04 January 2011
What's this roundabout about?
I'm now on Day 4 of driving....
Aside from having to get over feeling like a 15-year old again, I've discovered the trickiest part of driving here is dealing with the roundabouts. Just in case you're not familiar, most of England (if not all and most of Europe) has roundabouts as intersections. This amazingly replaces all stop signs with a big round island with a few exits off its epicenter.
Sounds easy enough.....until you hit the parking lot.
I went to the Ventura shopping center today which is what Americans would likely call a strip mall. An L-shaped shopping center with about 10 shops around the bend. The car park (parking lot) is full, and at each junction there is a big dot in the middle, indicating a roundabout. I pulled up to one and immediately went stupid. I had no idea what to do!
Normally there is a white line telling you when you have to Give Way (Yield) to the person on your right. But that was not the case in this car park. I pulled up to the dot just as someone on my right did. We both stopped and my heart raced. I didn't want to appear as if I didn't know what I was doing so I waved him on.
Then I reverted to Chicago Driving Mode.
He didn't move for a few seconds, so I went...just as he started to. Then I stopped, he stopped. This little game of cat and mouse went on for a minute or so until I decided to just go.
Similarly, the other day I approached a two-lane roundabout with three exits. Theoretically you can signal left and turn a standard left from the left lane. This part I have down. If I want to go straight, I can get in either lane, but I must indicate 'left' when I approach the exit, but have to be careful when crossing into the other lane. To turn right, you get in the right lane with your right signal on. As you approach that farthest-right exit, you signal left to let oncoming roundabout drivers know you're exiting and not just driving around the hamster wheel. What a nightmare!!!
Hey kids, there's Big Ben!