I thank the lord that I have yet to encounter the mythical Magic Roundabout of Swindon, the star of today’s Wikiworm, my weekly trawl through the more unusual articles to be found on Wikipedia. Have any Dabblers had the misfortune to have tackled this monstrosity?
The Magic Roundabout in Swindon, England was constructed in 1972 and consists of five mini-roundabouts arranged around a sixth central, anti-clockwise roundabout. It is located near the County Ground, home of Swindon Town F.C. In 2009 it was voted the fourth scariest junction in Britain, in a poll by Britannia Rescue.
UK’s 10 scariest junctions (2009)Gravelly Hill (Spaghetti Junction), BirminghamM8 junctions through central GlasgowMarble Arch, LondonMagic Roundabout, Swindon, WiltshireHanger Lane Gyratory, west LondonM5/M6 intersection, BirminghamPiccadilly Circus, LondonFive Ways junction, BirminghamMagic Roundabout, Hemel Hempstead, HertfordshireKingston Bridge, Glasgow
Local and regular users are proficient at traversing the complex junction, which offers multiple paths between feeder roads. Virtually the same overall configuration has been in place for 40 years.
When the roundabout complex was first opened, the mini-roundabouts were not permanently marked out and could be reconfigured while the layout was fine tuned. A police officer was stationed at each mini roundabout during this pilot phase to oversee how drivers coped with the unique arrangement.
A calendar is produced each year by the UK Roundabout Appreciation Society, which often features the Magic Roundabout and other examples from Swindon and other British towns.
The official name of the roundabout used to be County Islands, but it was changed in the late 1980s to match its popular name. It inspired the song “English Roundabout”, a pop song by the Swindon band XTC, which was recorded for their 1982 album English Settlement.
In 2005, it was voted the worst roundabout in a survey by a UK insurance company. In September 2007, the Magic Roundabout was named as one of the World’s Worst Junctions by a UK motoring magazine. In December 2007, BBC News reported a survey identifying The Magic Roundabout as one of the “10 Scariest Junctions in the United Kingdom”; however, the roundabout provides a better throughput of traffic than other designs and has an excellent safety record, since traffic moves too slowly to do serious damage in the event of a collision.