Six And A Half Hours Later Than Planned

Today’s plan was reasonably simple. Head to Costco for lunch and a bit of shopping then head home and watch some TV. I expected to be back for about 16:00 [BST]. It initially went well. The lunch was bought and the stuff purchased, the car was filled and I went to leave the car park. Except I couldn’t because the road was busy. So I drove to the other exit thinking I’d go out by Ikea and head to the A13 and join the M25 there. But that way was blocked with traffic too. That was when I decided to look at my phone and see what Google maps was saying about the traffic.

It was fucked.

The maps app was reporting that the QE II bridge was closed. North and southbound. Bugger. I needed to use that to get back home. Alternatives exist but they are a pain and involve London.

Classic Dartford
Classic Dartford

Apparently two trucks had collided on the north side of the bridge. This meant both tunnel and bridge were closed. This meant the entire area because a car park. I decided to stop in the official car park I hadn’t left and leave the car and try and waste some time so I would start again when at least the traffic was moving a little.

I walked to Ikea, wandered around, found a few things to buy and then also went to the restaurant and ate some food. Periodically I would check twitter and maps to see if there was any movement. There was not.

I then thought it might be worth joining a queue again and maybe we would move a car’s length every minute or so, at least make some progress. So I drove to the Costco exit and joined a queue. The only times I moved forward was when a car not far ahead pulled a U-ey and we all move one car length. After an hour I turned around and parked in Costco again. To be honest I had made it about 50 m from the car park exit in that time so it wasn’t really like I had left!

A cuppa and toilet break in Costco and time to spend a little longer wasting time hoping that something would move soon. It wouldn’t.

Eventual Route
Eventual Route

While still trying to get out of Ikea and head directly north to the A13 it struck me it that heading south [the blue lines] and then heading east might work. The traffic seemed to be moving in those directions. Maybe I could then head north to the A127, rejoin the M25 or head into London.

Final Route - ish
Final Route – ish

The roads seemed reasonably clear. I got on the M25 anti-clockwise and I just kept following Google Maps. I headed down the M11, around the Olympic stadium in Stratford and then there were slight delays on the approach to the Blackwall Tunnel. After that there were no more delays. I think they had started to open the Dartford Tunnels at some point because the traffic seemed to be moving north at that point. The M25 was delayed and stopped from Dartford to about Stapelford Tawney, the delays were immense.

My overall thoughts are that I am glad no one was badly injured. Yes, it caused huge delays and would have cost a lot of money because of those delays, but hopefully everyone got home OK.

I got home around 22:30 [BST]. A little later than planned. I’m not annoyed. I almost enjoyed the adventure of it all. I had looked at cinema times but there were no suitable films, I had looked at booking into the Travelodge over the road but it was full, I had considered driving to my parents’ house but the issue was getting out of the car park!

The trucks had spilled fuel over the road and this meant it needed to be resurfaced. They also managed to crash just before the slip way for southbound traffic to enter the tunnel. Therefore there was no alternative to shutting the entire crossing.

Next time, for there will be another time, I will do my best to look at the roads heading in the opposite direction. Had I thought of that earlier I think I could have been home around 19:00 [BST]. Oh well.

It’s No Collapse

“Oh it all falls apart when it snows”

“An inch of snow and Britain can’t cope”.


Firstly: We’ve had plenty of warning that there was going to be snow. It wasn’t a surprise.

Secondly: People should have been prepared for the roads to become bad and for transport to be cancelled. BECAUSE WE HAD WARNING.

But, why doesn’t anything work when it snows?

Because you don’t spend LOADS of money on services that are going to sit idle for 360/365 days of the year. If you want everything to work “just fine” when there’s a lot of snow then bloody well pay for it. It will cost a lot of money. It just doesn’t make economical sense.

Hopefully, many services have plans for getting through the snow. Hospitals and emergency services are important and I somewhat suspect that they HAVE plans. Being forewarned about the snow means those plans can be enacted.

Simple really.

Hopefully, Everyone Is Safe

I know we moan about the weather all the time in this country. It’s what we do. It’s a way of forming conversation. Something we can talk about. We love headlines that ultimately just say:

Weather cold this winter.

Weather hot this summer.

Yesterday, after about a week or forecasting the snow came to the UK. It hit Maidstone at 18:00. The town ground to a slow crawl. It probably doubled the length of time for me to get home. But, I got home and there were no exciting events for me. Rather than the UK moan about:

Why aren’t we prepared for this? Why does everything go to shit when it snows, it doesn’t in Finland.

We need to accept that nowadays snow is a reasonably rare event, definitely in the south east. It’s a few days a year. We should EXPECT disruption and things to go to shit. It’s essentially a rare event.

Here’s the traffic from 18:30 last night:

A larger view of the SE.

Now on this map, apart from my favourite places, you can see the disruption. Here’s a larger view:

Lots of red roads which is indicative of severe disruption.

Now, the traffic an hour later:

And finally about 21:30.

Let’s hope everyone is safe.


Sometimes, It Happens

I’ve become quite philosophical about traffic jams. Rather than get annoyed and irritated I now realise there’s little I can do and so I relax. It is highly unlikely that I will lose lots of money through a traffic jam [being late for an appearance on Dragon’s Den maybe] and it is also rare that I have to be somewhere at a very particular time. As I work in education you might consider that I should be at work for the start of the day and normally I am there with plenty of time to get a coffee, do some photocopying and prioritise my emails.

This morning was a little different. Maidstone is updating and improving the bridges gyratory  in the centre of town. This means that occasionally they have to close the roads overnight so they can get the work done. This morning they failed to get the road cured on time and so there was a delay in opening Fairmeadow, possibly the most important through road in Maidstone.

This delay meant the two lane traffic was heading around the prison which is a single lane carriageway. Thus there ensued chaos. Well, not literal chaos but lots of cars going into not a lot of space and therefore lots of congestion.

It took me ninety five minutes to drive eight miles, the first four of those I covered in about ten minutes, the rest was Maidstone. I am happy to accept these delays as the improvements to the junctions will be worth it. Also, the extra time in the car gave me more time to listen to the Skepticrat podcast. Warning, there’s swearing a-plenty in this podcast and it’s political with a liberal bias. What else would you expect?

My general thoughts on traffic jams are that they normally mean someone is having a far worse day than you. Relax, there’s nothing you can do.

To give you an idea of the traffic chaos here’s a shot from Google maps:

A Bad Morning
A Bad Morning

I am going to find another map for you, possibly a larger version with a little more detail, but it would serve you well to see a version of a “normal” morning to compare, so I intend to do that also.

So, having said that here is a map of today, the next day, a day when the roads are working “normally”. Here you go, enjoy:

Maidstone Traffic
Maidstone Traffic

Not A Roundabout

I have a complaint. This own’t surprise anyone. I’m pretty sure most communications within this website are complaints or me moaning or ranting on about something reasonably inconsequential. I’ve a feeling most people will think I’m just a little bit over the top on this one. It IS a valid complaint though.

Feast your eyes on this:

This clearly looks like a roundabout just south of Rugby. Here is another view of the “roundabout” within Google Maps:


It looks like a roundabout doesn’t it? How about these signs [stolen from Google Street View], these clearly show a roundabout:





Here’s the thing. IT’S NOT A FUCKING ROUNDABOUT. A roundabout means you give way to traffic from the right as you approach. Look at the following picture:


The road markings CLEARLY show that traffic on the NOT ROUNDABOUT has to give way to traffic approaching the NOT ROUNDABOUT.

The first time I drove this I nearly hit cars. You see the signs and you subconsciously know what is going to happen. Except it doesn’t because it’s NOT A ROUNDABOUT.

I’ll be going for a run soon to rid myself of stress and anger. Don’t even get me started on Cameron saying this country has christian values, Tony Blair saying shit about the middle east or the pope calling for world peace while his establishment STILL covers up priests who fuck kids and hasn’t handed over information to the police so these bastards can be prosecuted.

And, calm [not really].

Bad Traffic

Not sure this counts as the worst traffic ever, but it does look pretty bad.


I think there must be a site out there with historic traffic data. Will search.

A Plea

Put quite simply and without much fanfare:

I would like the drivers in Kent to use their indicators on roundabouts.

The rest of this communication is me making my point but with an associated rant too. Feel free to skip it all. In fact I recommend you skip all the twaddle below.

The main routes I travel around mid-Kent have plenty of roundabouts and navigating these safely is quite a task. Many have lanes marked where most people don’t follow those lanes, in my opinion because the way the lanes are labelled makes it nigh on impossible to drive smoothly (The Running Horse roundabout is a prime example). Also, conversely, many roundabouts have sensible lanes marked and people don’t seem to understand the writing on the roads and why the car in the left lane might be turning right.

Here’s a guide and some specific rants:


 Roundabout A

A229 and M20 Eastbound interface. This is a curious one which has two lanes for turning right when leaving the M20 eastbound. There is a filter lane on the left to head towards Chatham. There have been plenty of occasions when drivers fail to notice the filter lane and stop at the roundabout waiting for there to be a space in the traffic. This is not the worst offence and actually understandable. You people are forgiven.

Roundabout C

The M20 and the A249 roundabout. My general impressions of this roundabout are that people cut lanes and don’t indicate or if they do it’s to address the problem of being in the wrong lane in the first place. Most of these offences seem to take place at rush hour and I guess people think they will save time by rushing and lane hopping. The issue is that you don’t really save time. You just increase your own stress, others’ stress and cause distress.

Roundabout D

This roundabout has been updated recently to make space for the Kent Institute of Medical Science or something similar. Generally this roundabout works well, however, I have noticed that some of the drivers coming from the Bearsted direction to travel towards the M20 (straight on) like to indicate right and then not cancel their indicator as they approach their turning. This is annoying.

Roundabout E

The not-quite J7 of the M20 roundabout. The road people recently wrote new lane instructions on the road here. They had to change the layout due to new roads and stuff on the A249 towards Maidstone. The new lane markings make excellent sense. It’s such a shame that many people who drive here seem unable to either read lane markings or actually drive and use indicators at the same time.

Roundabout F

This is not really a rant about the drivers on this roundabout although I have witnessed one crash here. The council or someone re-designed this roundabout about 5 years ago along with a new by-pass. The lanes don’t work as you have to swerve to make the correct lane as you travel around the circle. Also, when entering from Malling direction there is a ridge that bounces the car light as you travel over it. I first discovered the ridge when I was motorcycling, the rear went loose and I nearly lost control. It’s a very poor design.

Roundabout G

The M2 J3 roundabout. I would have to say that the general problem with this roundabout is, well, that’s interesting. I drew this onto the map but am not sure why. I know, let’s go for the general fact that it’s a roundabout and it’s in Kent, therefore people don’t understand the lanes or use their indicators.

Roundabout B

The Running Horse roundabout joining Penenden Heath to the A229 and the M20. Whoever designed the lanes on this roundabout never tried to drive them. The lanes do not follow a smooth arc around the traffic circle and in reality you have to swerve across lanes if you follow the road markings.
People do not indicate on this roundabout. This would improve matters. When they do indicate they seem to indicate to move off the roundabout one turn too early.
In the course of my time driving in these areas I would estimate (subject to confirmation bias) that I have seen 3 or 4 accidents here a year. And that’s just at the 5 or so minutes a day that wander here.

Trotting Badly

Suppose you are journeying from the A229 southbound to the M20 west bound. You would follow the route depicted above. What happens in reality is:

No indicators, no general lane control and head off to M20

This leaves all the drivers approaching from other routes not knowing where you are going and makes them wait whereas had some indication of travel been used the roundabout would flow much more smoothly.

What should happen is:

  • Start to indicate right at A and be in the right hand lane
  • At B start to move to the left and get ready to indicate left as you come level with Forstal Road
  • Exit the roundabout at D using either lane

Those who do use their indicators seem to start indicating left at point C which should mean that they are going down Forstal Road but this is not what happens most of the time.

This roundabout is dangerous. The lane markings on the road itself do not make for smooth progress around the traffic circle. People using the roundabout don’t use their indicators because they are clueless and people use the wrong approach lanes because it will save them a few seconds. Oh, I guess I should also state that people are generally twats and don’t think about their driving and how it affects others’ they just exist in their own cosy little warm world of their car.

I have decided that I shall not rant about driving any more on this website (I might tweet about it now and then) but it is not important enough to warrant my time. Oh, that and the fact that people don’t really read this stuff.