Archive for January 20th, 2011
By Peter Alex
The cliché about swings and roundabouts is decidedly unfair. Why should the gains always accrue to the swings and the roundabouts debited? On closer inspection it need not be so.
For many wasted years the fathers of the city have pondered deeply on the growing traffic congestion in the Mother City’s environs; little seems to ease the growing gridlocks, save for more freeways to allow for more speed (with more speed controls immediately slapped on) and more traffic cops to (invisibly it seems) patrol the teeming thoroughfares.
Traffic lights (robots to the locals) abound, (for four-way stop streets read “inevitable death” ) seldom linked, thus causing more delays, frustration and road rage.
These “controllers of passage” are expensive. They require high maintenance and when they fail or another power outage occurs, chaos reigns. Moreover, drivers appear to take a delight in knocking them over with regular monotony.
There is a solution … yes, you guessed it, roundabouts!
I remember visiting Welkom in the early 1970s. I was impressed with the manner in which residents drove. They were calm, collected and polite. They did not speed and demonstrated great courtesy to fellow road users.
I later realised it was the city’s chain of roundabouts at major intersections throughout the area that contributed greatly to that relaxed road use. Residents and visitors rapidly got the hang of giving way to traffic from the right, not needing to signal and only slowing rather than stopping.
“Driving the roundabouts” became prescribed Sunday afternoon outings …like taking a sort of calming down motorised pill.
The same applies to minor intersections in the east of Pretoria, where leafy, green suburban roads twist and turn. There, tiny “traffic pacifiers” makes non-stop driving a pleasure.
How about it Cape Town?
Cut out the lights, bring on a new look … it works well in Green Point behind the new Stadium, why not everywhere. Think of the long-term saving.
In any case, it’s a wonderful chance for roundabouts to get their own back on the swings.