The Wizard of Seven Dials

The Seven Dials roundabout, recently lit by a lovely Christmas tree is finally finished.
After months with drivers having to find workarounds and rat runs to avoid the chaos caused by a bus stop built on the exit of the roundabout, I concluded that even a baby only takes 9 months, and this thing is simply taking too long.

I think of traffic flow like water through pipes, and whilst other routes were available, none appeared to have been defined to direct and manage the volume of traffic being displaced. Add the numerous reports of uncaring construction staff, and phew, we find a community that is being delivered a new roundabout, but also a community that is not being managed in any way to receive this delivery.

So where do I stand on the Seven Dials roundabout?

I think successful traffic works these days are like all change that happens in life. That is to say, hard to palate at first, but it soon provides significantly successful benefits. All it takes for this to happen is a mind-set change, and good design facilitates this mind-set change. I can tell you, that this mind-set change has happened to me, and I now appreciate the design and its functionality, and the way it slows and forces traffic to be polite and mindful on entry and exit.

However, I also think that there is something missing from the Seven Dials roundabout. I think that perhaps there should be a right of way for pedestrians to cross the roundabout directly on foot, as well as use the zebra crossings. Why don’t we be market leaders and create something new, a way of traffic being an equal ‘user’ of a roundabout. After all, a person in a car is still a person.

So finally, I conclude a roundabout that cost too much, took too long to build, and had no proper traffic management constructed over the same time-frame as the growth of a baby, now stands like an empty pedestal.

Now, imagine the council’s next decision. Should there be a pedestal in the middle and should there be placed on it a statue of someone who was once valuable to Brighton, like Nelson watching over Trafalgar Square, or a Charlie Chaplin, soon to be returned?

Or, consider this. Consider a sales spot, a single car, or piece of art. A poster of a property for sale being displayed on this new pedestal that is Seven Dials. Consider whether this roundabout, although finished, is actually still unfinished.

Consider whether we should find the wizard who designed Seven Dials, and ask this wizard to magically design a way for Seven Dials roundabout to also pay for itself.

Ajit Chambers

[If you can think of a suitable addition to the Roundabout, write to – Ed]

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