Testable Hypotheses

If I am driving or biking to work, I pretty much have to go through a traffic circle a few blocks north of the Watergate.  I am a big fan of roundabouts, and wish that America used more of them in place of intersections or interchanges.  Unfortunately, because we don't have a lot of roundabouts here, drivers don't quite get them, and they tend to behave very aggressively--particularly, for some reason, those coming off of K Street. 

DC has therefore placed traffic signs at each entry point to reinforce the obvious:  "Yield to traffic in circle".  This is not, however, what most drivers do.  What they do is play chicken with the cars in the circle-and particularly when I've been biking, they usually win.  It's incredibly dangerous, and unsurprisingly, I travel past traffic accidents in the circle fairly frequently.

My morning commute is thus accompanied by a lot of frustrated muttering.  Do they not see the signs?  Do they not understand what "Yield to traffic in circle" means?

I think this morning I got my answer.  There was heavy traffic coming off of Pennsylvania and K Street, and yet the turn lane onto New Hampshire was miraculously free of cars, the way it is supposed to be, instead of fleetingly populated by a half a dozen daredevils unwilling to wait for a break in the traffic.  Why?  I presume because the third car waiting to come off of Pennsylvania avenue was a cop.

They know what they're supposed to do.  They'd just rather risk their lives . . . and mine.

Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Best 71-Second Animation You'll Watch Today

A rock monster tries to save a village from destruction.

Video

The Case for Napping at Work

Most Americans don't get enough sleep. More and more employers are trying to help address that.

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

Video

Stunning GoPro Footage of a Wildfire

In the field with America’s elite Native American firefighting crew

Just In