A recent discussion about the effectiveness of roundabouts here in the states lead to the intellectual discussion among a group of over worked and under paid colleagues around the concept of “sharing” verses taking turns which struck me as an interesting concept. As what is the difference as when you come up to a four way stop are you not taking turns? At first this was my position as the logic seemed to be there to support this, however after pondering this for a while it struck me that this in fact was not sharing after all and why do I say this?
Well let’s look at it this way, as when we approach the four way intersection, we “all” must stop then we must “all” take an independent step forward into the intersection. In essence, one at a time will pass through whereas in a roundabout all parties enter it simultaneously and take part “together” in the same action and therefore must dynamically interact. This is in direct opposition of the four-way stop which is “static” in nature requiring everyone to “stop” before taking action.
So when we dig deeper what do we find, you might be asking? The answer amazed me as it came down to one thing, and can you guess what it is, Ok do you give? While the answer is simple as its “trust” as stopping means “I don’t trust, you and you don’t trust me” so we all need to stop and take our individualized turn. Whereas in the “Roundy” we all must trust each other and our safety is dependent upon this implied “trust” we must extend as well as receive.
Looking at it this way, one has to wonder if this is the issue with the adoption of things like the roundabout in the states as we are founded (unlike most of the rest of the world) on individualism and things such as this violate our basic principles. This also drove me to consider this concept may be rooted in some ideologies of prior posts which we can use to better explain this.
As we’ve waxed in the past about the concept of “time”, we find the American culture is focused “mono-chromatically” in this space where as most of the Europeans fall into the “poly-chromatic” realm. Which is as the names imply as singular to plural relationship just as exist between the roundabout and four way stop if you will. As in the stopping scenario we are acting singularly, whereas in the “Roundy” we have to operate in a multiplicity (poly) which runs counter to our natural instincts of time. Thus, this makes it difficult for us to adapt quickly and therefore slows our adoption rate of the change if “adoption” happens at all given it lacks alignment with a deeply seed social norm….