Our subject for the day is roundabouts.

The recent flurry about changing intersections to roundabouts and all the anxiety connected with them recalls our experiences with them in Europe.

We were stationed in France from May 1955 to June 1959 and experienced the thrill of the movement.

In April 1958, my mother came to visit. We picked her up at Orly Field outside of Paris. We had to return to base (on purpose) through Paris. We toured a bit and drove down the Champs Elyssee toward the Toille and the Arch de Triomphe.

Now comes the fun part. Mom in the backseat, Stella and me up front in our new 1957 Opel station wagon. Quite a comfy little vehicle.

We entered the roundabout, ‘round the Arch and circled the structure several times so that Mom could view the magnificent structure. If you’ve ever seen it up close, you’d agree with me. It is truly a magnificent piece of art.

On with the story of the roundabouts: Mom said, “Oh, Pete” (she called me that), how do you get out of this traffic?”

“Oh Mom, that’s the easy part.” We were on the inside of five lanes, closest to the Arch. “You see all of these cars? And those fie avenues emanating from the outer edge of the circle?”


“Well, from here you pick your spoke, close your eyes, and turn right.”

Mom’s horrified, yet excited expression was priceless.

However, this is not the proper method of exit from a roundabout. Follow the instructions! A two-way or three-way around is an experience of its own. Be very careful. Keep moving. Don’t crawl. Caution is the word. These words are from over 60 years experience with roundabouts. I am no expert in this field.

Remember, driving can be fun. Enjoy the ride. And there’s always a way out of that circle.

Phil Pratt

Lake Placid


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