‘Shared space’.

It’s a phrase we’ve all become familiar with over the last few months and is used to describe an area in which mutual regard between differing parties is supposed to result in a harmonious, respectful outcome.

Like sharing the duvet on a snowy February night.

Of course getting a cold back because the missus has stolen all the cover is somewhat less dramatic than the potential result of the pedestrian/motorist communities negotiating Regent Circus, but there is some similarity in the sentiment.

Now that the dust has settled (literally) and much of the development at the top of town has been completed, everyone has had the chance to make early evaluations regarding the wisdom of such a scheme.

I’m not aware of too many accidents that have actually taken place there yet, but to many this is no reason to complacently assume all will be well in the future.

But I spotted a picture in the Adver a couple of weeks ago which did give me food for thought regarding ‘shared spaces’ and the co-existence of pedestrians and traffic.

The photograph in question showed the Magic Roundabout on a Swindon Town matchday, and appeared in the weekly ‘Rewind’ feature. It was captioned as though the image was a present day representation, but something about the vehicles involved suggested mid-nineties to me.

But what was depicted was exactly what will be seen this coming Saturday, when supporters wend their way to and from the match, with caution but confidence, directly across the middle of the junction.

Now, to those unfamiliar with the Magic Roundabout the every thought of driving across it fills many with dread, and I speak as someone whose father had, what I believe may have been, the first car written off on it.

I’m of the opinion that any driver who struggles to grasp the concept of ‘give way to traffic approaching from the right’ should seriously question whether they should be driving at all.

But those people who allow terror to grip their hearts at the very sight of the MR would presumably have nightmares at the thought of actually walking across it.

Yet every other Saturday afternoon sees hundreds of people stroll across the Magic Roundabout through the very middle of the traffic, and I’ve yet to see or hear of anyone coming to any harm.

This, in an area that has no pretensions of being ‘shared’ at all.

This is an out-and-out, traffic-priority zone if ever there was one, but for five minutes immediately after the final whistle in particular, pedestrians and drivers alike occupy a comfortable coexistence without incident or accident.

In some respects it reminds me of the days when the Railway Works would kick out at the end of the day, and thousands of push bikes would flood into Rodbourne Road, bringing traffic to a standstill by their sheer weight of numbers.

And it got me thinking.

If the Magic Roundabout can be the unmitigated success that it is in the context of traffic flow, and also an apparently safe pedestrian haven… perhaps we should have had another one at Regent Circus.

Or at least start a debate about it.

It hardly seems any crazier an idea than the present situation, and can be based upon data collected over forty years to prove its pedestrian-friendly viability.