As I go about my day-to-day in Lima, I still hear a pretty fair amount of grumbling about Lima’s decision to join the growing number of mid-major cities that have followed the lead of larger metro areas in creating rotaries to keep traffic moving in busy intersections.
The rotaries that has been the topic of a fair amount of discussion is on Lima’s west edge, at the intersection of Shawnee and Fort Amanda roads. As far as rotaries go, it’s really just a little brother compared to those in larger cities when it comes to the number of lanes and the amount of time a motorist is in it.
I first was exposed to rotaries as a kiddo passenger on summer vacations back to Boston and my father’s suburban hometown of Lynn. It was Massachusetts that, in the 1950s, gave America its first look at those traffic-easement presents called rotaries. In Massachusetts in the last couple of years, efforts have been made to turn many of its rotaries into roundabouts.
While many use the two terms interchangeably, Bay Staters don’t. Once lanes are painted with signs erected telling drivers specifically where they need to be depending on their desired direction, a rotary morphs to a roundabout. Where once there was more of a NASCAR lane-weaving feel where motorists often ramped their speeds up to 50 miles per hour in far larger circles that many in Lima may have trouble envisioning, trying to win the race to get to where they wanted to turn, the retrofits are intended to increase safety and reduce the merry-go-round instances where a motorist is forced to take another circular spin or two to be able to slide over to the proper lane to get where he wants to go.
Were my father still here, he’d certainly approve of these changes back in his home state, since he often shared with his family his opinion that nowhere in the country were there more impulsive and lead-footed drivers than Bostonians, while at the same time he’d chuckle at what we call a rotary just west of the “closed-for-good” Ike’s Restaurant.
In Massachusetts, some rotaries are notorious for their over-the-top congestion and frequent accidents, with perhaps the foremost one being the rotary that Lady Jane and I have sampled on more than one autumnal New England trip, the one at the entry point to Cape Cod near the Sagamore Bridge.
As far as our little traffic circle, given the few seconds I’m in it and the fact it’s only two lanes, I’m just not seeing the angst. If you just turn right and look right if you happen to be in the inside lane heading, for example, west on Shawnee to see if you’ve a fellow motorist that has chosen the option to head the same way in that outside lane rather than turning north onto Fort Amanda, the few seconds will pass quickly and uneventfully, and everyone should be just fine.
Certainly my childhood vacations exposed me to far larger and far more dangerous rotaries, ones where my father often had to, indeed, take an extra spin or two on the merry-go-round before he was able to position himself to turn where he wanted to, while at the same time giving his namesake son an early primer on the art of pressure-induced swearing, much to the consternation of my dear mother.
As someone who could make an all-star impatient team, I’m a big fan of rotaries, understanding and appreciating the whole concept of keeping us all moving. Those who grumble about our west-side circle must have some recall shortcomings if they don’t remember how long that light that used to hang overhead at that intersection took to change.
With just a few thimbles’ full of patience and common sense and being mindful of the one lane to the right if you’re in the inside lane, all should be well. Now, if you really want to complain about a rotary, just saddle up your steel steed and strap in for that 826-mile trip to that Cape Cod rotary near Sagamore Bridge. Now, that’s one worthy of complaints!
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.