Monday, May 18, 2015

Dear Franklin Drivers -- Let's Talk

Ok, guys -- we need to have a chat.  A little heart to heart.  Some of the citizens of our fair town seem to be under the impression that a deadly menace lurks at our city center.  A whirling vortex of death with all the worst traits of a cyclone, a black hole, and a roller derby.

That menace is:  The Downtown Franklin Traffic circle.

I am here to help you conquer your fears and tame the wild beast.

I hope that by de-mystifying the traffic circle for you, I can help you come to understand that the Franklin traffic circle is not a power mad traffic flow pattern bent on your destruction.  Rather, it is a quite helpful device that helps keep city street traffic flowing in all directions very efficiently.  The great thing about traffic circles is that everyone can keep moving.  I actually had a buddy a few years ago who got a PhD in traffic control patterns (yes, they exist) and he LOVED traffic circles.  He considered getting a tattoo of a traffic circle... ok... not really.  But he was convinced they were fantastic and he had lots of data to back it up.

Of course, we can also look across the pond to Europe and see that traffic circles are in widespread use there with great success.  If the Italians can handle it, then we should be able to as well.  The English have them and they drive on the wrong side of the road!!

Ok - so, lets get down to the meat of this post.  How exactly is a traffic circle supposed to work?

The basic rule is this: anyone who is merging onto or out of the traffic circle should be in the outside lane.  Everyone else should be in the interior lane(s).

The point of this one rule is that the slower traffic is given the outside lane to do their slow stuff and the traffic that needs to keep moving is allowed to do so.  The behavior that I have observed in Franklin is that people seem terrified of the interior lane.  They hop into the circle and just stay in the outside lane all the way around.  It's like they think the interior lane is lava.  This is a mistake!  When you do this, you lose the benefit of the traffic circle.

Here, check out this sign from the crazy Europeans:

Pretty clear, right?

And once you get in that interior lane, you can continue all the way around the traffic circle until you get to your "exit", then you hop over into the slower outer lane and exit the circle.  Great, right?!

Want to hear something even crazier?  There are places where the traffic circles are mutli-lane!!  But, fret not... they still work!  Here's a diagram of how one of those would flow:
Making a right turn

Going straight through a roundabout

Making a left turn

Making a U turn

So, the next time you are driving through downtown Franklin and encounter some traffic circle anxiety - RELAX!  The traffic circle is your friend!  He's there to help you keep moving - just remember that slow traffic goes outside, fast traffic goes inside and you'll be fine.

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