Hebridean island gets first roundabout to give children a taste of outside world

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The Independent Online

The island of Tiree in the Inner Hebrides is to get its first roundabout; not to ease traffic flow but show the inhabitants what one looks like.

The island of Tiree in the Inner Hebrides is to get its first roundabout; not to ease traffic flow but show the inhabitants what one looks like.

Parents among Tiree's population of just 730 are worried their children's lack of experience will put them in danger when they leave the island, which is 11 miles long and five miles wide.

Islanders live a life virtually free from traffic on the quiet, single carriageway B-roads of Tiree. Now the grounds of the nursery will be transformed to include its own toddler-sized, tarmac strip boasting the island's only roundabout, traffic lights and zebra crossing.

Jessie Gray, 50, the deputy head of Tiree's combined secondary and primary school, which has 120 pupils, said: "Children do get to the mainland now a lot more than my generation did at the same age. This seemed like a great idea to start getting them used to the roads there."

A group of volunteers will also be brought in to help make mini-traffic lights and road signs. Those helpers include the island's telecom engineer John Gorman, 50, who helped start the ball rolling by winning a £500 BT award to help pay for the work.

Mr Gorman, who moved to Tiree from Glasgow eight years ago, said: "We will be able to teach them about two-way traffic. On the island you don't pass another car unless one or other vehicle is stopped in a passing place, or pockets as we call them. It must be very difficult for children to judge speeds when they see two-way traffic for the first time."

James Christie, 36, is a fireman at Tiree airport, and also an approved driving assessor for light good vehicles at the airstrip. He voluntarily helps teenagers on the island - which is a four-hour journey from Oban by ferry - to prepare for their driving test.

Mr Christie said: "It would be possible for a teenager to pass their test on the island only ever having experienced the single-lane roads here, then fly to London, hire a car and drive round a big city without ever having seen a roundabout or a set of traffic lights."

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