I woke up feeling fragile this morning. I have been experiencing lots of crazy and blatantly stress-related dreams over the past week, it’s kind of understandable. Last night I dreamed I went to work in my dressing gown and slippers. It was so real, as I walked down the corridor at work this morning I wondered if I was dreaming that I had gone to work dressed! I have dreamed about being unprepared for meetings, speeding down the road chasing something in my car, last night’s dream included a colleague at work putting his arms around my waist.. anyway! Odd.
I read an article about roundabouts being the latest UK export to the US. There was an interesting comment on the very different cultures of the two countries. People of the US like right angles and stop and go. They like things to be clear cut and straight-edged. The US is very individualistic. There is a (perceived, I admit) tendency to do what is best for the individual, even to the detriment of society. Obviously it’s not an overwhelming tendency, otherwise society would fall into anarchy. For example, it seems to me the general attitude of Americans is ‘you’re poor because you want to be, this is the land of opportunity after all.’ I would be curious to know if my US friends would see themselvves in this description.
In the UK, by contrast, even new housing developments have winding roads. The British don’t seem to like straight roads. It’s as if they’re still rebelling against Roman occupation or something. It’s a trait I find immensely frustrating when I’m stuck behind a tractor and I can’t overtake because I can’t see around the bend. I know my English friends will hear me on this one. Americans need to be put into line by someone else, the British have made queuing a national obsession. The British will tend to do what’s best for the community at the expense of the individual. For example, roundabouts. You have to slow when you approach a roundabout, so the individual must sacrifce time and speed to ensure the smooth flow of traffic. The effect is also seen on the M25 in the areas where speed restrictions are put in place during busy periods. Traffic flows much better if everyone is going at 50mph than if there’s some nutter doing 90mph in the outside lane overtaking everyone else. He won’t get anywhere any faster, except maybe to his own funeral.
So, roundabouts. They work well in the UK, provided the traffic is not too heavy, because people take it in turns. Drivers give way at the most unexpected times – I can’t count the number of times I’ve nearly gone up the back of someone because they’ve stopped to let someone in when we have right of way. I wonder if they’ll take off in the US. Maybe they’ll think they’re just really big speed humps.
Now, roundabouts with part-time signals is a whole other subject for comment. Are you people CRAZY??? 😀