Flatlander News - Coming Full Circle

Brendan seems to have circles on his mind, big time. So do I, come to think of it.

He describes something that will rapidly become more common around here in the Granite State. Frankly, it's about time.

Coming Full Circle

It's summertime in New Hampshire and folks from all around the country will be traveling to the Granite State to revel in the many attractions we have to offer.

Canterbury Shaker Village, Clark’s Trading Post, Funspot, The Hobo Railroad and cruises on the Mount Washington, to name a few.

This year a new attraction has been added to this vast array. It just opened for business this past Motorcycle Week and already it's the talk of the Lakes Region. Situated between the Weirs and downtown Meredith, tourists
and locals alike are flocking to take part in what has already become a part of our state's history.... New Hampshire's first roundabout.

A roundabout, contrary to popular belief, is not a traffic circle.

In fact the dictionary definition for a traffic circle is: “a road junction formed around a central circle about which traffic moves in one direction only.”

The dictionary definition for a roundabout is: “The same as a traffic circle except much, much smaller. Easily navigated by two-wheeled vehicles and four-wheeled vehicles the size of a household meat freezer.”

In all fairness, the roundabout has brought about the desired results: to slow traffic down and to make the roads safer. Traffic has definitely slowed, in fact sometimes it’s at a complete standstill as drivers unfamiliar with it, and those just plain confused, try to jockey in and out of the thing.

The proper use of the roundabout is - and I hope you're listening because I am only going to say this once - is those already in the roundabout have the right-of-way and those entering must yield. In order to move things along there are some signs posted that advise those already in the roundabout to use their directional signals
(remember when they used to be called blinkers?) so those waiting can tell where they are heading so they can decide if it is safe to enter or not. The only problem is that the distance and time factor between entering the roundabout and then getting off is so minuscule that one would need the reflexes of a gazelle in order to signal that fast.

Once someone is in the roundabout they can circle as long as they want and, by law, everyone would have to wait until they decided to get off. In fact there is already an urban legend going around that the first person to
ever enter the roundabout was so confused that he continues, to this day, to be circling and circling trying to figure out how to get off. A local folk singer has already written a song to commemorate this auspicious event. Perhaps you've heard it.

“Did he ever return
No he never returned
and his fate is still unknown
He may circle forever
Round the roundabout of
He's the man who never

One of the great things about the roundabout is that it is bringing the community together. Every so often the word goes out by e-mail and cell phone.

“A logging truck is on Rte 3 on its way to the roundabout.”

Within minutes groups of locals can be seen gathering together around the circumference of the roundabout waiting in eager anticipation for the nose of the 18-wheeler to appear. As it crests the hill folks wait nervously to see if the big rig will be able to maneuver the tiny turn. Some gasps go up (as well as a few side bets) as the semi makes its approach.

“Hope he knows how to use the cobblestones.”

“Five-to-one he doesn't make it.”

The roundabout has been such a success as tourists and locals alike line up and wait for hours on end just to take one small pass through this new part of New Hampshire history, that there is already talk of building another one at the Rte3/25 intersection in downtown Meredith. (I also heard mention of a waterslide and midway, but I think that's just wishful thinking.) There's also a plan on the drawing board for a few roundabout fairs that will take place during very busy summer weekends.

So, if you haven't yet seen New Hampshire's first roundabout I urge you to make the trip today and find out for yourself what the fuss is all about. The lines are growing daily so take advantage of it now.

Take a ride on the roundabout. You‘ll be glad you did.

Brendan Smith welcomes your comments at brensmith@metrocast.net.

Brendan may not have known, but there is a second roundabout that opened shortly after the one in Meredith. It's located in my old home town of Plymouth where Route 3 meets with Route 175A. There's another one being built in the city of Keene. And I suspect that more are planned for a couple of more intersections here in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire.

Believe it or not I'm actually looking forward to them.

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