Teeter Tottering in Traffic

Ride No. 170 takes place on North Maple roundabout
The southern-most roundabout on North Maple Road was the site of teeter totter ride number 170.

The southern-most roundabout on North Maple Road was the site of teeter totter ride No. 170.

[Editor's Note: HD, a.k.a. Dave Askins, editor of The Ann Arbor Chronicle, is also publisher of an online series of interviews on a teeter totter. Introductions to new Teeter Talks appear on The Chronicle.]

I first met Zak Branigan outside the UPS store at Westgate shopping center, when I was dropping off a load in the course of my bicycle delivery duties. He’d recognized me by the sign on my bicycle trailer for ArborTeas, which is run by a friend of his, and alum of the totter, Jeremy Lopatin.

Subsequent email correspondence to recruit Zak to ride the totter led him to suggest the middle of a roundabout as a place to teeter totter. With three such junctions recently constructed on North Maple Road, and others planned at Nixon and Plymouth as well as on Geddes and US-23, Ann Arbor area drivers are getting more familiar with these road intersections where traffic flows one-way around a central island. I figured Zak was kidding. He wasn’t. It turns out he’s something of a roundabout geek.

It’s one of the briefer Talks on the Totter, but we were out in the middle of the roundabout for long enough to see people we knew drive by. Zachary Branigan’s Talk also touches briefly on his work with Habitat for Humanity.


  1. By KGS
    February 17, 2009 at 2:24 pm | permalink

    Awesome! I think every roundabout should have something in the middle. Love the idea of the teeter totter there, although it’s probably pretty unsafe…

  2. By hospadaruk
    February 19, 2009 at 1:10 pm | permalink

    I had know idea what this article was about until I, saw a better picture. There really is a teeter Totter involved here… That’s – different!

  3. February 20, 2009 at 11:36 pm | permalink

    As a local middle schooler (and I know I’m up late… it’s the weekend) I am concerned about how young and senior pedestrians will safely cross Nixon and Huron Pkwy, without worrying about the traffic? How will I manage going on bicycle to Blockbuster and the new library — perhaps if the teeter–totter is made large enough, it can get me over the roundabout.

  4. By Joel Mason Batterman
    February 21, 2009 at 12:11 am | permalink

    I’m concerned about safety too. This intersection sees a good amount of foot traffic, and it has always been difficult to cross; there are two areas which ought to have been raised crossing islands, but are simply outlined in white paint. I think I may have seen plans for this roundabout containing the pedestrian median islands Zak mentions at one point; however, there is still the inconvenience to pedestrians of having to walk a greater distance, and roundabouts also are not generally better for bikes, so far as I’ve read. Can Zak or anyone else at the city tell us more about their approach to this?

  5. By Steve Bean
    February 21, 2009 at 3:19 am | permalink

    The county road commission web site (www.wcroads.org) has lots of info on roundabouts, including videos of pedestrian crossings.

  6. By KT
    February 25, 2009 at 8:32 pm | permalink

    i find roundabouts confusing and a little scary. so does my friend bob. he was in london several years ago trying to navigate a very confusing roundabout. he was pulled over and issued a ticket for “mayhem” !