Submitted by Evelyn C. McDonald
January 17, 2018
Twenty-five years ago, author Ray Bradbury wrote a book about his experiences in Ireland called Green Shadows, White Whale. Bradbury had been brought to Ireland to write the script for John Huston’s movie “Moby Dick.” It’s a funny book, filled with Bradbury’s amused anecdotes about the Irish.
One of the stories concerns bicyclists and fogs in small Irish towns. Bradbury said that the Irish approach when riding a bicycle through a town in a dense fog was to go as fast as they could in the hopes that they would miss collisions. Similar behavior can be seen at the traffic circle where 14th Street meets the Parkway.
We have two types of traffic circles on the island. There are the usual four direction circles but there are also three direction circles. The worst three direction one is surely where 14th Street meets the Parkway. If you are coming south on 14th Street and want to turn right onto the Parkway toward 8th Street, you are taking your life in your hands. Many cars seem to consider the circle as their right of way and 14th Street as a Stop sign so they can move through the circle without stopping. If you are trying to turn, it’s hard to figure out whether the car speeding down the Parkway will stop or go right through the circle.
What do Florida traffic regulations say about traffic circles? In addition to directing drivers to treat a traffic circle as a four-way stop, there are two basic regulations. One regulation directs drivers to slow to 10 to 15 mph as they approach a traffic circle. A second regulation says that cars in the traffic circle have the right of way and should not stop except to avoid a collision. These regulations are violated daily at the 14th Street traffic circle.
If you are on the Parkway coming from 8th Street, traffic seems to be more cautious. It’s easier to see cars coming toward you or moving into the circle from 14th Street. If you want to turn onto 14th Street, it’s a heart stopping thing to see a car barreling toward you from the other direction on the Parkway. You have no idea whether that person intends to stop. Are you going to be involved in a game of Chicken or will sanity prevail?
This would all be academic if there were no accidents at that circle. Sadly, there have been – and many near misses. Traffic circles are supposed to cut down on accidents and reduce pollution from cars stopping for red lights. They are also said to cut down on the severity of accidents because of the angle of potential collisions. However, if someone coming out into the circle is T-boned by a driver who was speeding, the effect could be very severe.
Editor’s Note: Evelyn McDonald has stepped outside of her role as our arts & Culture reporter to present an interesting opinion on traffic circles. Having lived in New England where driving on a traffic circle is like driving at the Indianapolis 500, I appreciate information on the 10 to 15 mph speed limit! We thank Evelyn for her contribution.