Modern roundabouts, 1960’s Basingstoke, and how road safety has improved

For the first time visitor to Basingstoke the fact would not go unnoticed that “there are just so many roundabouts in the town”. The astute observer could reasonable follow with the question, “why are there so many roundabouts in Basingstoke”.

Back in the early sixties Basingstoke had just two roundabouts, Venture roundabout and the Golden Lion roundabout.

Venture roundabout took its name from an early Basingstoke bus company – Venture limited who operated in the town from 1926 to 1950. The Golden Lion roundabout takes its name from the nearby pub.

Today there are amazingly in excess of forty two roundabouts in and around the town of Basingstoke.

Well, there have been several ideas banded around over the years, to explain why there are an abundance of roundabouts in Basingstoke, one rather fanciful but amusing, the other boringly logical.

The rather fanciful explanation

During the decade of Chubby Checker telling us to twist again and England winning the World cup Basingstoke planners were toiling over how to accommodate a massive influx of Londoners, known commonly as the “London overspill”.

Toiling and planning can very thirsty work involving the consumption many cups of tea. With a large scale map laid out on the planners table and the tea drinking going into the night, inevitably the Basingstoke map developed more tea stains and ring marks from the cups, than would be seen in Mr Munch café for a whole month.

Was this where, the idea was born to make Basingstoke the roundabout capital of the Country, and as a capital, Basingstoke should be regarded as a city, the very unofficial Doughnut City – Can we agree on this?

Tea drinking tales aside – The boringly logical explanation

When compared to an intersection, a roundabout is regarded as a safer option with benefits of increased traffic flow, as many as 2000 vehicles an hour can flow around a well planned roundabout. With flow reasonable constant and reduced stopping and starting of the vehicle, a town such as Basingstoke with an abundance of roundabouts makes for improved fuel economy compared to the same town with intersections at every junction.

On approach to a roundabout drivers are forced to reduce speed due to two significant aspects of the modern roundabout design, namely deflected entry and yield-at-entry. As apposed to drivers approaching a traffic light controlled intersection, the tendency is to accelerate sharply when presented with an amber light, in a bid to beat the red stop light. The tangential approach to an intersection also encourages a high speed entry as opposed the forced speed reduction encourage by the deflected entry aspect of the modern roundabout.

A further built in safety factor with the modern roundabout is removal of traffic turning right and crossing an intersection in perpendicular directions i.e. into on coming traffic. The roundabout is safer because entry and exit is carried out with a left turn.

 A brief history of the roundabout

It is believed the French architect; Eugene Henard invented the one-way circular intersection in 1877, although slow to catch on. It was not until 1966 that the adoption of the yield-at-entry regulation was introduced by the United Kingdom that roundabouts soon became a town planner’s first choice of junction type.

Benefits of a roundabout against an intersection


  • Fewer accidents
  • More efficient traffic flow
  • Fuel saving
  • Less wear on vehicle brake components

 In conclusion

Basingstoke is the roundabout capital of the world, well expressed by the nick name Doughnut City. The sixties town planners were on the ball. Is there any coincidence in the fact that yield-at-entry regulation was adopted the same year England won the world cup, 1966?

Since then the modern roundabout has sprung up in ever increasing numbers across the developed world, with France in 1983, Norway 1985, Switzerland in 1987 and America in 1990.

So there we have it, the modern roundabout revolution began in Basingstoke back in the 1960′s. Well done guys, the next round is on me. A round of Teas from Mr Munch, of course.

Post time: 04-12-2017