Today’s guest post is from Irish American Dad, a.k.a. The Green Baron, because of his love of heights, mountains, aviation and aerobatics. His post today focuses on Irish roundabouts, a topic he is far more qualified to write about than I am.
On our trips home to Ireland one frequent exclamation heard slipping from my lips is: “Oops that must have been a roundabout.” I have an unfortunate tendency of only noticing small circular humps in the center of intersections, after the right side of the car has raised a few inches, and then come to ground a with a little bump.
Now over to Irish American Dad…
The Irish Roundabout:
Roundabouts or traffic circles are everywhere in Ireland. Road planners and civil engineers seem to have an obsession with them. They put them anywhere two roads come together.
Some circles are so big, controlled traffic signals in multiple places, guide the traffic navigating around them. Others are so small, you could drive right over, barely noticing the tiny painted circle on the road surface. Irish roundabouts are a challenge for the first time American driver.
The obvious major difference between Irish and American roundabouts is the direction of the flow of traffic. While the American one has a counter-clockwise flow, the Irish has a clockwise flow. When I drive out of Dublin Airport each time I visit Ireland, I pause at the first roundabout I encounter. It takes a few moments to regroup and readjust to the Irish flow.
The rules are generally the same so I am not going to bore you with them. Irish people certainly have a lot of experience with roundabouts. I cannot think of more than a handful of places with roundabouts, where we live in Kentucky. I challenge you to go anywhere in Ireland without finding an abundance of these circular traffic-regulators.
When driving up to a roundabout pay particular attention to the preceding signs and painted road markings. This determines which lane you should be in, to lead you in the the direction you wish to go. Unfortunately, there isn’t a standard pattern for every roundabout. Try to be in the correct lane before reaching the roundabout.
It can be a challenge to change lanes with busy traffic. You’ll find a GPS (Sat Nav as they call it in Ireland) is a very valuable thing to have for visual and aural prompts. Study the picture above, paying specific attention to the required use of turn signals (indicators).
Local councils use the center of roundabouts to display sculptures and art pieces. Some have historic relevance to the local area, while some leave you scratching your head, like you’re looking at a toilet display in the Museum of Modern Art in Paris.
When your initial dizziness from all this circular driving subsides, you’ll find roundabouts keep cars moving much more efficiently than a traffic signal, and they are statistically safer for drivers and pedestrians.
With a little experience gained, you’ll prefer them to sitting at a red light. Before long you will be in sync with the roundabout and all of its circular flowing traffic.
I will leave you with this humorous YouTube video about Irish Roundabouts. Notice the video features the Polestar roundabout in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal. Same as my photo above.
Irish American Dad