Round and round
Improved traffic flows, aesthetics, and cost savings make roundabouts a good idea and the safety gains are compelling. An institute study shows far fewer crashes occur at intersections with roundabouts than at intersections with signals or stop signs. – Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (May 2000)
I?ALWAYS APPROACH the J.T.C. Ramsay Roundabout – aka the Statue of Emancipation Roundabout, aka the Bussa Roundabout – with trepidation.
Any weekday it is like landing a jetliner from a crowded sky, where more than one plane has been mistakenly given permission by the air traffic controller to come in. And the pedestrian crossing, which is smack on the south side of the roundabout’s circumference, is the landing strip.
The test is further aggravated by rogue turbo-powered mavericks darting and galloping, depending upon their varying weight, across the zebra at Bussa’s back.
They are inconsiderate, which makes them objectionable, and in many a way suicidal. But the worse lot are those who see you coming and give you a blind side, and then sashay through the pedestrian crossing.
The culprits are women: the kind who would stop traffic anywhere, being callipygian and all, and of Lowdown’s type. In their daring I’m Gonna Cross Here, So Watch Me, Baby, And Feast Yuh Eyes gait, they contribute to gridlock before the very eyes of a man who would rather have us freed.
Add to them the newspaper vendor, and the ackees and plums salesmen: fleet-footed teens without the fear of death meandering between trucks, SUVs, cars and the perturbed minds and steely faces of their drivers.
Coming out of three lanes, Haggatt Hall side, and from westward Two Mile Hill and eastward Mapp Hill, and merging into a two-lane quagmire is vexation to the soul.
The guy, clearly dressed for work, hurries in front of me, eager to get to the office and hopeful of not holding me up unnecessarily. No sooner has he cleared my peripheral view, than I start to roll, just to be confronted by Ms Callipygous. The young woman about to step onto the crossing, at the point of the three lanes becoming two, tugs at the hem of her short skirt. She could be heading to work; or maybe she in going to lime in town until opening time at Rehab.
She’s on the zebra by now and will take half-minute to sway and twist to reach me, and I’m already on the crossing, having braked gently to a halt.
Ms Callip goes merrily and slowly on her way, cavalierly, uncaringly and unhindered – in her sweet time. There is a group gathering like a rain cloud behind me as I jet off, foregoing any new slow motion from the prima donnas that abound, and anticipating the other dreaded roundabout outside the Samuel Jackson Prescod Polytechnic.
A colleague, who should know, told me that people can’t just saunter across the zebra willy-nilly, taking their time, styling as if on the catwalk, taunting drivers and mesmerizing others with their assets. He said I had done the right thing in letting Ms Callipygous cross, no matter how slowly, but I may have violated the road rules by driving off before she had reached the other end.
Truth be told, the pedestrian crossings at these roundabouts are a lick-down hazard. No sooner have you manoeuvred the case on your right, you are challenged face-on with another, where dexterity in braking is a prerequisite and patience is a lifesaver.
And it might not be so frightening if pedestrians stuck to the zebra crossing, and did not try skipping over to the other side in their haste. These wanderers need to be told they have lost their choice to cross the roads just anywhere by the roundabouts, in exchange for the right to cross the road in some safety at the zebra.
If we are going to keep the madness, let us be agreed at what point it should reside.
• Ridley Greene is a Caribbean multi-award winning journalist. Email [email protected]