Saturday, June 19, 2010

Not always stopping with your hands.

Ever get the feeling that traffic lights are just there to stop traffic? More specifically that they are placed along the route you are traveling to stop you. How many hours of an average human life are wasted sitting at a red light while there is no traffic crossing the other way.

The common hand held, palm facing you, hand signal to stop is the equivalent of the red light . The hand signal to 'proceed' is far less common. In fact the whole idea of going or proceeding efficiently is quite uncommon. Road construction flag persons have only two signs. Stop and Slow. Many drivers stopped at an intersection where there is a policeman directing the traffic seem to not recognize the furious gesturing that indicates- come on it's your turn, get moving. In fact in terms of traffic, the whole concept of 'go' is actually quite a foreign one.

The roundabout is a splendid solution to the stop-traffic light. No stop signs, no red lights, and no confrontational hand signals gesturing to you to stop. It's all proceed. It's all about going, rather than stopping. There is the common sensible understanding that you will be able get where you're going by merging with others who will be coming into the circle too, who will also be getting where they are going at the same time.

The dry stone wall is like the roundabout of fencing and landscaping. Its all 'proceed' too. With walling it's all about go. It assumes you are a fairly intelligent person and with some basic training you may proceed to go and make your wall. There is a hands-on let's go approach to the problem rather than the usual hold it right there stop where you are right now attitude. There's very little, let's wait and get the tractor, somebody find the mixer, did you order the blocks, who's getting the permit, call the architect, call the police, check for underground wires, dig the footings, take out a loan to pay for the new materials we'll need, find and engineer, get the doctor, no I couldnt possibly do this myself, where are my power tools, where's the power outlet?

In this picture the proverbial dry stone wall and the roundabout merge into one tidy solution to traffic congestion and the roadside ugliness.

It is a roundabout at Boxden Business Park in Scotland which is bordered with a beautiful dry stone wall designed and built by David F Wilson,

In the States and Canada some forward thinkers are starting to introduce roundabouts.

There are two new ones in the Cambridge Ontario area. They seem to be working. But we still have a lot of catching up to do with Britain. Let's hope we dont have to stop all the time.

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