sharp turns and corners. Since the beginning of time, humans have been closely tied to the circle. From the wheel to the round dinner plate, human's very evolution has been involved with circles. A roundabout is just an extension of this concept.
But Dr. Speed, are we really ready for roundabouts? Most of us have never driven one!
That's the problem with most Americans - they don't travel abroad enough! If Arizonans would travel to places like the United Kingdom, they would see that roundabouts are spot on! In fact, a roundabout has so much more class than an ugly traffic signal.
Dr. Speed, would you say that the average driver is prepared to slow down and carefully maneuver a roundabout?
Of course not! At the same time that the roundabout will be built, the speed limit should be increased to 70 miles per hour! These are exciting times, indeed.
How can you say this, Dr. Speed? I mean, what about public safety?
Would you rather drivers run red lights and smash into each other as they do now? Traffic signals are passé. They are throwbacks from a softer, kinder society. Traffic signals are nothing more than costly antiques that have no place in the fast-paced, new world that we live in. Drivers of the new millennium must be able to manage the high-speed, new-technology, sensory-overloaded, multi-tasking, rapid-response style driving patterns that are essential for further evolution. People cannot afford the time to sit idly at red lights, wasting their lives away. There are places to go and deals to be made! And cities and states can no longer afford to pay for traffic signals, those dreadful apparatuses that are as outdated as a transistor radio.
What about all of the big rigs, campers, school buses, horse-trailers, trucks pulling boats, added to the mix of ordinary SUVs and cars? How can a roundabout possibly work with such a high volume of traffic?
You are obviously a worry-wart! Your elected officials and Traffic Czars know what is best for you. They are very smart people; they are trafficologists who make their living working out the sorry details of the average man (and woman's) transportation needs. When the speed limit is increased to 70 miles per hour and the magnificent circle is put into place, it will be survival of the fittest. Personally, I suggest buying the biggest vehicle that you can afford and painting it a very bright color. Clearly, this would be an advantage for the transition period.
Dr. Speed, what "transition period?"
You know, the time it takes to learn a new skill for people over the age of 20is about two months, but over the age of 40 is about two years. During this transition phase, I'd also suggest wearing helmets (inside the vehicles) and other protective gear. I definitely would advise all drivers to book a flight to England and spend a few weeks understanding these glorious circles.
Dr. Speed, you're scaring me! I'm convinced that more roundabouts are not a good thing at any of our intersections!
Try to be a forward thinker. You and other drivers might need to get psychotherapy! Perhaps even hypnotherapy. Embrace change! Imagine the thrill and adrenaline rush of speeding around a loop with an 18-wheeler one-foot away, or a horse-trailer bearing down on you! Roundabouts require courage and skill. Go for the gusto! Consider yourselves the true road warriors, blazing a trail where few Arizonans have gone! If only I could be here to see it.
Where are you going to, Dr. Speed?
Oh, didn't I mention? There is a new light-rail being built (for a mere trillion dollars) in between Prescott and Phoenix I have been asked to oversee the entire project! Finally, my talents have come "full-circle." Now, I must go back to important matters. See you around.
Although this writer and newspaper cannot be certain of the accuracy of Dr. Speed's comments, be careful, Dear Readers. It seems another roundabout may be coming to an intersection near you.
Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org.