Monday, March 12, 2012

Roads, in a Roundabout Way

What fun it must be to design a roundabout. Sometimes they are located in the middle of a road, with other roads leading off in different directions. You must slow down to eighty sixty forty thirty and that car parked on the right, the one with a fellow sat in the passenger seat, he'll be a radar cop ready to repair Spain's GOP at your expense. Sometimes, though, the roundabouts are just there, interrupting the smooth flow of the road without any reason or any other exits. Perhaps there are some municipal plans we don't know about. One day, there'll be an urbanisation. Perhaps somebody will be parked on the edge of the roundabout, sat in his enormous and unnecessary 4X4, as a temporary decoration.
Still, these traffic circles, with their two lanes - down from three or up from one - are fairly humdrum. European affairs. Even the overwrought gardening, designed to hide the vehicular flow from the left, hardly makes them intriguing.
Much more popular here are the 'shy circles', those roundabouts that touch rather than intersect. These are used as a complicated and confusing method of bleeding onto another road, usually by obliging you to zip across half its width and then, breathlessly, joining the speeding traffic from the left and dovetailing in behind the red BMW that ain't stopping for nobody. Then crank it before the lorry coming up catches you with a roar on its air-horn. Confusing but rather satisfying I think. There will be no badoom badoom road studs on the approach to the shy roundabout, but the main road which hurtles past will have any number of rows of these charming studs, to entertain and bemuse drivers hurrying past the eccentric circular bifurcation.
These roundabouts, whether true or shy, are designed by young achievers in the second year of high school. They are rewarded with yellow stickies to put on their exercise books. First year students cut their teeth on petrol station forecourts, where a large expanse of concrete will be decorated with obtuse traffic routes, stops, bleeds and parking areas.
Favourite local ones: the Los Gallardos to Garrucha road has three shy roundabouts, all very dangerous indeed. Turre has a hidden shy roundabout, covered in rampant plant life. There is no view whatsoever for drivers of on-coming traffic coming from the left. A right-of-way route powers in from the right.
For a gas station forecourt, nothing beats the Ballabona on the motorway between Vera and Huercal Overa. Several hectares of cement have been turned into a horizontal snakes and ladders set. Most enjoyable to ignore.
But, fresh from our labours driving around the immediate area, why not come and shop in Vera? You can leave your car in the handy underground parking lot which has just been opened. Apparently, a British firm got the tender, since you have to follow a cross-flow into the establishment, going from the right lane to the left. Now, that puts the fun back into motoring.

1 comment:

Rob Innis said...

I remember visiting friends in 2001 in Villaricos before there were any roundabouts, good old days.