Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Roundabout still better than lights

Roundabout still better than lights

(My Clovis News Journal column for April 17, 2015)

I’ve noticed new pavement markings at the Clovis roundabout, the premier driving entertainment venue in our area and star of a Youtube video*.

These pavement markings have the same hieroglyphics as the signs you might notice on the roadside as you approach. I’m not sure the added expense of painting the pavement accomplished anything — other than spending some of the annoying tax loot that clutters up government offices everywhere.

I wonder if those who built the roundabout, and those who decided on the proper way to maneuver around it, ever considered that following their directions to the letter (or would it be "to the glyph"?) still means cars will be crossing each others paths as they enter, circle, and exit. Sure, if all traffic were only coming from one direction, their instructions would make some sense, but that's not how it works. It's as if they don't take into account the reality that cars will be entering and exiting from four different directions at once.

Plus, if the westbound road actually had the two lanes illustrated-- rather than having one of the two lanes end rather abruptly upon exiting the roundabout-- things might go a bit smoother.

It's government; what else would you expect?

Yet, even with these issues, I have only had trouble navigating the roundabout one time-- the first time I drove through it. Slamming on the brakes when cars surprised me by appearing seemingly out of nowhere, I broke some eggs I was hauling. But, once around was all it took for me to figure out how the thing works, and I now give plenty of right-of-way to any cars in the roundabout. I kind of enjoy it. It's so much better than those silly traffic control signs and signals used at most intersections to mess up the natural flow of traffic so terribly.

I have also been a passenger while other people drive through the roundabout. In some cases this is very exciting. One person in particular generally takes the straightest path possible, regardless of anything like lanes or the presence of other cars. I grit my teeth and hang on while this driver expresses irritation at the incompetence of all the other drivers.

I'm confident in a future free society, when people look back in disbelief that anyone ever settled for government-owned roads, the owners and managers of roads will make sure to have things as clear as possible to prevent the lawsuits and liability poor planning and maintenance would open them up to. Anything less would be unthinkable.

That, or our self-driving cars will work it all out between themselves while we sip whiskey and text each other.


*There's another video, too: roundabout "fun"?


Group effects

"Society" is a name for a group of individuals. Just like "group". Or "swarm". Or "the market".

More than that, it is the effect those individuals have. It is the result of individuals acting individually, but having an effect that is greater than the sum of the parts. It is emergent.

That's why I don't object to the term "society" as much as some do- as long as it isn't being claimed that "society" has rights above and beyond those of individuals or not possessed by individuals.