Middle-class rebellion

We live in the North Seattle neighbourhood. Ok, its not a neighbourhood – its a few sprawling hills of overpriced real-estate with organic vegetarian bakeries, mini-strips of chinese take-out, designer pizza, yoga-studios and dry-cleaners wafting that lovely soapy smell that will probably kill you. Its not all renovated – there are still lots of houses with collapsing fences and peeling paint, old junipers planted in the ’50’s; rows of identical ranch-style homes, retirement homes that always have the fire department carrying away bodies. We like it.

Anyway, as I walked home pushing the tractor-tricycle tonight it was particularly picaresque. The streets were gloomy and golden and I could see families in relief against the living room lights and flickering televisions. Umi was eating Japanese-style with her family sitting down at a low table, our neighbors carrying boxes into a car stuffed with – well – stuff, some teenagers hanging Halloween decorations in the front window. An older woman down the road gave us some seashells we admired (and I nearly stood on a dog poop as I walked closer to receive the gift).

And I didn’t even mind being almost run down by motorists going the wrong way around the roundabouts. I mean, what is it about roundabouts Seattle drivers don’t understand? Is it a form of middle-class rebellion, like “dammit, I will pay taxes and smile at the mailman but I will go whichever way I like around this circular impediment?”…

5 Comments so far

  1. none (unregistered) on October 14th, 2004 @ 9:16 am

    It’s not illegal to go the “wrong” way around traffic circles. They’re not actual roundabouts.


  2. Shannon (unregistered) on October 14th, 2004 @ 6:13 pm

    You live in Seattle, right?


  3. none (unregistered) on October 15th, 2004 @ 12:29 pm

    Yes, I do live in Seattle. I assumed you were talking about the concrete circles in many of the residential areas that are sometimes planted, sometimes filled with weeds. There has been a lot of discussion on this and I’ve done the research – if there is no other car in the intersection, the driver is allowed to go the short way around the circle. It’s in the driver’s manual.

    Now roundabouts are a whole ‘nother beast. We have not had many of these here in the NW until recently – I think we now have 2, which is why I assumed you were talking about the traffic circles. It would be suicide to attempt to go around one of those the wrong way.


  4. shannon (unregistered) on October 16th, 2004 @ 11:34 pm

    Oh, I’d love to hear where you found that reference – I couldn’t find it in the Drivers’s Guide and would be really interested. I recently did my drive test and was drilled by the instructor who insisted I would fail if I didn’t handle traffic circles “correctly”.


  5. none (unregistered) on October 17th, 2004 @ 9:54 am

    I was pretty sure I’d seen it in the Seattle Times recently, so I searched their archives. Here’s a quote from one hit:

    “Seattle Department of Transportation spokeswoman Liz Rankin says traffic circles should be treated as uncontrolled intersections. When two or more motorists approach the traffic circle, the driver on the right has the right-of-way.

    Those circles are designed to slow cars and create a safer environment for pedestrians as well as other vehicles. Most motorists round the circles to the right. But that’s not an absolute, Rankin says. Based on her department’s interpretation of the traffic code’s description of a left turn, she says it’s legal to take the short left around the circle



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