Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Junctions that just don't function

April and May are the season of awards. We've just had the BAFTAs, sports clubs are dishing out the annual gongs and the Classical Brits are just round the corner.

What better time, then, to start our own awards scheme? Not for artistic achievement, not for sporting endeavour, not for just being Jose Carreras, but (drum roll and fanfare...) for Bath's Most Ridiculous Road Junctions.

The awards, sponsored by personal injury solicitors Ambulance, Chaser and Compo, will be held in the prestigious venue of Twerton Railway Arches in late May. These are the nominations and our predictions for success. Or otherwise.

Turning left onto Charles Street from Midland Bridge Road. You sit there waiting for the filter light to turn green. And so it does. "Great," you think. But you can't go forward because both lanes in front of you are blocked by traffic still waiting for the next set of lights to turn green. We say: frustrating, but hardly dangerous enough to win.

Turning right from the Lower Bristol Road into Brougham Hayes. Filter light? Forget it. You wait and you wait for a gap in the steady stream of artics thundering from the south coast to Bristol via Britain's only World Heritage City. "Never mind," you think in that optimistic way of yours. "Soon they'll get a red light and I can go". But just as the westbound traffic stops, you get a red light too and are stranded in the middle of the junction, your retail therapy in Oldfield Park a distant dream. We say: Frustrating and downright dangerous. You end up hopping the lights as they turn from amber to red.

Turning right from the London Road into Morrison's car park. Enough has been said about this particular nightmare to fill The Bath Chronicle seven times over. It doesn't help that the traffic coming in the other direction is merging from two lanes to one, with the private vehicles in the outside lane blissfully unaware of the buses, bikes and taxis on their left. It doesn't help either that you only have about 10 seconds to shoot forward before the filter light goes back to red, and that 25 other drivers in the queue behind you have the same idea. We say: Go by river.

The bottom of Gay Street where it meets Queen Square. You're on foot this time. How do you get from one side of the diagonal pedestrian crossing to the other? The green man stays green for exactly six seconds (timing subject to confirmation by the International Olympic Committee) and then you're stranded. You need the reflexes of a mongoose and legs like steel springs to stand any chance of getting across. We say: Bring your trainers.

The roundabout at the bottom of the Wells Road.You're back in your car, coming down the hill and intending to go straight across, over the river. At the bottom of the World's Most Pointless Bus Lane (Official) the left lane has an arrow pointing left for Bristol, and the right lane has a forked arrow pointing straight ahead for "Local" and right for the A36 and points east. So you obey the arrow and get in the right-hand lane.

Just before the bridge there's a confusing forked arrow in the left-hand lane, and as you go under the railway you find yourself pointing eastwards and forced to cut in to the left lane, which is already full of traffic off the Lower Bristol Road whose last concern is to let you in. (Thanks to Bubba, a contributor to thisisbath, for this one.) We say: Get on the bus, Gus.

All you have to do now is vote. Call 087654 JUNCTION followed by the number of your choice. Calls received after the deadline of last Wednesday will be charged double and the votes discarded. You have been warned.

Some day, all this will be my Bath Chronicle Column

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