Monday, August 12, 2013

We Just Aren't Getting It

The pictures above are from an afternoon last week at the roundabout at Washburn Street and Highway 21.  It was one of the few occasions when I had my cell phone handy to shoot quick photos of the idiocy that I see in the west side roundabouts on a nearly daily basis.

If you can't tell, the driver of the white car has entered the roundabout by making an immediate left-hand turn--going against the flow of traffic--and then is stuck waiting for traffic to clear in front of them--while blocking the vehicles trying to go in the correct direction from flowing around the roundabout.  Eventually, the driver did get out of that roundabout--and managed to drive straight through the two other ones along eastbound Oshkosh Avenue and into the city.

If I had a dashcam that activated automatically every time I approached the roundabouts, I could fill an entire half-hour tv show--ala America's Funniest Videos--every week for several years.  We would start with the "Early Stoppers".  Those are the drivers that come to a complete stop a good fifty feet before the roundabout because they are totally unsure which lane to be in and then what movement to make once they are in the roundabout.  I've noticed these vehicles tend to have Michigan or Minnesota plates on them quite often.

Our next segment will be the thrilling "Gunners" segment.  Those are the folks who get tired of waiting for continuous traffic from the left and decide they are going no matter how close the next vehicle is.  In my vidoes, this footage will be accompanied by the extended blast of my horn until the offending driver has cleared the roundabout and is no longer a danger to public safety.  We could even do a "teaser" heading into break with a freeze frame of a horrified driver through the windshield and ask "Crash or no crash?  We'll find out....after the break!"

The commercial set would be filled with ads for collision repair places and personal injury lawyers--along with the PSA's from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism insinuating that none of what you've been watching would be a problem if we would all "just slow down" in the roundabouts.

After the commercials, we would have another lighthearted segment showing the people who stop in the roundabout and allow traffic to enter from the sides.  The humor comes from the other drivers--who know that once you are in the roundabout you don't stop--trying to avoid rear-ending the stopper.  Then we would hit the viewers with some really scary stuff--the wrong-lane turners.  Usually this involves the right-lane, left hand turn in front of the inside lane vehicles type of crashes and near-misses--but during EAA week I got to enjoy the very rare right-turn from the left lane maneuver, courtesy of a visitor from Minnesota.  If we were to use the video from that one, my wife's profane outburst would need to be bleeped out.  (An added bonus for the viewers would have been that vehicle and ours ending up at the same restaurant and the driver almost running away from me as I tried to explain that the moronic movement he had just attempted was completely illegal.

After another set of collision repair, we-get-you-the-maximum-settlement-attorney ads and the roundabout PSA's we finish up with the wrong way drivers and the sheer hilarity of people swerving to avoid them--and a special segment on close calls for bikers and pedestrians who are harder to spot at the crosswalks offset from the roundabouts.

Since we can't all have dashcams to get this footage, might I suggest police install roundabout cameras to catch all of this bad behavior--just like the cameras they put on stoplights to catch red light runners.  I think our viewers would feel good knowing that those who either refuse to comply with the rules of the road, or who are too dumb to figure them out are at least being punished for their transgressions.

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