Image by mrjoro
When I was first planning the trip to Waterloo, I figured it was a suburb of Toronto and figured I’d take public transit to get around. It turned out it was an hour away and since I was going to be there for a week I decided to rent a car.
It was my first time driving in a foreign country (the only time I’ve been out of the country since getting my driver’s license was when we took a bus across the border to Tijuana), so I prepared. I checked with my insurance company and got a special Canadian form I needed to carry with me, and I made sure Canadian rentals were automatics. Then I studied the maps to make sure I knew how to get to the hotel and work.
When I saw the map near work, I was a little bit nervous… there, super prominent, was a <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=hagey+blvd,+waterloo,+ontario&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=56.200193,79.013672&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Hagey+Blvd,+Waterloo,+Waterloo+Regional+Municipality,+Ontario,+Canada&ll=43.479386,-80.549587&spn=0.006368,0.009645&t=h&z=17" rel="nofollow">roundabout</a>! I’d only driven in a few, and those have often been poorly designed. (My day-to-day experience with a roundabout was the one at <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=massachusetts+2+and+bu+bridge,+cambridge,+ma&sll=42.354239,-71.110774&sspn=0.001621,0.002411&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Massachusetts+2+&ll=42.353537,-71.110473&spn=0.003243,0.004823&t=h&z=18" rel="nofollow">Mem Drive and the BU Bridge</a>, but someone else was almost always driving.) Driving a rental in a foreign country through a roundabout didn’t seem that appealing.
So on the first morning Todd and I headed out and came in the back way (since construction was going to block the normal entrance). I approached the circle with trepidation–and it turned out to be so incredibly easy and stress free I wanted to do it again. Fortunately there was another, smaller one that I hadn’t even noticed when looking at the map–and we needed to use it to make a U-turn.
Too bad <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAgX6qlJEMc&feature=player_embedded" rel="nofollow">Big Ben</a> was no where to be seen.
So now I’m kind of sold on them. As long as they’re big, have great sightlines and there’s very little traffic on them.