Re: The Traffic Circle Of Hell

1

Saw this and was reminded of unfogged.


Posted by: William Henry Harrison | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 8:42 PM
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Two questions: How often are these inspections required? How many Zipcars are there in the average municipal area? I'm thinking this would be a part-time job -- one I might apply for. I haven't listened to NPR in ages.


Posted by: Zippy the Comment Frog | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 8:42 PM
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It should be noted that traffic circles are an excellent means of urban traffic control, and are far less hellish than your typical intersection.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 8:45 PM
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Aren't there special arrangements for fleets?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 8:45 PM
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Becks: which state or District was this in? My Virginia inspections are always absurdly easy: drop off at mechanic on the way to work; mechanic calls around lunchtime to report (usually nothing; occasionally a taillight or whatever); mechanic picks me up after work with the courtesy car.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 8:58 PM
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I think this was probably DC.


Posted by: tweedledopey | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:00 PM
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For a research project in college I read some mostly dull technical papers on traffic circles. The non-dull parts were speculations about national character and traffic flow. Apparently, the relative popularity of roundabouts in England as compared to the US has to do with American individualism - which requires the explicit instruction of signed/signaled intersections - and English cooperativeness. Or maybe it's American unruliness and an English tendency to conform. In any case, it was all about stereotypes.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:09 PM
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7: How bout US contrariness in the face of a superior solution (NIH syndrome) ?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:13 PM
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7: Hmph. That makes sense, I guess. I like them in theory, but it seems around here folks seem ignorant of how they work. Like, yielding to me when you're in the circle and I'm waiting to enter the circle. DUDE! You have the right of way. Gah.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:13 PM
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9: Well this is the momentum issue. They work great so long as there are enough of them around that people don't get all anxious and unpredictable in them.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:17 PM
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I suppose I should note that these speculations were entirely evidence-free. I found them more amusing than convincing; it's not like traffic-circles built according to modern principles have been placed on completely blank slates in either country.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:17 PM
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There was a really awesome article a while back about a guy who designed intersections with as little signage as possible, with the idea that people would get used to proceeding really cautiously through them. He trusted it so much that he would walk backwards through the intersection to test it.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:17 PM
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Someone probably linked to it here and I'm too lazy to find it.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:18 PM
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Oh, and there is one near here that explicitly gives right of way to an entering stream (major street). This is the worst of both worlds, because it screws you up whether or not you are used to circles. It's a terrible design, and doesn't really function as a circle anyway.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:19 PM
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It's a terrible design

I thought that was part of your city's mission statement.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:21 PM
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The first time I rented a zipcar, I ended up with a car that had some kind of strange transmission. It is possible for a car to have a dual standard/automatic transmission? Or to have an automatic transmission that you still have to put into low or high gear or something?

Well, I still don't know what exactly was the problem (I'm the kind of clueless driver they need inspectors for, I guess), but I assumed I was driving an automatic, and found myself on the Long Island Expressway, with all these cars zooming by me at 70 mph, and I couldn't get past 40 mph before my zipcar started making strange and scary death rattles. Totally hellish, and I had no idea what was the problem. So I got off at the nearest exit, and looked around the dashboard and controls and etc, and I swear I eventually managed to flip a switch that then put the car into straightforward automatic mode.

The difference in rates between Queens zipcars and Manhattan zipcars is quite significant. But even the Manhattan rates are cheaper than actually owning a car in this city (no, it's not the insurance, it's the parking).


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:22 PM
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I've never seen a traffic circle, except occasionally on a college campus where the speed limit is 15. What states have them?


Posted by: Bricolage | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:22 PM
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17

New York has a few, I think they used to be more common but have proved to be unsafe.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:24 PM
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there were taxis in line with me so I don't think there's a special process for fleet vehicles

It could be that there is a process for fleet vehicles, and that the taxis in line were driven by owner/operators and therefore technically not part of a fleet. Just guessing.

We have a traffic circle here with, somewhat incongruously, a big gilded statue of Joan of Arc in it. It's no more confusing to the clueless drivers of Portland than any other intersection, as far as I can tell.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:25 PM
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Not a state, but D.C. has many. Arlington, VA (né part of D.C.) has areas with them.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:25 PM
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Circles built in the old monumental styles - like the Enlightenment-ish plans, or the Beaux Arts/City Beautiful pans - tend to be somewhat unsafe (and weren't designed for automobiles anyway) and have complicated rules/signaling. The English roundabouts are built along different principles and have a better safety record. At least that's what I understood as of 1997 or so.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:28 PM
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Massachusetts has a quite a few circles.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:28 PM
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The bus coach went around so many circles between Gloucester and Birmingham that I started to get nauseous.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:32 PM
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I hate those English roundabouts. I don't care if they're actually safer or more rational, or what have you. I don't like the possibility of going round and round in an endless circle without ever getting off...I want the right-of-way to be linear and angular and unambiguous.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:36 PM
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The best traffic circle. Better picture.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:45 PM
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If you've had very little exposure to roundabouts, the best way to learn is in a 14-passenger Toyota minibus with a little diesel and a manual transmission on a bank holiday weekend in Britain. You can knock off your roundabout, driving on the wrong side of road, and shifting with the left hand merit badges all at once, with plenty of traffic around to keep things interesting. Also oversized vehicle, but I already had that one.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:46 PM
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And there are several traffic circles here in Durham.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:46 PM
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Credit to Kansas, obviously, but that was a hell of a choke by Memphis. Totally unprepared to play a close game at the end.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:52 PM
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They've been a bad free throw shooting team all year.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:54 PM
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That's what I figured when Kansas started fouling with more than 2 minutes to go. But their use of the clock when both ahead and behind was terrible, along with some other decisions. Like failing to guard that guy down court and failing to get the rebound.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:57 PM
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I blame the dribble drive offense.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 9:59 PM
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16:
It is possible for a car to have a dual standard/automatic transmission?

Yep. It's called a manumatic or sometimes Tiptronic.


Posted by: Gozer | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 10:00 PM
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Yeah, they botched the OT. Too bad. I was sorta rooting for them.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 10:00 PM
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Something like 58% during the regular season, which I think was 2nd worst in the country, IIRC.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 10:01 PM
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Hey apo, Is there a good quick and dirty guide on how to conduct a review of medical literature for research purposes?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 10:03 PM
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Addendum to 32:

I should add that Tiptronic is a registered Porsche trademark, but is generally used to describe any transmission that features some kind of clutchless gearshifting (usually you move the shifter into a second gate that allows for upshifting and downshifting).


Posted by: Gozer | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 10:04 PM
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I thought that a roundabout was scary the first time I drove in one with my driving instructor. I think that they're called roundabouts in California, but in Massachusetts it's called a rotary.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 10:06 PM
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35: This is a good overview of the resources at hand. I always start with PubMed.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 10:10 PM
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39

Thanks. I was also curious about how one evaluates research design and all that. Do you ever use CRISP?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 10:12 PM
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I was also curious about how one evaluates research design and all that.

By reading the synopses of the relevant study reports, so far as I know. Most of the stuff I deal with at work at are reports of completed studies and so long past the stage of literature review. I mostly use it just to check that the references in the Background section actually contain the information that they're cited as containing.

Do you ever use CRISP?

Is that the medical imaging one? I've never had to, no.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 10:30 PM
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CRISP is the NIH funded grants database. All you get is investigator name, abstract, and year of funding. Not very useful in my opinion, since it's a list of intended projects rather than completed projects.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 11:50 PM
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I would assume that CRISP is useful for researchers applying for grants. I'm applying for a job that requires doing literature reviews. Because it's only 30 hours per week, it only says "bachelor's preferred." Most of the job is subject recruitment and obtaining informed consent, but conducting literature reviews is part of the job description.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 7-08 11:56 PM
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Yes, some of my colleagues have used CRISP to get a sense of how successful grant abstracts are written. I think it's mostly there because the taxpayers are paying for the research and the thought is that they deserve to know something about where their money is going.

As for your main question, I'd say that the way to learn how to evaluate study design is to immerse yourself in the literature of the subfield and expose yourself to the debates that are going on amongst practitioners in that field. It's seemed to me (at least in basic science land, perhaps it's different for clinical studies) that there are many unwritten critiques of the way such-and-such group does their research that get expressed only in conversation, and that the sorts of objections to study design that get raised are unfortunately idiosyncratic to each speciality. I can evaluate papers in my niche, but it's hard for me to know whether a study I see outside my niche is crap. Then again, I've never been very good at the critiquing of papers.

But the thing you're going to be able to do more easily is summarize the written consensus of the field. You can do this by going to review articles. When you do a PubMed search, click on the "Reviews" tab to get review papers matching that search only. By looking at a bunch of those, you'll be able to put together a picture of what is out there and hopefully abstract away some sense of who is debating whom over what. You can then learn more about how study design is critiqued within that field by looking at the sorts of critiques that are levied against other papers by review authors.

You should also know about Journal Citation Reports, Science Citation Index, and Impact Factors. (Wiki links because the real site requires a subscription) Basically, JCR and SCI are the cheat sheets that tell you whether a journal and paper are important to the field. When you're approaching a new field, it's helpful to use these sites to find the journals and papers that are most often cited (and hence are considered important by those in the field).


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 12:16 AM
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(Sorry, should have taken that to email. But now everyone can know!)


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 12:17 AM
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Thanks Otto. It's research on childhood obesity. I really wish (for many reasons) that I knew something about statistics.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 12:24 AM
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I may follow up by e-mail.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 12:25 AM
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No mention of traffic circles is complete without the magic roundabout.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 12:41 AM
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If this is DC, new cars don't need to be inspected for two years. I imagine Zipcar turns over most of its fleet quicker than that, no?


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 12:49 AM
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47: Only 22 comments late, Martin.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 1:26 AM
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22: it reminded me of whirlpools, waiting to suck you down.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 1:46 AM
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That'll teach me to comment before coffee.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:11 AM
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That'll teach me to comment before coffee.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:11 AM
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In re: roundabouts. The US has gone about it all wrong. Roundabouts are found most commonly (if at all) in urban districts, where they serve as a substitute for traffic signals, while rural intersections are signed.

The most effective use of roundabouts is to replace signed intersections on roads outside of urban environments. In this context, they make a contribution to safety (by automatically slowing down all vehicles at the point of conflict) and to environmental protection (be eliminating the necessity of a complete stop in either traffic direction). The French roadway network is full of them. Virtually any time two national roadways meet (or a national roadway and a major departmental roadway), the junction is a roundabout.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 6:50 AM
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39: how one evaluates research design and 45:

I was going to say that knowing enough statistics to be able to tell if a given design and its Ns even allow its questions to be answered would be good. A good grasp of the difference between "significant" and "statistically significant" would help too. IMO there's lots of the latter, not so much of the former around in the medical biz.



Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 6:57 AM
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BG pwned me on correcting mrh. It's a rotary, Marvey. Very, very different. Or at least, named something very, very different in an apparent effort to be pointlessly confusing.

12: you're thinking of the mighty woonerf, and probably this article.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 7:14 AM
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One aspect of rotaries/roundabouts that confounds me is that if you have a dominant traffic flow from, say, 9 o'clock to 3, and traffic in the rotary has the right of way, how does the person at 6 o'clock ever get in? It seems to have this problem whenever there's significant flow from the entrance "upstream" from you.

I also don't really understand multi-lane rotaries (I'm looking at you, twin donuts of death). Again, no problem if there's really just one flow, but the person on the inside lane always seems to think that they can just exit to the main road regardless of what the person in the outer lane is doing.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 7:20 AM
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I lived in Scotland for 2 years and the roundabouts were a work of art (although they took a bit of getting used to, especially when you felt like you were driving on the wrong side of the road anyway.) New Jersey, where I live now, has traffic circles, and they're disasterous. There is no common consensus (or signage) on how to use them, so people do dumbass things like exiting from the inside lane, or continuing around in the outside lane. There was one near my house at the intersection of two fairly busy streets that averaged about 500 accidents per year - that has been replaced with lights and the slightly less disasterous, but still annoying, Jersey Jughandles.


Posted by: Nicole | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 7:26 AM
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twin donuts of death

I thought you were actually talking about Twin Donuts, and was very confused.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 7:27 AM
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Good link, Sifu.

Shut up, okay?!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 7:30 AM
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No one has posted about Bob Dylan getting a special citation from the Pulitzer people???

Finally, our favorite unknown folk singer is getting some recognition!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 7:34 AM
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57: ooh, another chance to link to my favorite traffic system design website. Jughandles!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 7:37 AM
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twin donuts. Though there are three donut shops in the vicinity.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 7:38 AM
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The French roadway network is full of them. Virtually any time two national roadways meet (or a national roadway and a major departmental roadway), the junction is a roundabout.

In France, the local community gets a special earmark for putting up traffic circles. The more trafffic circles, the more money. Not surprisingly, little rural French nowheresvilles have a superfluity of traffic circles.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 7:48 AM
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Yes, some of my colleagues have used CRISP to get a sense of how successful grant abstracts are written

My sense is that this approach can be problematic in some areas, because they shift quite quickly. BG, while my research is in other areas, I am involved with similar grants, and happen to know a couple of ex-directors (NIH sections) with whom I've talked about this stuff a fair bit. Feel free to email if you'd like.

I don't know how much access you have to this, but research universities often have seminars on grant writing that gather the latest information....


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 8:58 AM
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highway engineer pranks


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:09 AM
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65: there's a half-finished cloverleaf interchange in Lagos that operates much like the inescapable cloverleaf there; because it's only half complete, certain directions basically dead-end, creating a permanent traffic jam and, by now, a thriving market selling to all the (essentially) permanently immobilized vehicles.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:23 AM
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There's a J.G. Ballard novel in that.


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:29 AM
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64: Yeah, and the hospital has education programs for RAs. I'm just trying to figure out how to demonstrate that I'm a serious candidate. I think that the grants have already been obtained.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:49 AM
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How much would that suck.

I bet it sucks even more when they have to get the inspection done at 4am the morning after Thanksgiving.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 9:59 AM
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Ok, gotcha. NIH is big. There are a number of working groups that have tools available beyond CRISP, I'm not sure if anything interesting is available more in your area of interest. Spending a bit of time browsing might be worthwhile (but it's a huge network of sites, make take a while)


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 10:03 AM
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Apo is a medical researcher? NOW I AM SCARED.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 1:22 PM
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Apo is a medical researcher?

My medical research is mostly free-lance self-testing. I'm a technical writer in the industry, though.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:05 PM
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No mention of traffic circles is complete without the magic roundabout.

Ah, Swindon! Now I must go re-read the Thursday Next series. I believe the magic roundabout is featured, or at least mentioned, in the third or fourth one.


Posted by: wrenae | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:11 PM
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Apo is a medical researcher? NOW I AM SCARED.

Apo isn't, but read is. Even scarier, no?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:46 PM
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To bring together the "France" and "New Jersey" subthreads here, I'll just note that there are traffic circles in some of the rural parts of South Jersey. I don't know how they compare to the French ones.

There's also a traffic circle near my apartment that works very well.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 8-08 2:49 PM
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Traffic circles were completely unheard of in my rural hometown. They were covered in Driver's Ed, very briefly, as "how yankees do intersections." I rather like them, having had some exposure.

The first time I drove in Scotland was very much akin to 26 except that the car was a Ford Ka with precisely enough room for a friend, me, one soda and one suitcase each if we put the back seat down to extend the hatch. I had to pull out of the rental place into a six-lane divided highway and use a three-lane roundabout to get going the other direction. I hadn't driven a stick in five or six years and was completely freaked out by being on the "wrong" side of the car but all the gears being in the "right" place so that first was out-and-up, etc. We stalled out five times in the roundabout but after that it was pretty clear sailing for the next week.

In my highly detailed fantasy life I import a '98 Ford Ka and drive it around while honking at random using a horn that goes A-OOGA!.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 1:13 PM
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Apo isn't, but read is. Even scarier, no?

If you stretch things a bit, I am. Be afraid.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 9-08 1:18 PM
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