Middlebury's new downtown roundabout-also known as a traffic rotary-has been creating some confusion among drivers uncertain regarding which driver gets the right-of-way-who yields, who stops? A rotary can be a real game of "no, after you, gar on!"
Roundabouts are the popular choice for New England towns flush with matching stimulus and other highway funds.
According to the New England Traffic Council, at least 12 new roundabouts have been built in two states-Connecticut and Massachusetts-alone recently. So, better get used to navigating these crazy circles of asphalt.
According to Kellie Ann Laffert-a former Boston-based roundabout critic who luckily escaped East Coast traffic snares by moving to a new residence in the pristine Arizona desert-roundabouts are just no fun to drive.
"I despise roundabouts for many reasons," Laffert said. "The main one is I lost my business while They closed the road I was located on during the construction process. The second reason is that no one knows how to drive in them."
When I told Laffert my experience of navigating the mad roundabout at the Sagamore Bridge to Cape Cod in Massachusetts, she laughed.
"Don't get me started on that one," she said. "In Massachusetts no one can hear you scream."
Well, whether you like them or you hate them, Laffert has pointers on how to navigate roundabouts.
New Englanders better get used to the circular things-they're here to stay and more of them are planned from Rhode Island to Maine.
Westerners have managed to escape the East Coast disease of urban roundaboutitis, so there may be some hope for the rest of the nation where more linear, 'stop-and-go' minds still prevail:
•"All roundabouts are a yield only: If there is a car in the roundabout already you must yield. The vehicle in the roundabout has the right of way. If there is no car in the roundabout you do not have to stop you can just go. My aggravation is that most cars will stop every time before entering the roundabout.
•"Typically the inside lane has the option to go straight of continue around the roundabout you can not turn right in this lane. The outer lane has the option to go straight or turn right it is not an option to continue around the roundabout.
•"If it's a two-lane rotary, stay in your lane. You should not change lanes in a Roundabout it is not safe. This is hard to do especially for large trucks and RVs. My advice is don't be even with one of these vehicles they might accidentally push you to the curb."
Perhaps one idea why New England towns like rotaries, said Laffert, is that they slow down truck traffic and in some cases have forced big truckers to find alternate routes.
"Roundabouts are part of the modern, non-linear urban planning mindset," said Laffert, "and one more reason to despise them. But planning trends have a way of changing. In time, urban planners may discover a bold new concept in traffic flow-the good old-fashioned intersection."