Luckily the slant streets are residential so you don't have to deal with
them unless you live there. They do force one of the main drags to go
off at a 45 degree angle for a while though.
Street names don't play a big part in my navigation either. I know a
few, mostly because they have bridges, so I'm pretty sure orange Street
runs over the orange Street bridge. But then it does its 45 degree thing
and changes its name and I start getting vague.
The worst city I've worked with is DC. A street segment can have up to 6
alternate names. You can even see that in google maps. Sometimes it's
labeled Constitution Ave, sometimes US 50, sometimes US1.
The old part of Denver is oriented "on a slant" (i.e., NE-SW and SE-NW
grid). But, move out a bit and everything "snaps" back to a N-S, E-W
grid. It's as if someone looked at a map a bit later on and said, "Wait!
a rigid grid layout ONLY MAKES SENSE if aligned with the four major
compass points!" (Why?)
Here, roads take 90 degree turns and keep the same name -- except instead of
being North Foobar Road, it is now East Foobar Road. And, the numbers
jump from say 2800 North to 7200 East -- for NEIGHBORING properties!
In other places, a 90 degree turn changes the name of the road but
you don't quite realize you are now on a different road and heading
in an entirely different direction!
Only visited DC. And, there, got around mainly via the bomb shelters... er,
We do computer aided dispatch for emergency responders and a good deal
of my work is on the GIS side. Some of the GIS data we get is enough to
give you heartburn. I've got a couple of tools I've developed that runs
a sanity check on the data.
Do that for a while and you get a certain respect for Google's maps. Of
course, Google has more people just working on their map product than we
have in the whole company.
The worst is Puerto Rico. They're not very imaginative so they keep
recycling street names in the same political boundary, if they bother
naming the street. Street numbers are highly optional too. There's a
USPS document that details addressing requirements and conventions.
After doing their best to explain PR they eventually admit mail delivery
often comes down to the letter carrier knowing who lives where in their
part of town.
I have a friend who lives in England. His *house* has a *name*!
WTF? Do you have to commit every house name to memory in order
to get around?? (The house's name is unrelated to *his* name;
sort of like vanity addresses in the US -- though I expect these
are more "historical addresses"... like "Paul Revere's House")
You just ;look at the street signs on the corners, not the "route
number" signs that are usually in the middle of the block, since that
can change if they reroute something like US1 through the city
DC is really not bad if you understand the grid system for the
The numbers are what you would expect going north and south, east and
west are letters and they skip J, X, Y and Z (I am not sure why)
After W, they start with 2 syllable names, then 3 syllable names.
The avenues are diagonal and there is not really much system there.
That is where all the circles (round abouts) are.
Once you get out of the original city part, things get a little more
random. "places" pop up everywhere. Some fit the pattern (number or
letter) others just appear. I assume it was a popular path that got
Anyone who thinks round abouts are the answer, never lived in DC. They
work great until traffic overloads them and then they just become
nightmare intersections with confusing lights and eventually tunnels.
On 10/4/2015 9:32 AM, email@example.com wrote:
Supposedly, "roundabouts" (which we grew up calling "rotaries") were
incorporated to the city's layout for defensibility. But, that's
just reliance on a bit or lore from a high school Am. Hist. teacher.
Control the "roundabout" and you have control over the arterials
that feed into it.
[N.B. There are technical distinctions between roundabouts, rotaries,
traffic circles, etc.]
The problem with "circular intersections" in the US is most folks
encounter them so infrequently and with such trepidation that
they make those drivers unsure/nervous when they *are* encountered.
Most folks growing up with them take them in stride -- just like
an on-ramp to a freeway, etc.
Statistically, they enhance safety at intersections for which
they are appropriate.
There were a couple of (larger) traffic *circles* near one of my
residences in MA that routed traffic effortlessly at freeway
speeds. No one ever complained about entering/exiting them.
Here, we have some *stupid* intersections that look like
an *excuse* for a circular intersection: a central hub
that is barely a few feet across crammed into the center of
a traditional intersection! I.e., all it does is force folks
in each direction to veer off to the shoulders of each road
to avoid whacking their inner tires on that "hub". And,
gives all traffic the right "not to stop". <frown>
Here, we have
There used to be a traffic circle near here, that had a lot of traffic
(5 highways). It was often blocked because a truck was going too fast
and fell over. That circle has been replaces with a light.
There is another circle about 15 miles away, but it's not on any major
highways and gets little traffic.
82 days until the winter celebration (Friday December 25, 2015 12:00:00
AM for 1 day).
Well, most of the time. People have been know to repave and not change
the signs. I took some time away from the high tech world in the 90's
and drove a truck OTR, something I wanted to do when I was a kid. I had
a delivery in Brooklyn so I snuck in at 3 AM. I got off the BQE and soon
came to an underpass marked 12'. This was before GPSs and the thought of
exploring Brooklyn with a 53' trailer in tow wasn't appealing. I was
contemplating my next move when another trucker stopped, told me they
had reworked the underpass and never changed the signs so I was good to
go. I crept under, expecting to hear bad noises, but he was right.
Boston was the real joy, particularly Memorial Drive. It's well marked
and accurate, but Mom & Pop bringing junior and his junk to Harvard or
MIT in a rented U-Haul don't think the signs pertain to them.
I always found Storrow drive (esp around MGH) to be the one that got
on my nerves, most. Too many roads that "had no place to grow up".
Same sort of thing in NYC -- Henry Hudson, FDR, etc. I've learned that
I *really* take comfort in median strips! A guardrail separating lanes
with no shoulders and high traffic volume (at high speeds) doesn't
set well with my peace of mind!
Here, we have bigger/wider/more divided roads IN TOWN!
I didn't drive on Storrow much. I worked at at 840 Memorial Dr between
Western and Cambridge streets but I lived in NH. I had a room in Alston
and would drive down Sunday night, park the car, and hoof it for the
week. I later did some contract work for Orion after they'd moved to the
old Schraft plant in Somerville, but it was the same deal. I did a lot
of walking in Boston. Sometimes I'd take the train but it was usually
faster to walk.
We lived in Medford, Arlington, Cambridge, etc. Work for me was
Cambridge or ~Dedham. Wife worked in Beantown near the Fens. The
School, Work, Home loop (~40-50mi) wasn't possible without a daily
So, having a vehicle meant we'd frequent places further off (e.g.,
friends in Melrose, on the Lynnway, etc.
That traffic circle out by Flesh Pond was never in any danger of hitting
freeway speeds. I lived in Springfield for a couple of years and had to
get a MA DL. The only thing I remember from the written test was the one
law pertaining to rotaries: thou shalt go counter-clockwise.
There was only one traffic circle near where I grew up. If nothing else
rotaries were associated with Massachusetts and in New York we
remembered how we almost had our own private little war with
Massachusetts during the Revolution.
The takeaway message from that article is:
"Prior to the 2002 work, the accident rate at the circle was about one
per week, but were of low severity."
That's the one known and loved here. They're a blast on the bike and
they're doable at a fairly brisk speed in the Yaris. For the favored
ride, a F250 with the long bed and extended crew cab, they're a great
way to destroy a couple of hundred bucks worth of tires.
I like the part about bicyclists having a choice. Become a pedestrian
for a while or die.
I don't know how well the link will work, but it's a real gem. It's your
basic traffic circle except if you're just taking the first 90 degree
right leg there is a lane outside of the circle. You can also do that
from the circle but it's pretty awkward. The signage sucks so there are
quite a few oh shit moments as drivers realize they're in the wrong lane
for whatever they wanted to do. Luckily, despite the grandiose street
names it's a low traffic area.
[Is Big Joyce Chen's still there?]
Traffic moved through there at a pretty brisk pace when I lived near
Spy Pond. Not 65MPH but surely not 35MPH. Come off 128, down 2 and
zip around the rotary.
There were also two VERY large circles on the way to Melrose (?)...
probably half mile or more in circumference?
Driver *in* rotary has the right of way. And, never 8stop* in rotary;
if you screw up and find yourself in the wrong lane (larger rotaries)
to make your desired exit, come around again! :>
There has been a push (though resisted) here for grade-separated
intersections -- thru traffic (any direction) passes unimpeded.
Folks wanting to exit or enter a roadway are forced to stop/merge.
But, they are expensive to construct as you have to create
artificial overpasses and underpasses.
Ours are obvious "afterthoughts". Someone decided that traffic in a
particular area (typ residential) had increased and didn't want to invest
in a stop sign! So, let's totally screw things up with this "pile of
debris" in the middle of the roadway (doing nothing to increase the
size/width of the intersection -- just placing obstacles in the
I've seen circles where there is an *inner* set of "paths". Others that
allow you to enter the rotary and essentially make a U-turn -- heading
back *out* the way you came in! (in England, they have some weird
variations on this -- you never know which way someone in the
intersection is likely to go!)
As with much of driving, folks who are hesitant tend to be the ones who
muck things up! "Sh*t or get off the pot!"
They are real popular in New Zealand (we were just there) and I am
aware of how they are supposed to work from DC but the problem comes
when the traffic overwhelms the circle.
Because the car in the circle has the right of way, if it is a steady
line of cars entering up stream of you, there is never a chance to
enter. Then they have to install a light on the feeder roads and all
of the advantages of the circle fade away.
It also becomes an issue when they have multiple lanes. Even if you
know where you are going, getting into the correct lane can be a
I understand they may be safer on paper but that is just because all
of the crashes are "rubbin" not hitting. It doesn't mean people are
not swapping paint.
They ended up tunneling under the biggest circles in DC to keep the
BTW I doubt "defense" had anything to do with the layout in DC.
L'enfant wanted it to be just like Paris.
If you need a traffic light to control the circle, why have the circle
at all. The whole idea is it was supposed to make the traffic flow
better. If everyone has to stop at a light before they can enter the
circle it is just an unnecessary turn in the road.
The thing that might make some sense is in residential places where
they call the circles a traffic calming device but moving traffic
efficiently is the opposite of what they want to do.
They are trying to discourage through traffic and slow it down.
On 10/04/2015 10:32 AM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
I haven't been in DC for years but the last time I got out of the
touristy part I was wishing for a Bradley.
The city engineer here fell in love with roundabouts. Often that
consists of planting flowers in the middle of the intersection of
residential streets. They don't last too long. Being residential areas
they tend to attract moving vans. 18 wheelers only bend in one place.
Some are larger and work fairly well. One I loathe is bigger than the
flower pot version but is still too small. one car will fit into each
quadrant but it's impossible to tell when the driver intends to leave
the circle so all traffic stops until people figure out what the driver
is going to do.
The same engineer also loves bulb outs. I guess the theory is if you
extend the sidewalk out into the street the pedestrians will have a
shorter dash. What it means in practice is the bike lane you've been
pedaling down suddenly ends and you're forced out into the traffic lane.
The university where my wife worked in Health Services used Mac
Medical, on macintosh computers, with a mac based server. It was down
more than my windows network.
I wasn't impressed. Nor was she.
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