Roundabouts around the world

While the name roundabout might imply they’re round, they seem to come in all shapes and sizes. Here are five from across the globe.

Adelaide’s first roundabout was installed in 1952 at the Portrush and Greenhill intersection. Understandably, it caused confusion. These days, we’ve nearly got the hang of them, but the Brittania and Blackwood junctions still leave some of us white-knuckled.

The concept of the roundabout as a traffic control device has been attributed to British engineer Michael Holroyd Smith, who presented the idea to the London County Council in 1897. Of course, the vehicles of the day were mostly hitched to horses.

Since then, the world has become awash with motorised vehicles, and roundabouts of all shapes, sizes and designs are commonplace.

1. Magic mayhem

You might visit the south-west English city of Swindon to watch struggling fourth-division soccer team Swindon Town avoid relegation. Or maybe you’ve been attracted by the town’s rich railway heritage. Or more likely you’ve just popped by to see the Magic Roundabout.

What makes it magic? Not only are there seven roundabouts in one, but traffic can travel through this civil engineering marvel in several directions.

Magic roundabout
It’s like magic. Image: Alamy

Although this suggests a contradiction to the one-direction roundabout principle, it’s role as a multi-roundabout lets it off the hook.

There are five entry and exit points, and motorists can choose the shortest route between them by negotiating two large roundabouts and five mini ones.

Get it right, and you’re back at your B&B by dinner. Get it wrong, and you might end up in Scotland.

2. Mega-Malaysian

Taking out the gong for world’s largest roundabout is Persiaran Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Road in Putrajaya, Malaysia. The road forms a 3.4km ellipse around a five-star hotel, a monument to the birth of Putrajaya, and a royal palace known as Istana Melawati.

There are 15 entry/exit points, including three inside the roundabout.

Putrajaya roundabout
Guinness world record holder. Image: Getty

Some roundabout aficionados suggest that Queen’s Park Savannah in Trinidad and Tobago’s capital Port of Spain is the champion. But given the Caribbean roundabout is not remotely circular and includes a few right-angled bends, the Putrajaya crowd may well mock this notion.

3. Square of the Star

No credible roundabout list – or this one – would omit Place de l’Étoile. In English its name translates to Square of the Star, and is so called because of its shape.

Place de l'Étoile.
Starring Paris. Image: Getty

This multi-lane monster with no line markings is fed by Paris’ 12 grand avenues, including the fashion label-soaked Champs-Elysées. The centrepiece is the Arc de Triomphe – Napolean’s showy monument to war victories.

Adding an extra degree of difficulty to an already nightmarish driving scenario, motorists entering Place de l’Étoile have priority. Those already on the roundabout must give way.

For a front row view, grab a croissant, take a seat on a park bench, and be mesmerised by the locals’ driving skills.

4. Capital circles

Some travellers consider Canberra to be the roundabout capital of Australia, and they’re not just referring to the way Federal pollies get to the point.

Although the city is said to have the highest proportion of roundabouts of all the capitals, it’s not that far ahead of the next contender, Melbourne.

Canberra centre
City of circles. Image: Getty

It’s probably more obvious in Canberra because the road system downtown, where many of the attractions are located, seems to be mainly giant circles.

There’s State Circle, Tasmania Circle, Vernon Circle, and so on.

Locals know their way around, but sometimes visitors can feel a little like Clark Griswold in European Vacation.

5. Floating faucet

There’s nothing particularly special about the roundabout at the intersection of Zuiderring and Zillebekevoetweg in Ypres (Leper), Belgium.

Zuiderring links the town centre to Bellewaerde theme park, while Zillebekevoetweg heads to the Picanol Group HQ – should you need an industrial weaving machine.

But for some reason, there’s a giant tap in the middle of the junction. In a feat of artistic trickery, the tap appears to be continuously gushing water while suspended in mid-air.

Kudos to the Belgians for livening up a dreary intersection.

Floating tap, belgium
Tapping into creativity. Image: Alamy

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