A Conversation for Roundabouts
Peta Started conversation Jul 12, 1999
Have to mention the fun of the two way 'magic' roundabout in Hemel Hempstead, Herts. You can turn left or right, it has two way traffic all the way around. When it opened, about 15 years ago there was a policeman standing on all of the mini roundabouts that surround it, directing traffic. It caused chaos for a couple of weeks. Will have to draw a pic of how it works....
Sean Posted Jul 12, 1999
Merkin Posted Jul 12, 1999
They did the same to the roundabout outside Hatton Cross tube station (near Heathrow) about a year ago. Terrifying, but does allow for some rahter amusing auto-ballets.
Red Posted Jul 13, 1999
there is a similar one on the outskirts of Clacton!
Merkin Posted Jul 13, 1999
Some mad evil genius is obviously infiltrating planning departments up and down the country, encouraging the proliferation of these mind-altering devices.
Cheerful Dragon Posted Jul 13, 1999
The first roundabout of this kind I encountered was in Swindon. I understand that the proper name for it is the '5 star roundabout', presumably because it consists of 5 mini-roundabouts in a star formation. Locally it is known as the magic roundabout - can't think why though.
The Dancing Tree Posted Jul 13, 1999
Because it's an act of magic if you make it across alive, perhaps?
Peta Posted Jul 13, 1999
I didn't know you lived down that way too. Did I go to school with you too?
Sean Posted Jul 13, 1999
Peta Posted Jul 13, 1999
What so you co-incidentally live in same place as Jim? Or maybe in village outside? Jim says he doesn't visit pubs - can I recommend the Swan in Pimlico (between leverstock green and kings langley) to you as great place to eat?
Qui-Gon Whisky Posted Jul 13, 1999
It is in fact now signposted as the 'magic roundabout'. And it's bloody terrifying... the only way across is to be driving a 4x4 whilst closing your eyes & thinking of England...
Leafy Posted Jul 14, 1999
Seems to me that most 4x4 drivers bought them so they can drive over roundabouts!
(I do own a 4x4 but it is for work purposes and I never drive over roundabouts!!)
Editor #6 of the Project Galactic Guide Posted Jul 22, 1999
I wrote an article about the magic roundabout in Hemel Hempstead some years ago. It is currently available from
I think I also did a picture too, but I have probably lost it
GAME=OVER Posted Nov 10, 1999
There's one near Canvey Island.
I saw a traffic jam on it a few years ago, when it was covered in a thick blanket of snow. No one knew where they were going.
Funniest thing in the world!
Olli Posted Nov 15, 1999
About a year ago the "Herald Gazzete" featured a story on how an OAP became confused on Hemel's magic roundabout; She drove round and round for around 3 hours before she was "rescued" by the police
Nonsian Esoll Posted Mar 26, 2000
Ah but not so unlikely after all...
Anyhow, back to the point in question. There is another magic roundabout in High Wycombe, at the bottom of Marlow Hill. I remember what it was like before it was put in. It used to be a real dice with death getting on to the big fast-moving roundabout. Making it 'magic' meant a series of much easier merges at lower speeds but without a consequent reduction in overall flow. Seemed pretty useful to me.
In Massachusetts USA they have 'Rotaries' which are like roundabouts in the UK only of course they go the other way. The other difference is nobody seems very sure how to use them, so people on the rotary tend to stop if they feel less than confident about traffic from a more dominant direction giving them the right of way. Quite unsettling.
Bladerunner Posted Jul 15, 2000
OK, Im British..... I've driven around the Magic Roundabout in Hemel Hempstead, I've navigated the smaller, but similar one in Swindon, Wiltshire. I took my driving test in Stevenage, Hertfordshire which is known locally as Roundabout City for its abundance of these and total lack of traffic lights. None of these prepared me for the insanity called a Rotary in Boston, Massachussets.
The Maine Drivers Guide mentions Rotaries. It accepts they exist. It talks about them in the same way that most dictionaries talk about pornography. It flippantly quips that you'll probably never meet one. Do they think people in Maine will never drive I-95 to Boston?
Rotaries are like the large island-roundabouts we see in the UK. The thing is, its seems as if the Massachussets Drivers Guide ALSO thinks people will never meet one because the drivers who tackle these things have no clue how to navigate one! There are no defined lanes, just one wide speedway track. Everyone cuts in, cuts out, stops, toots their horn, waves their fists and continues. It's like Place de la Concorde in miniature
To make it more interesting, the Boston authorities are digging up the city in what's called The Big Dig (they are putting the highways and main roads into tunnels to cut down the surface traffic). This means that there are more diversions than you can imagine. Try getting from Logan Airport to Newburyport and I-95 North on two different days and you'll see two different parts of the state.
Oh I almost forgot: there are Rotaries with roads going through them as well...the main road cuts through the middle and the subsidary traffic goes around it on a rotary....scary!
Cheerful Dragon Posted Jul 15, 2000
They have something like that north of Nottingham. If you're driving into Nottingham along the A52 from junction 25 of the M1, you encounter a 'sort of' roundabout outside Nottingham. (It's the second one you come to.) Traffic on the A52 into Nottingham goes through the roundabout, everything else goes round the outside. That includes traffic going from Nottingham on the A52 towards the M1. In order to keep the traffic flowing smoothly they've installed traffic lights at various points. If it wasn't for the number of roads merging at this point (at least 5 as far as I can remember) I'd wonder why they didn't use traffic lights and have done with it!
Key: Complain about this post
- 1: Peta (Jul 12, 1999)
- 2: Sean (Jul 12, 1999)
- 3: Merkin (Jul 12, 1999)
- 4: Red (Jul 13, 1999)
- 5: Merkin (Jul 13, 1999)
- 6: Cheerful Dragon (Jul 13, 1999)
- 7: The Dancing Tree (Jul 13, 1999)
- 8: Peta (Jul 13, 1999)
- 9: Sean (Jul 13, 1999)
- 10: Peta (Jul 13, 1999)
- 11: Qui-Gon Whisky (Jul 13, 1999)
- 12: Leafy (Jul 14, 1999)
- 13: Editor #6 of the Project Galactic Guide (Jul 22, 1999)
- 14: Peta (Jul 22, 1999)
- 15: GAME=OVER (Nov 10, 1999)
- 16: Olli (Nov 15, 1999)
- 17: Nonsian Esoll (Mar 26, 2000)
- 18: Bladerunner (Jul 15, 2000)
- 19: Cheerful Dragon (Jul 15, 2000)