Roundabouts have not really caught on in the United States, although that is slowly starting to change. It’s a shame, really. They are safer, relieve traffic congestion and, most importantly, are a lot of fun when empty. Britain has long been a leader in sending cars around in circles and one of their designs, dubbed the “magic roundabout” takes things to an utterly confusing level.
99 Percent Invisible explains the whole concept of ring junctions (Another name for the magic roundabout), but also has a gif that makes our head hurt:
The idea is that the inner and outer rings run in opposite directions, which makes each interchange its own roundabout.
Even the sign for the intersection looks like a perfect-storm weather map instead of an efficient way to travel:
Built in 1972, the complex intersection in Swindon, England looks terrifying, but it doesn’t have to be:
The video tries to make sense of the chaos using the concept of emergent behaviors. Simply put, each driver only has to follow a few simple rules to allow the complex system to do its magic of easing traffic congestion and freezing out of town drivers in terror:
- Avoid collisions
- Follow the lines and arrows
- Give way to people already on the roundabout
- Continue toward your destination
Sounds simple, but it is probably best left to the Brits for now. One step at a time.