This week I experienced a bizarre moment of surrealism (these incidents are becoming more and more frequent in recent times) when I happened to be strolling around the mall in Mankato. I moved in a circular fashion along the thoroughfare and ambled passed the sunglasses stall, and the opportunity to win a Mini Cooper car; I was then suddenly presented with a vast display of diagrams and instructional videos that looked to inform the public (like a government information film) the correct way to negotiate a roundabout. Just to remind readers, this is a simple feature of the highway system, that places a circle in the middle of the road – the premise being that you arrive at it, give-way, then continue if nothing is coming (complicated right?).
This was a manned display with an educator that could interface with the Mankato public to inform them on such a transportation anomaly. All this because Mankato’s first roundabout now consolidates the two intersections at Stadium Road north with what used to be County Road 83 – and a program that has introduced five more in and around Mankato. For any Brits reading this editorial, it would be like receiving a public lesson in how to use a stop sign (a rarely seen road sign in Britain - with all its mysterious and complicated meta-narrative of meanings).
I am not sure where this fear of the common roundabout comes from, but Americans seem to fear them, and then lose all logic and perception when placed in front of one. Americans and citizens of Mankato, you have nothing to fear! The only reason Britain does not come to a grinding gridlocked halt is down to these circular institutions; they were first introduced in 1768 at Bath Circus, and we have been going around in circles ever since.
So common are they, that the English town of Milton Keynes has over 300 alone; this leads to the strange phenomena of seeing the tires on the outside of your car wear out faster, because they travel further - it is a common practice in this town to have your tires rotated in the hope of encouraging even wear.
In many ways you have a distinct advantage over me when tackling the humble roundabout, as I discovered on my way home. No amount of tuition prepared me for my interaction; this was the first time in the five years I have resided in this country, that I have arrived at the junction of a roundabout; so I drew on all my many years of experience and a lifetime of driving in Britain. I will now take this opportunity to apologize to all of the fellow users of the roundabout on Monday at 3.08pm for coming at them in a clockwise fashion, and for any distressed that was caused – it was a mistake that any Brit could have made.