Memorial Day Weekend. Another summer in the City (of Rehoboth Beach) starts. With it comes the welcome arrival of our beach visitors. Many of these visitors, coming to Rehoboth Beach for the first time may also stumble upon the turn circle at the entrance to town, and experience a turn circle AKA roundabout for the first time also. Here in the first in our, “Tip From A Local” series, “How to Drive a Turn Circle AKA Roundabout.”
I grew up in the UK. I experienced Driver’s Ed on our many turn circles, AKA Roundabouts. I sat, deer in a headlight, at the approach to roundabouts, waving at the folk camping in the middle, and the locals landscaping. I giggled driving in our very small villages at those who drove right across the dreaded, “Mini Roundabouts” as if they weren’t even there, and quite the optional traffic flow. The most polite of British suggestions at traffic directions – a mere hint at preferred driving patterns versus a command from Her Majesty’s Government Home Office. And, yes, I was one of those “L” Plate Learner Drivers doomed to forever drive around a larger roundabout Chevy Chase style, not able to navigate lane discipline to get off the darn thing and on my way. Mr Bean be darned!
According to British journalist Stephen Beard, “The roundabout is said to have flourished in Britain because it requires the British virtues of compromise and cooperation. The U.S.’s more aggressive, confrontational culture may explain why the roundabout has not been more widely adopted by Americans.” Not my words before y’all sound off! Personally, when visiting family in the UK, I always have a momentary panic in the rental car leaving Heathrow airport after the London Red Eye sans sleep. Which side of the road? Where’s the exit for Wales? Roundabouts, aargh! Need. Coffee. Now. Heathrow Airport is basically located on one massive roundabout circled by several smaller roundabouts. Roundabouts are so popular and the things that the Brits love to hate to love, that there are calendars portraying the creativity and beauty of British roundabouts, and even a Roundabout Appreciation Society! Here are two contrasting images of British Roundabouts. To my left, the daring design of Hemel Hempstead’s famous, “Magic Roundabout” and one should sigh with relief approaching the one circle, two lane Rehoboth Beach roundabout. To my right, the beauty of a roundabout in the village of Otford, near Sevenoaks in Kent, featuring a listed (registered) duck pond circled by willow trees. The duck pond is believed to be used as a drinking hole for local livestock more than 1,000 years ago.
Here are some helpful YouTube Videos made in America by Americans navigating American Roundabouts. Enjoy, but please, pull over to watch. See you at the beach, and remember, parking rules are now enforced daily 10am to midnight for the summer. In leaving, remember British poet John Donne’s famous declaration, “No Man is an Island.” Unless of course stuck on Hemel Hempstead’s Magic Roundabout, in which case, “Be The Island. Feel The Island. Never Ever Leave The Island.”