Here it is from the air:
|Courtesy of Bing Maps. This design has similarities with the worst roundabout designs ever used in the Netherlands.|
Comparison with a Dutch roundabout
For a cyclist, the supposedly "continental" style "Magic Roundabout" of York looks nothing at all like a real roundabout as seen over here on "the continent" in the Netherlands. This second example is a typical Dutch roundabout, chosen simply because it's an example close to our home, but which is of the safest design used in the Netherlands. It should appear at a similar scale on your screen to that of the above example from York:
|Note that in Assen cyclists do not ride on the road around roundabouts, but have completely separate paths. Read more about this roundabout, an example of the safest design in the Netherlands.|
We ride this way regularly as it's part of the most direct route to the city centre (see the whole journey from which this is a part ). A video made when riding past this roundabout also looks nothing like the video from York:
Approaching and riding past this Dutch roundabout involves no conflict and no drama. No-one has concerns about riding here themselves, and no adult has concerns about their school age children cycling past this junction. This is just as well because many go past here in order to get to school. This type of infrastructure contributes to the high cycling rate of Assen, and as similar roundabouts are found right across the country, to the high cycling rate of the Netherlands as a whole. What's more, this is also extremely efficient for a cyclist to use. You never have to stop when riding in this direction, and rarely in the opposite direction. In my view, this is truly a "magic" roundabout because so far as cyclists are concerned, it's almost been made to vanish.
Guess which one won an award ?
|Caption is from the Transport Initiatives website. But|
this dangerous design should never have won an award.
The problem with things like the Magic Roundabout in York is that sometimes the hype gets out of control. It may well be a safer design than the previous junction, but it's a missed opportunity. It could have been so much better, but as so much hype and praise is heaped upon the roundabout it's difficult for other people to notice this. The hype is still believed. Cycling England referred to it quite positively, there have been proposals to copy the "Magic Roundabout" elsewhere in the UK, similar ideas are published as guidance in Australia. The BBC recently said that the "British roundabout" might be conquering the US, and a much hyped example like this could well be held up as a better than average design to copy.
It is often difficult to counter the opinion of an "expert". However, it seems quite clear that in reality the Magic Roundabout shouldn't be an example which is copied. Planners who want to do the right thing for cyclists would be better advised to look at Dutch examples instead.
The Assen roundabout used as an example in this blog post is not unusual. Another post details every roundabout in Assen. Every single one is better designed than the "Magic Roundabout"