A Conversation for The Hanger Lane Gyratory System

Magic Roundabouts

Post 1

From Distant Shores

All the traffic lights, overhead signs and white lines have taken all the fun out of The Gyratory.

The magic roundabouts in Hemel Hemstead and Swindon (if it's still there) provide fully unprotected fun and a rubric's cube quality puzzle to the uninitiated.

Happy Motoring

From Distant Shores

Magic Roundabouts

Post 2


The magic roundabout was alive and well in swindon when I did my driving test round it a few years back!
The company I worked for at the time did have a set of computers named after the characters as well smiley - smiley

Magic Roundabouts

Post 3


The one in Hemel is still there too. (And there's one in High Wycombe which always seems to get overlooked, possibly because there's slight separation between each roundabout - you get about 5m of road between each one, rather than having the exit of one becoming the entrance to another as it is in Hemel.)

Once in Hemel Hempstead they resurfaced the magic roundabout, and it was about a day before they got around to putting the road markings back on. In the meantime they left it open with the same priority rules in place! This was fine for the locals, but I pity the poor souls from further afield who would have been confronted with an apparently normal roundabout with the traffic calmly going both ways...

Magic Roundabouts

Post 4


Also worth a try is the Sun and Sands roundabout in SE London...
It is located above the A2 which at this point becomes the Blackwall Tunnel Approach Road (me thinks) and actually gives the A2 a new twist joining it with the Shooters Hill Road. It's main purpose though seems to be to confuse the hell out of any foreigners approaching London for the first time after arriving in Dover.

Magic Roundabouts

Post 5


sounds like a perfectly reasonable goal to me ~grin~

Magic Roundabouts

Post 6

From Distant Shores

If my memory serves me correctly the magic roundabout in Hemel is almost perfectly symmetrical. If you are heading straight on it doesn't matter whether you choose to go left or right, its still the same number of mini-roundabouts to negotiate. True equality. (Whereas the one in High Wycombe has a definite "correct" route which is signposted.)

The Hemel roundabout is a true momument to British 1960's town planning. Long may it last. It was probably designed by the person who will come to be regarded as the Capability Brown of the period some time during the next century.

On the other hand, the one in Swindon must have been designed by a genuine sadist. A few blobs of white paint on a huge circle of tarmac. No signs to remind you to which way to go or even to give way.
I'm glad I wasn't driving the few times I encountered it.


From Distant Shores

Magic Roundabouts

Post 7


That's basically true, except you hardly ever end up going straight over. (At least I lived in the area for a long time and drove over it regularly for journeys to lots of different destinations, and don't recall often having a dilemma as to which of the two equally valid paths I should choose.)

I believe there's one mini-roundabout on it whose corresponding exit is more or less unused now too.

Magic Roundabouts

Post 8


I can confirm the continued existance of the Swindon roundabout. It's worth taking the detour just to see the sheer blind panic on the faces of motorists; and it is especially funny at about 4.45pm on Saturdays, what with it being right next to the football ground.

Magic Roundabouts

Post 9


Hemel and Swindon certainly must rate in anybody's "Top Ten" nightmare roundabouts but what about the infamous Round n'round the mulberry bush?

Takes hours!!

Magic Roundabouts

Post 10


I can remember being driven across the one in swindon by a friend from out of town. He just put his foot down and went for the exit he wanted smiley - bigeyes I just shut my eyes and hoped there was nothing else coming which there was't thankfully.

Magic Roundabouts

Post 11

Researcher 162482

Long time after you guys wrote this, but I've only just joined!
I can confirm that the route is almost symmetrical, although 80% of people are psychologically used to going around clockwise, so if you go anti-clockwise (around the whole thing, not each roundabout!)
it is, in reality quicker because most of the traffic goes the other way!


Magic Roundabouts

Post 12


I have only once attempted the Magic Roundabout in Swindon, got completely stuck in the middle and vowed never to go there again!
However, the set of five mini-roundabouts that make up High Wycombe's Magic Roundabout are a lot easier to negotiate. I've driven that one many times in cars, lorries and buses, and found that the bigger the vehicle, the easier it becomes! smiley - smiley

Magic Roundabouts

Post 13

Red Sapphire

I was there when they first opened the Hemel Hempstead version. Three sets of traffic cops in cars spent the first week just driving round it to show people how it worked!

Magic Roundabouts

Post 14


from a fading memory bank -
The magic roundabout in Hemel Hempstead started life a long time ago ( more than 25 years) as a humungous normal roundabout. This was also when traffic was allowed to enter the main shopping street thats now closed. It was a nightmare of truly epic proportions with 3 roads with 3 lanes in each direction, plus 2 (or 3) 'minor' roads with normal dimensions. I believe that for a while, traffic lights were imposed on the hapless motorists to try and reduce the mayhem, but that, if anything, compounded the problem, as traffic lights on roundabouts was a wholly newfangled idea that the motoring public had not come to grips with yet.

The town, um, well, for lack of a better word, though by no means accurate, 'planners', then put the 6 (now 5) mini-'bouts in place.

It does help to go around this 'bout the 'wrong' way, particularly if it is congested - even if your outlet is 'closer' the normal way.


Magic Roundabouts

Post 15


In response to the original posting, I would say that he who is bored with the Hanger Lane Gyratory system is bored with life. If you want to liven it up a bit, try approaching the system from Twyford Abbey Road with a view to exiting via the A4005 toward Alperton. This entrance does not have the benefit of its own traffic lights, so you have to wait for the brief gap between traffic streams when the previous set of lights changes, then accelerate hard across six lanes or more (I'll count them next time) to reach the lane nearest the centre.

Another good way is on a bicycle late at night, when traffic is light. This may sound dangerous but, by keeping a judicious eye out for gaps in traffic entering the system, you can ignore the red lights on the system and sweep majestically through between stationary cars, beating all comers to the exit. Quite exhilarating.

For those in search of quiet reflection, the pedestrianised area in the centre of the roundabout is an oasis of calm, with neatly trimmed grassy banks, trees, and lovely daffodils at this time of year.

Magic Roundabouts

Post 16


The Sun in the Sands roundabout is probably best called a "squareabout" theres nothing round about it!!

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