Ever since I started this blog it seems much of what I write concerns Swindon’s road system.

So here I go again.

Once upon a time, if you mentioned you were from Swindon, you were sure of two responses. Firstly you’d be told it was a town full of roundabouts. Then reference would be made to the ‘mad’ roundabout arrangement near the football ground.

Now I was always ready to defend Swindon on both counts. First of all, roundabouts work extremely well in governing traffic flow. When compared with the alternative, traffic lights, no one ever needs to wait at all if there is no traffic with priority to make them.

And the best example of them all was the Magic Roundabout. As long as you obeyed the rule of giving way to traffic approaching from the right, everything worked perfectly. Those who didn’t understand such a basic principle shouldn’t be on the road, never mind complaining that it was too complicated.

But then a trend started that slowly destroyed both the effectiveness of the roundabout and also the reputation of the town.

Starting at the two motorway junctions it was decided to install lights to control the traffic entering the gyratory system. That completely negated the purpose of the roundabout, which should allow responsible drivers to make their own decisions about how they safely negotiated the junction.

Necessary as they may be at peak times to stop traffic backing up and unable to leave the M4, the lights should only operate part time, as and when required.

This situation then spread of course to Mannington, another bottle neck that existed only during certain hours of the day, and the decision to trial switching the lights off when they weren’t necessary resulted in people complaining that using a roundabout as it should be used was somehow dangerous and/or complicated.

The biggest example of the town planners selling its roundabout soul and heritage came with the construction of Thamesdown Drive. If ever there was a road crying out for six or eight roundabouts rather than the same number of sets of traffic lights, this was it.

Here in Sticksville we only have one set of traffic lights in the entire town, and that seems one too many.

Last Saturday coming back from a week in Norfolk I decided to go across country to avoid as much motorway travel as possible, and subsequently had the necessity to pass through Milton Keynes, often quoted as a rival for Swindon’s roundabout crown.

And passing through (around? It was difficult to tell which) MK was like old times in Swindon, with all the drivers knowing exactly what was expected of them and traffic flow generally regulating itself perfectly.

And on a further point, the whole experience made me reluctantly recognise that I would rather drive through Oxfordshire than use the M25. Not a particularly glowing recommendation for that county, but one I feel obliged to share.

Anyway, the recent announcement that Bruce Street Bridges roundabouts were to have a makeover grabbed my attention.

I remember when this was not so much a junction, as corner. The area was known by the tram terminus that had once been there, and which had signalled what was considered the furthest flung part of Swindon worthy of public transport.

No, I’m not old enough to remember the trams thank you.

A narrow, low, single brick bridge forced buses into the middle of the road as they avoided striking the parapet. Barnfield Road branching off Rodbourne Road led only to the council tip, and it was hardly worth a glance when it was crossed as a pedestrian.

Now so much traffic uses the junction that no fewer than four roundabouts aren’t considered capable of dealing with the chaos. So the proposal is to have just one. With traffic lights of course.

That seems a missed opportunity to me. With the addition of a couple more we could have had another Magic Roundabout there, and if they only lowered the railway line we could have stuck a level crossing in the middle of it as well!

Where’s the imagination? Let’s get this town back on the traffic map!