A118 - A406

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Where is it?

Junction diagramIlford, East London, where the North Circular Road meets the A118, a local road serving the endless suburbia.

It was nominated by Andy Carter.

What's wrong with it?

The A406 North Circular Road is, on its journey past Ilford, an entirely new road built in the 1980s, well-aligned with just a few spaced-out junctions. Here, in order to cross the Great Eastern Main Line railway and the River Roding, it runs on a viaduct, which makes it difficult to build a conventional junction with the A118 underneath.

The unconventional junction that exists instead does not work very well. The southern part thinks It Might Be A Roundabout, and from some angles, with appropriate make-up and flattering light, might be mistaken for one. But it's not a roundabout. It's a Not Quite A Roundabout. If you attempt to circulate around it you'll end up back at the traffic lights on the A118 under the viaduct. The entrance to the A406 northbound is positioned, counter to all expectations, on the inside of the curve. There's no approach to this junction that makes it obvious what's going on to the unfamiliar motorist.

An unconventional layout that isn't very obvious on the first attempt would be forgivable if it worked brilliantly, but sadly it doesn't. Approaching from the A406 sliproads, the view of approaching traffic coming around the Thing That Is Not A Roundabout is not very good and accidents caused by traffic pulling out when the road isn't clear are commonplace. Worst of all, the whole free-flowing, fast-moving This Isn't A Roundabout At All relies heavily on the traffic lights on the A118 to keep everything moving, and if a queue builds up at a red light, it stacks back around the corner, blocking the entry sliproads to the A406, which in turn causes queues back around to the traffic lights again, and soon the whole I Can't Believe It's Not A Roundabout is at a standstill.

If you visit in the rush hour, pack sandwiches. If you visit at any other time, bring your wits.

Why is it wrong?

What would be better?

The physical arrangement of this junction would be very hard to change now, given that large parts of it are on elevated viaducts. So one has to assume that it's not going to be substantially altered any time soon.

One thing that might help is to reconstruct the Don't Call Me A Roundabout so that traffic leaving the A406 and traffic joining it are segregated as much as possible. That would mean that, when queues start building up at the traffic lights with the A118, they don't block the path of traffic trying to get away from the lights and on to the A406. To do that might require a signalised crossover and a box junction where the southbound exit sliproad joins the Shh, If Anyone Asks, Don't Tell Them I'm A Roundabout, but it could be a worthwhile change (and it would also get rid of the problem where traffic coming off the A406 reaches a Give Way line and can't see what's coming very well).

That might be the best we can hope for unless someone can find that half a roundabout that was left over and a clean instruction leaflet.

Right to reply

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These are all the comments that have been made about this junction.

September 2015

An anonymous contributor writes:

Until drivers learn to use the lanes properly (as determined by the highway code) and further know how to drive properly (which it seems most of the users in and around the area are unable to accomplish) the entire junction is akin to the Wacky Races. At peak times you are busy making sure you are not hit from all sides by other vehicles. A simple solution would be to warn people to choose the correct lanes and stay in them. Or actually put the small bollards into the lanes, thereby compelling drivers to choose the correct lane.