The Hangar Lane Gyratory has been given the dubious honour of being named Britain’s scariest road junction. In fact London claims 3 of the 4 top adrenalin-fuelled traffic experiences in the country, with Marble Arch and the Elephant and Castle coming 3rd and 4th on the list.
Londonist begs to differ, slightly. Hangar Lane is, admittedly, a teensy bit petrifying on the first or even second encounter, but once you understand what it is there for and where its various limbs are spiralling off to, it becomes a lot less intimidating. The road planners have complicated matters somewhat by pretending that there was reason to their original inspired madness: they drew meaningless white lines all over the roundabout which (if you adhere to them) are guaranteed to drive you insane or astray. The only way to tackle this shape-shifting goliath is to play it at its own game: shut your eyes (no, not literally – duh!) and charge in.
It also helps if you know where you are going. There is a general lack of this these days, Londonist has noticed. The flick of the Sat Nav seems to set the brain to stand-by mode, and so many drivers vroom mindlessly round our great city without the foggiest idea as to where they are or where they are going. A quick glimpse at an A-Z usually explains all (especially if it has one-way systems marked on it), and renders even the most fiendish gyratory comprehensible.
Anyway, Londonist reckons that London should capitalise on these man-made phenomena: offer tourists the ultimate traffic trial, and give them a certificate if they make it out the other side. The architecture of Hangar Lane could also be tarted up: hey, there is already (bizarrely) an hotel there. Having been described variously as a headache and an eyesore, this civil engineering folly could actually become a real attraction.
North Circular photo courtesy of Edwrd B’s flickr photo stream.