Thursday, July 26, 2007

If You Come to a Fork in the Road

Yogi Berra is often quoted as saying, "If you come to a fork in the road, take it". I love his befuddled comments because even though they appear confusing, they actually make a lot of sense.

Riding and driving here in New Zealand is also a bit confusing. When riding, I have to check traffic over the right shoulder instead of the left. Brett (son-in-law extraordinaire) loves to hang back when we are approcaching the car to see if I'll instinctively head for the right side of the car. He enjoys my embarassment as I find the steering wheel has somehow been moved to the opposite side of the car! Pedestrian crossings are the most dangerous. I'm conditioned to look left for oncoming traffic and then step out to cross. There is never traffic coming from the left - but lots from the right.

Then there are the round-abouts. They abound in NZ. One enters on a sign that says "give way" and you yield to anything coming from the right. Then you close your eyes, hit the gas or stomp the pedals and throw yourself into the mess. When you come to the proper exit, you signal and make your way on to the next round-about - ususally in the next block. Actually, I like round-abouts because like Yogi's quotes, even though they appear confusing, they actually make a lot of sense. I love not having to wait for traffic signals here.

American traffic signals are the bane of my life - particularly the one at Herbison and Old - 27 in DeWitt. If you are not sitting at the crossing into or out of the Meijer lot when the light turns green for those across from you, the light stays red. If you happen to be riding an aluminum framed bicycle at the same intersection, the light doesn't change even if you've been camped there for hours because the magnetic pick up in the pavement totally ignores you. And how often have we set at a light (im)patiently waiting while there is absolutely NO TRAFFIC coming on the cross road. Typically, some poor schmuck comes along just as the light turns green for me. It makes no sense.
I would advocate the installation of more round-abouts in the U.S.. Not for the aforementioned Old-27 intersection - a four lane round-about is a nightmare on a whole new level! But many minor lights and four way stops could be replaced with lovely round-abouts with planters in the middle. It would be great sport to go watch U.S. drivers deal with them for the first few weeks as well.

So, I'm out on my ride the other day and I'm making my way around a beautiful round-about with brick pavers and garden in the central circle and what do I come across...a fork in the road...literally. So, I took it.


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