Now I’ve spoken about the town of Twickenham before. There’s a pleasant bit between the river and Church St containing the oldest houses and some dinky shops, restaurants and the famous Eel Pie pub. But the rest of the town and its main thoroughfares is pretty nondescript and dreary. What makes it worse is that the traffic flow system through the town feels like it’s been designed not by an expert in traffic management but by Homer Simpson. It is a lesson in dumb thinking.
The key roads into/out of the town are like two Y’s joined at the single stem. It is a relatively simple and classic system which ought to be easily regulated but the reality is that you cannot enter the town from one of the 4 main arteries and leave via one of the opposite two without passing anything between 4-6 sets of traffic lights and being held by at least 2-3 of them for several minutes at a time. The result is almost permanent traffic log-jam from 7am to 7pm. It often takes 15 minutes or more to travel around 400 metres. That’s an average speed through the town of around 1mph or about a quarter as fast as walking. Crawling on your belly would probably be quicker.
And in case you think I’m stretching the truth about how bonkers the traffic system is, take another look at the picture above. This is a road scene just behind the main thoroughfare leading into one of the town’s car parks. Notice anything a bit odd? Well in this part of Twickenham as you’ll see from the signs and the road markings, we drive on the right hand side of the road. Oh yes. Presumably it’s to make the rugby fans from France and Italy feel at home when their sides are playing at Twickers or perhaps to make Homer feel like he’s driving through good ole Springfield, USA. But it does come as a bit of a surprise to the unaccustomed homeland visitor. Unbelievable but true.
I’m working on a personal design overhaul of the traffic system because I can’t believe it’s not possible to come up with a more elegant solution. I’ll let you know when I’ve done it. Meantime can anyone suggest any other towns where traffic planning must have been awarded to the Council Chief’s favourite abstract expressionist artist? A small bottle of our very own olive oil, picked by my very own gnarled hands, if you can top the Twickenham experience.