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Swirling, swirling, swirling on the Magic Roundabout,

Swirling, swirling, swirling on the Magic Roundabout, a kooky traffic circle in the UK.

Reader comments

Tom HeadMar 02, 2004 at 10:57AM

I'm not sure why this has suddenly garnered so much attention. After all, there's been a "magic roundabout" at Hemel Hempstead (UK) for years now.

spygeekMar 02, 2004 at 11:12AM

In NJ where I grew up, they've been ripping up the traffic circles (roundabouts) in favor of standard traffic-light intersections, which I find disappointing because circles can work well if everyone knows what to do. It's nice to know that there are places where drivers can actually navigate these things properly.

That said, the idea of driving one of those magic roundabouts scares the hell out of me.

SimonMar 02, 2004 at 11:55AM

We have one of these where I live too. It's between Benfleet and Canvey Island in Essex. I think magic roundabouts are a peculiarly British idea and, yes, they are hard to navigate... I wrote off my first car going round ours a couple of years ago.

Stefan JonesMar 02, 2004 at 12:13PM

I'm surprised that the middle of the thing isn't full of abandoned cars that ran out of petrol because the terrified drivers couldn't figure out how to exit.

AliciaMar 02, 2004 at 12:38PM

I had to navigate that intersection on my first trip to England. It was completely confusing the first time, but seemed simple and obvious after that.

Peter Doctors has dedicated himself to bringing roundabouts to the USA. The Milpas/101 roundabout he mentions has been up and working beautifully for a few years now.

BrentMar 02, 2004 at 4:48PM

That Swindon lot are a load of rubbish. "Oh, our roundabout is magic. Oh, you haven't got one of these in Slough, now do you?" No, we... Real. We prefer our roundabouts real, not magic. So...

AdamMar 02, 2004 at 5:27PM

Here in Massachusetts we are the only ones who call these things Rotaries. Of course they work wonders if people would understand how to use them. The main problem is they are based on yielding to traffic within the rotary before you enter and people can't even handle yielding on a highway onramp.

EliotMar 02, 2004 at 5:42PM

In NH, they're "traffic circles."

As I remember, you Massholes (nothing personal) had the opposite right-of-way rule up until sometime in the nineties - that is to say, people ENTERING the rotary had it. Insanity.

Christie Todd WhitmanMar 02, 2004 at 6:27PM

In New Jersey, the rule is that you yield to traffic in the rotary unless you are coming off a highway, in which case the rotary yields to you.

Jeez...I can't understand why these things don't take off!

andrewMar 02, 2004 at 6:29PM

they started several trail perdiods of traffic circles at various intersections in Sand Francisco last year. for the most part, people don't use them correctly, and the crosswalks, which have not been repainted to accomodate the new configuration, now place pedestrians in the line of fire of these circling cars.

adrianMar 02, 2004 at 8:55PM

UK rules: yeild to traffic from the right, be it on the roundabout or about to enter from the road to your right - it works fine. It would probably work great in the us if it was reversed. My experience of driving in the us suggests such niceties as looking and/or signalling before changing lanes or turning are optional - might explain why roundabouts haven't taken off. But then again I do live in Mass.

Jeanne PickeringMar 03, 2004 at 12:31AM

As an American living in England, it took me a few terrifying trips of going round and round and round the roundabouts in Surrey - afraid to move over to the right to get off. After two years, I could negotiate them without a second thought. Then I moved to Massachusetts where I had to relearn it all because we go around anti-clockwise here all the time. I'm still terrified since rotaries are basically free-for-alls here. But they beat the intersections where turning left in front of oncoming cars is standard operating procedure.

LeifMar 03, 2004 at 1:35AM

There's one in Waco, Texas, too, believe it or not, and you can even buy T-shirts in town that say, "I survived the circle!" Couldn't find an online picture, though.

deniseMar 03, 2004 at 6:51PM

after a traumatic experience driving in london and a subsequent road trip through england, just looking at that thing sends me spiraling into anxiety and panic.

MeriMar 04, 2004 at 5:01AM

Even in the UK lots of people still can't do the massive ones ... apparently in Swindon it's standard practice if the examiner wants a reason to fail you on your driving test, they make you go around the magic roundabout.

CHMar 05, 2004 at 4:37PM

I had to go to swindon the on thursday: its one of the few places where all the roundabouts have names (and there are seemingly hundreds of them): which makes directions quite easy. Survived the magic roundabout; the locals tip is to go straight through the centre of the magic roundabout avoiding all the mini roundabouts which are too small to worry about !!!

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.