No doubt, roundabouts move cars along



I have been getting emails recently expressing doubts and even outright opposition to the roundabouts coming to Johns Creek.

Let me tell you about my own personal experience with roundabouts, for whatever grains of salt you may think they are worth.

I first ran across roundabouts in Europe when I was on a two-year tour, all expenses paid by Uncle Sam. They were a little confusing at first, but I quickly caught on. And when you are driving a two-and-a-half ton truck, people just naturally get out of your way anyhow.

But when Roswell decided a few years ago to put a roundabout at the intersection of Norcross Street and Grimes Bridge Road, I said, “Whoa.”

Now Roswell always has a soft spot for touchy-feely solutions. They are always putting in bike lanes everywhere, and they just love walking trails and parks. But Grimes Bridge and Norcross Street? I knew this intersection intimately.

This surely was going too far in the T-F Department. My wife worked at one time near the Grimes Bridge-Holcomb Bridge intersection. And the only two ways to get there from our house was to go up South Atlanta Street and either turn left onto Norcross Street and then left onto Grimes Bridge, or travel a couple of miles north and turn left onto Holcomb Bridge to Grimes Bridge Road.

Now Holcomb Bridge Road is the busiest street in Roswell and normally it would be much shorter to take Norcross. That is, of course, unless it is between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Then it is more like name your poison.

So I could see a real mess with all these cars vying to get on a little one-way roundabout. Another government foul-up was in the making for sure.

And the cheek that the Roswell City Council displayed when they scheduled the ribbon cutting at 8:30 a.m. on a Thursday! That sounded more like a suicide pact than a ribbon cutting to me.

So I arrived at 8:15, because I knew it takes 40 minutes to get through at that time of day. I got lucky and swung into the Church of Christ of Latter-Day Saints to walk over to the intersection.

I thought, “Where are all the cars? There should be cars.”

I was extremely disappointed, because I wanted a photo of cars vying to get through the intersection – or at least two cars vying a little bit. The truth was there was no vying. And there wasn’t any waiting. It was, in fact, the dullest ribbon cutting I’ve ever been to. And if you had been to as many ribbon cuttings as I have, then you would know just how incredibly dull this truly was.

The only excitement at all was the chatter of the birds.

Flash forward to three weeks ago (or flash back if you skipped the last few paragraphs) to another roundabout in my life. This one is in Milton at the intersection of Hopewell-Francis and Cogburn-Hopewell.

I have to call it that because if you go east on Hopewell Road when you come to what used to be the stop sign, you have to turn left onto Cogburn, which magically becomes Hopewell when you turn. That is because if you go straight on Hopewell through the intersection, you are then on Francis.

Now if you are going north on Cogburn, you run into Hopewell-Francis Road. You can turn left and still be Hopewell or you can go straight and be on Hopewell. If you turn right, you are on Francis again.

So if you want to stay on Cogburn, you have to make a U-turn.

I don’t know what to say about roads in Milton except to say everyone in Milton is crazy.

But they do know about roundabouts. Up until about three weeks ago, it was a four-way stop, and most anybody who was not crazy did anything they could to avoid that intersection. But with five – yes, I said five – schools on Cogburn, a lot of people cannot do that.

Every car coming to that intersection had to stop and wait to see who had the right of way (and sometimes it would take a looooong time for drivers to make up their minds about right of way). And you inch forward in the rush hour times (and why do they call it that when traffic does everything but rush).

Since the magic of roundaboutedness has been performed at this intersection, I can honestly say I have yet to stop at said intersection. I have seldom seen more than one car waiting in any direction.

Now school is out, I grant you. But I have deliberately driven through it at peak times mornings and evenings, and I only slowed down. That is the magic of roundabouts. Everyone slows down and if you do wait, you quickly get a chance to hop on and circle around to continue your journey.

There is no heartburn of long lines inching along. You just go. Now I leave it to the engineers to tell us why it goes, I just know results.

So you folks who live off Boles and Bell roads who have doubts and you folks along Sargent Road who are skeptical, I say to you, be patient. I was a doubter, but I have had my moment on the road to Damascus.

Now I believe in the roundabout, and when they are built, you just might be one also.

It is simple to navigate the roundabout. Just remember two little rules. You always turn right to enter the roundabout – unless you are in some backward country like Great Britain and then it is the other way. Vehicles already in the roundabout have the right of way. That is always, always, three times always true.

But there is a corollary. If you turn right into the roundabout and suddenly decide you have passed your roundabout exit, do not, do not, triple times do not stop and try to back up. Merely take the scenic route until you come back around. That’s why they call it the roundabout.

MH 06-18-14

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