Home > Everyday Life > Let’s talk around those Roundabouts in a round about way . . .

Let’s talk around those Roundabouts in a round about way . . .

So it took me over an hour to get to work on Wednesday.   Yes, I experienced my first major traffic back up on the infamous A8 this week and unfortunately due to a major traffic accident.  I wouldn’t say that the French are that worse at driving; I would say traffic is traffic regardless which corner of the global you reside.   Yet the statistics aren’t in the French favor as it holds some of highest rates of traffic accidents on the European continent.   There is good news – the rate is coming down.

Scooters, Motorcycles and Bicycles . . . oh my!

Scooters, Motorcycles and Bicycles . . . oh my!

The unique experience here is the number of scooters and motorcycles.  They are the complication.  Nearly all the accidents that I have witnessed involved a scooter or motorcycle.  Personally I am always so conscious of where they are in reference to me on the highway.  I bow down to them and allow them through and never try to out run them.  They have the road as far as I am concerned because they are the one taking the risk.  When I first arrived I actually had the concept of owning a scooter here thinking that might be a cheaper alternative to the expense of a car.  Now, that thought is nothing more than a fleeting memory.  Yet the French carry on usually wearing their helmets but with inappropriate footwear like flip-flops.  This morning as I walked to my car there was a man on his motorcycle waiting at the light.  His barely 3 years old son was clinging to his back perfectly emotionless.  It was an awesome moment and captured the contradiction of France’s approach to driving.  At least the boy was wearing a helmet.

Living in a worker centric society even affects what happens to you in an accident. If the accident happens on your way to work or from work, you are covered by the State.  Clearly I am not going to work by choice, I have to go in order to be a good citizen. 😉 So why shouldn’t the State cover me?  Of course this law is annulled if you go to the mall or visit someone else on your way to work.  That little deviation is your personal choice to go on that road, at that time and get into that accident.  It is also time sensitive.  It is hard to make a claim that you were going to work at noon when your shift starts at 9:00.  Consequently we have to communicate to our managers if we come into work excessively late so that there was written proof that you were starting your day later than normal.  Of course there is one exception clause . . . you are allowed to stop by the boulangerie (bakery) on your commute and still make a claim. 🙂

Of course you can’t avoid the topic of driving in Europe without the addressing the rond-point (roundabouts).  These inventions can be either your worst nightmare or brilliant example of engineering.  I was nervous when I first arrived and having to navigate these . . . things.  But I have come to appreciate this controlled chaos that is a daily routine for any Frenchman.  There are several positives to this feat of engineering:

  • they save electricity,
  • they handle multiple streets intersecting at once,
  • and most importantly if you miss your turn just keep heading straight as there will be another roundabout allowing to U-turn easily back to the same place.
Around and Around

Around and Around

Of course there are certain rules you have to play by such as:

  • the folks already in the roundabout have the right-a-way (there are exceptions to this rule),
  • if you aren’t exiting immediately have your blinker on to the left indicating you are staying in the  circle; then flip to the right when you approach your exit,
  • if there are two lanes then the guy on the outer ring has the priority and if he is blocking you – well just take another spin around.  Don’t worry, you’ll make it out . . . in spite of the rumors!
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