Roundabouts are considered a safe and cheap alternative to intersections. They prevent traffic jams and in most cases get by without traffic lights. And yet they are much more than that. Their special location, their sheer size or the circular area in the middle serve as inspiration for transport planners, artists and even politics around the world. They are staged like hardly any other traffic structure. In recognition of creativity and diversity, SEAT has put together a selection of the world's most unusual roundabouts and tells their stories.
The greatest: Persiaran Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah (Putrajaya, Malaysia)
Still quite new and perhaps also given the longest name, the Persiaran Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah in Malaysia is the largest roundabout in the world. The 3,5 kilometer long circuit covers an area of almost 839.000 square meters, i.e. around 117 soccer fields - enough space for a luxury hotel, a park and a royal residence. The city of Putrajaya is located a few kilometers south of the capital and metropolis of Kuala Lumpur, was designed on the drawing board and is only 26 years old. The reason for their construction was the desire to relocate the seat of government from the overcrowded capital. The roundabout is named after Salahuddin Abdul Aziz, the former sultan of the state of Selangor and later King of Malaysia.
The oldest: Brautwiesenplatz (Görlitz, Germany)
After its renovation and opening for road traffic in 1899, Brautwiesenplatz in the western part of the Saxon city is considered the first modern roundabout for motorized traffic in the world - that's definitely what the people of Görlitz say. The tram tracks cut through the square for a few decades, and since 1986 there has only been one circular lane with a total of six entrances and exits. Two of them belong to the north / south running B99, which connects Görlitz with Zittau and is 36 kilometers long.
The most complicated: The "Magic Roundabout" in Swindon (England)
Five small roundabouts with clockwise traffic, which are arranged around a large roundabout that sends the vehicles on in the opposite direction - you have to come to that first. If you want to use the “Magic Roundabout” in Swindon, England for the first time, you should work out the planned route in your head beforehand. When the building was opened in 1972, police officers were initially standing on the five islands of the small roundabouts to help confused road users out of the jumble. But ultimately it does its job: since then, traffic has flowed better and the number of accidents has also fallen sharply.
The most chaotic: Place Charles-de-Gaulle (Paris, France)
The roundabout around the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the Place Charles-de-Gaulle, proves that chaos can also arise with a very simple basic order. Here no less than twelve large streets meet in a star shape and, contrary to the usual rules, those entering have right of way. In addition, there are no markings in the roundabout with a diameter of 240 meters, but there are a lot of confusing jostling where the vehicles are regularly at right angles to each other. All of this together requires a lot of patience and nerves, especially inexperienced Paris travelers.
The deepest one: Eysturoyartunnilin (Faroe Islands)
This roundabout is truly underground: the tunnel, which only opened in December 2020, connects both the islands of Eysturoy and Streymoy as well as the western and eastern halves of Eysturoy - and therefore has not two, but unusual three entrances. The roundabout in Eysturoyartunnilin required for traffic distribution - please pronounce three times in a row without errors - is 72,6 meters below sea level. Overall, with a length of 11,2 kilometers, the tunnel is the largest structure in the Faroe Islands. With the opening of the tunnel, the travel time between the capital Tórshavn and the city of Runavík further north will be reduced from more than an hour to around 20 minutes. With the Vallaviktunnel in Norway there is another roundabout in a tunnel. However, it is above sea level.
The most angular: Circular Road / Maraval Road / Queen's Park East / Queen's Park West (Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago)
The capital of the Caribbean island state of Trinidad and Tobago also officially vied for the title of the longest roundabout in the world. In fact, the circular route around the centrally located park “Queen's Park Savannah”, which can be driven in only one direction, is almost 3,9 kilometers and is definitely longer than the official record holder in Putrajaya, Malaysia. However, this circle has five corners, each of which directs traffic at a 90-degree angle. So it's not a completely round thing, but unusual enough to be featured on this list.
The floating one: The Hovenring (Eindhoven, Netherlands)
Only for bicycles: In the Netherlands, transport planners traditionally attach great importance to the separation of non-motorized and motorized traffic. At an intersection between the cities of Eindhoven and Veldhoven, they have been letting bike traffic really take off since 2012: the cycle track with its four ramps is suspended from a total of 24 ropes that are held up by a 70-meter-high pylon. The engineers got the initial vibrations under control with special dampers. Today around 5.000 cyclists use the Hovenring every day, which is impressively illuminated in the dark.
The most controversial: the geyser of Monheim am Rhein (Germany)
There are days when nothing works at this roundabout that connects the Rhine promenade, Krischerstraße and Kapellenstraße. On purpose, because since 64 the traffic lights have always switched to red after 2020 hours of sunshine and a twelve-meter-high water fountain shoots from the center of the roundabout. The "Monheimer Geyser" was famous even before it was built. For some, the 600.000 euros for the construction and the maintenance costs of the work by artist Thomas Stricker were too high; others welcomed its uniqueness and saw it as a future symbol of the city. As a special service, the city even offers an outbreak forecast on the Internet.
The Most Political: State Circle (Canberra, Australia)
Some cities have pretty flowers planted in the roundabout, others put the seat of government of an entire continent there. In the Australian capital of Canberra, the State Circle road goes around the Parliament House on Capitol Hill, where the Senate and House of Representatives meet. Roundabout purists are now throwing in that this is not a roundabout in the narrower sense, as vehicles can travel in both directions. However, due to the exposed location and its importance, its mention is more than justified.
Of course, that wasn't the end of it!
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