Alana Raines has a project that goes along with Jeff's. She has explored
the question of driving and traffic management on French highways. As
you may or may not know, the French and all continental Europeans drive on the
right side of the road, just as in the US. She says that this was not
always consistent across the continent, but that Napoleon established this
practice for horse-drawn vehicles wherever he went in the early 1800's.
One thing an American notices in France is the omni-present "rond-point" or
"round-about". Alana says this idea actually originated in New York in
1903. It came to Paris in 1906 with the Étoile around the Arc of
Triumph. Since then over 15,000 round-abouts have been built in France.
Alana says that in a country with dense traffic, the round-about is 50% more
efficient than the stop sign or red light. I might add that one item in
the news this week is the connection that is about to be made to a new stretch
of four-lane highway that is about to be finished. By mid-July there
will be no more stops or red lights between Paris and Les Sables d'Olonne.