Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Magic Roundabout

The Magic Roundabout in Swindon, England was constructed in 1972 and consists of five mini-roundabouts arranged in a circle. It is located near the County Ground, home of Swindon Town F.C. Its name comes from the popular children's television series The Magic Roundabout. In 2009 it was voted the fourth scariest junction in Britain.

It may be saying something negative about the town if its most notable feature is a traffic junction, but the Magic Roundabout is truly a wonder of the world. And by “wonder” I don’t mean “wow” I mean “I wonder why they built such a stupidly complex junction”.

You see, the Magic Roundabout is in fact 5 small roundabouts surrounding one large centre roundabout. For the benefit of our non-British visitors I shall do my very best to explain.

In the U.K. we drive on the left hand side of the road, so on approach to a roundabout you give way to traffic coming from the right hand side. You then go clockwise around the roundabout, exiting where you see fit.

The Magic Roundabout complicates matters in that the moment you leave one roundabout you are at the junction of another. So, by aiming right on each roundabout you would actually traverse the central roundabout in an anti-clockwise manner. At least that’s the idea.

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