New roundabout inspires song and dance
The shopping day began as an ordinary Wednesday. You know the ones where you triple check the grocery list, making sure one bimonthly trip gets it all, then double check for coupon expiration, while girding your face and hands for germ warfare.
If you’re of a special age and want to avoid crowds, prep is best done the night before, since you must arrive at the market during predawn hours.
This particular hump day yielded a surprise. I’d had coffee, so I was reasonably alert enough to navigate the same Foothill Road route I’d taken for years and looked forward to a pleasant drive. But this day happened to be the public opening of the new humongo, highway-style roundabout at Highway 140 in White City. Do not confuse this circle track with Southern Oregon Speedway nearby. I felt up to the challenge, even a little excited, like I was heading for my first ski jump having never before skied. More on that later.
I discovered these vehicular whirligigs are found in the darndest places. Talent has one, so does Medford, while Bend has over 30. The town with the highest number of roundabouts in the country is Carmel, California, with more than 125 of the asphalt pinwheels. Swindon, England, hosts the Magic Roundabout, which is constructed of five mini-roundabouts in a circle.
I uncovered helpful Q and A for those who may be new to circular driving. The questions are from John Q. Public. Some of the answers appear to be mine.
Q: Is it illegal to circle a roundabout more than three times?
A: It depends on what you’re drinking.
Q: How do you go straight in a roundabout?
A: The same as anywhere else. (Kudos to this individual for abandoning a life of crime.)
Q: How should you signal when going straight in a roundabout?
A: Make sure you know what to do (actual answer). This goes without saying. I mean, you know good and well where you want to get to, but this blasted tom-foolery now stands mid-route.
Q: Who goes first at a roundabout?
A: The car on the left has the right of way, otherwise it’s first-come, first-served like at a buffet, and good luck if you land behind the person who sits interminably stymied at a four-way stop.
As my turn drew nigh, I sailed through newly extended Foothill Road to 140 blithely unaware of what lay before me. As it loomed, I slowed, yielding to cars circling through from my left, then launched myself forward at a tilt. I saw arrows in there, which, if you followed each one, would have you exceeding the three circuit limit. In the end, I’m not sure I did everything according to the book, but no one honked, flipped me off or ran into me, so I count it a success.
In case you missed last week’s song parody, I wrote another: ’70s rock fans knew instinctively the pounding momentum of the 1972 hit “Roundabout,” by the British progressive rock group, Yes, needed to happen here. Recall the energy of that organ anytime you face one of these circus rides. Just don’t try to grab for the brass ring. Everyone dance and sing.
I’ll take the roundabout.
The whirls will spin and spit me out.
I’ll spin the day away.
Call it crazy driving through the curves and in and out the bywayyy.
The drivers sway and swerve.
We challenge every yield and curve.
We need to make our way.
Call it nutsy circling in and out and just to cross the roadwayyy.
In and around the space.
Semis come out of the blue in your rear view.
Unsure how to leave the circle, I see you.
Fleeting image flashing past me in review.
Flooring pedals I’ll beat you, you’ll see
I’ll come through with you.
Dadadadada da da!
Dadadadada da da! And so forth.
The real lyrics are much stranger. On that note, thank you, ODOT, for helping us stay safe. I haven’t had this much fun since the Expressway.
Peggy Dover is a freewheeling freelance writer. Reach her at email@example.com.