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One Way

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1206493.  Thu Sep 29, 2016 7:42 am Reply with quote

Something I heard last night on Mark Steel's in Town: the one way system in Kingston-upon-Thames originally switched direction regularly. One day the person who designed this system forgot that he had switched the direction of traffic that day, looked the wrong way and got ran over and broke his legs.

1206498.  Thu Sep 29, 2016 8:02 am Reply with quote

I have been there a number of times over a number of years, but have no recollection of the one-way system ever changing. Any idea when this is supposed to have happened?

1206503.  Thu Sep 29, 2016 8:21 am Reply with quote

I worked in Kingston for a few years before we closed the old Hawker site and moved to Farnborough. The one way system was a pain then, but it never changed directions. Actually that's unfair - it wasn't a pain through it's design, but rather the fundamental problem was (and still is) that there aren't enough bridges across the river and that concentrates traffic into specific roads. I actually used to avoid the one-way system by driving in through Teddington and approaching the site from the North.

This article celebrates the 50th anniversary of the system but makes no mention of direction changes, and it also includes an original map that has fixed direction arrows. SO it sounds like it's something Mark made up or perhaps when Mark hasn't realised he was being wound up (not for the first time).


1206505.  Thu Sep 29, 2016 8:53 am Reply with quote

Oh well. Would have been quite interesting if it were true.

1206507.  Thu Sep 29, 2016 9:18 am Reply with quote

...and it still might be. I just can't find any supporting evidence, and I honestly can't remember a case where road priorities switch directions on different days of the week (the safety case would be a nightmare, never mind the signage).

I think one of the scandiwhatsit countries has long roads joinging the north to the south which are one-way - you go north on mondays, wednesdays and fridays, and south on tuesdays, thursdays and saturdays. I guess on Sundays you stay in bed and make babies or go to church! I can't remember where I read this, so it's possible I made it up. I do remember that in either Sweden or Finland that have a warning roadsign with some amazing compound word which translates as something like "Beware of the poor state of the roads during the winter thaw".


1206508.  Thu Sep 29, 2016 9:25 am Reply with quote

PDR wrote:
... I honestly can't remember a case where road priorities switch directions on different days of the week (the safety case would be a nightmare, never mind the signage).

Actually, I can! The Army and Navy flyover in Chelmsford changes direction based on the time of day. Good knows how there aren't more accidents, but it does seem to work.

1206509.  Thu Sep 29, 2016 9:29 am Reply with quote

Interesting - hadn't known about that one!


1206514.  Thu Sep 29, 2016 10:31 am Reply with quote

Courtesy of SABRE - The Society for All British and Irish Road Enthusiasts

Roads with tidal flow

A38(M) Birmingham The A38(M) Aston Expressway in Birmingham is the most famous example, being the only motorway with no physical barrier down the centre of the road: instead overhead signals show which lanes are open and closed, with one lane always closed to separate traffic heading in opposite directions.

Tamar Bridge A38 Plymouth Covers both the Tamar Bridge and Saltash Tunnel

A15 Lincoln, Canwick Road Tidal Flow

A470 Cardiff

A61 .The Queens Road Tidal Flow system on the A61 in Sheffield.

Former Tidal Flow Systems

A6 London Road, Manchester

A34 Upper Brook Street, Manchester

A102 Blackwall Tunnels, London The Blackwall Tunnel only ran tidal flow in the AM peak period. Tidal flow was implemented at the discretion of the police. It was only usually implemented between 0630 and 0900 hrs, and only ran for as long as it took to reduce the queuing on the south side - run it for too long and the southbound traffic would begin to back up. During the morning peak, tidal flow could be implemnted up to three times, for as little as 20 minutes at a time.

It was not possible to run tidal flow in the PM peak because this would involve running contraflow in the northbound tunnel. This is the original 1897 tunnel and has some particularly sharp bends in it - not suitable for two-way traffic. Tidal flow ceased to operate in April 2007 because of concerns about the number of collisions within the tunnel.

Also, the Albert Bridge in London until 1990.

A lot more than I thought.

1206556.  Thu Sep 29, 2016 1:44 pm Reply with quote

I remember the tidal flow in the Blackwall tunnel. I used to use it when it was in operation, then I got a different job and never really went down that way for a few years. When I started using it regularly again, I noticed there was no tidal flow and wondered why. Now I know.

I also remember having to swerve to avoid an oncoming car in my 7.5 ton lorry, twatting the NS mirror on the wall in the process. When I got back to the yard, my boss asked me what I had hit. He didn't seem too impressed when I told him "the Blackwall Tunnel"!

1206567.  Thu Sep 29, 2016 2:06 pm Reply with quote

PDR wrote:
I worked in Kingston for a few years before we closed the old Hawker site and moved to Farnborough.

Completely unrelated to the subject under discussion, but is this BAe?

If it is, you may know the former supervisor known about the forum as Nobhead.

Alexander Howard
1223936.  Tue Jan 31, 2017 6:14 pm Reply with quote

The novel junction built in the 1960s at the beginning of the Kingston Bypass, between Kingston upon Thames and Esher, was so bizarre and puzzling to motorists that it soon became known locally as "the Silly Isles". Eventually the Ministry of Transport accepted it, with a slight change of name.

Local nicknames also gave us the Magic Roundabout in various towns.

1224381.  Thu Feb 02, 2017 2:21 pm Reply with quote

The only weird Scandiavian part-time traffic rule I remember is "Datoparkering".

It was in use in Copenhagen in the seventies but seems to have fallen out of fashion. I remember parents doing mad dashes to move the car in time, so I can see why it isn't very popular.

1224391.  Thu Feb 02, 2017 2:52 pm Reply with quote

And a non-traffic use of main roads in the open country in Sweden:
A "vägbas" or "flygraka" is a straight stretch of road that can double as a (military) air strip. There is no signage, the road just goes wider and trees are kept well back.

For example this:,14.3779783,3442m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en-GB

They are no longer kept as ready-for-use as they were in the cold war era, but the basics are still there. Just requires a little weeding and removal of the light central barrier if there is one.


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