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Random Thoughts

Round and round

Hudson Cooper
Posted 5/27/22

A classic song by Joni Mitchell contains the lyrics “go round and round and round, in the circle game.”  

In the movie “National Lampoon’s European Vacation” …

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Random Thoughts

Round and round


A classic song by Joni Mitchell contains the lyrics “go round and round and round, in the circle game.”  

In the movie “National Lampoon’s European Vacation” Chevy Chase, unaccustomed to driving on the left side of the road, spends hours stuck in a London traffic circle as he ad nauseum points out Big Ben to his family. 

In a “roundabout way” I use these examples to introduce roundabouts, the subject of this column.

Roundabouts, also known as traffic circles, are a type of intersection junction that eliminate the need for traffic lights and stop signs. When properly placed it can effectively move traffic through intersections in an orderly fashion. 

However, to function properly drivers must appreciate and obey the “Yield” signs.

When approaching a roundabout a driver must yield to the cars that are already engaged in the traffic circle. Studies have shown that compared to stop signs and traffic lights at intersections, roundabouts may reduce the likelihood of collisions such as head-on and t-bone crashes. 

They also reduce excessive speeding by making drivers yield to cars already in the circle.

By eliminating the traditional crosswalk at an intersection, roundabouts provide a level of safety for pedestrians. Since traffic is flowing in only one direction, it is easier for a pedestrian to use a crosswalk.

With gas prices escalating, your fuel tank will not be depleted as you wait idling at a traffic light. Also, by eliminating a full stop at an intersection, your engine does not need additional gas to get your car up to full speed.

Countries in Europe have been using roundabouts for hundreds of years. In 1780, the Place de l’Etoile surrounded the famed Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Etoile means “star” in French, showing their civic pride. 

The roadway in New York City known as Columbus Circle was completed in 1905. A variation of the standard roundabout, Columbus Circle now includes traffic lights to allow for vehicles to maneuver around “etoile”-shaped connecting streets.

Sullivan County has a few roundabouts, or traffic circles. The two in Liberty allow for a continuous traffic flow from Route 17 to the center of town. When the Resorts World casino was built, a traffic circle was constructed off exit 106 of Route 17. 

Even for locals, the initial lack of signage caused confusion. It took some maneuvering to find the entrances to Route 17. Often it took 2 or 3 laps around the circle to get on the correct entrance ramp.

I am sure that many of my readers are wondering why the subject of roundabouts drove their way into my “Random Thoughts.” 

Actually, I began to think about them when I noticed, months ago, that crews were chopping down trees and shrubbery on the lands adjacent to exit 105.

 Years ago, when they removed trees and vegetation to remove the blind spot on the eastbound entrance to Route 17, it made sense. Previously entering that way was dangerous because you had a fraction of a second to assess if another vehicle was motoring in the right-hand lane. Removing that foliage made it safer.

But what is the reason for deforesting the other areas around exit 105? 

They did not even remove the felled trees. You can still see them as if some tornado ripped them out of the ground.

Years ago, cooler minds prevailed when there was talk about constructing traffic circles on the stretch of road between the contemplated site of Walmart and the area now near Dunkin’ Donuts.

I wonder if there are plans to go ahead with constructing more traffic circles on that piece of road. If so, whether you support it or not, I hope that they wait until after Labor Day. 

Otherwise, summer traffic could be backed up for miles potentially adding to the seasonal road rage that many of us witness.


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