THE Blackwall Tunnel, the Dartford Crossing, Loampit Vale... names to make any driver shudder. Rumour has it that when dad rocker Chris Rea wrote his smash hit Road To Hell, he had just driven through south east London and north Kent. Sections of road in this part of of the world seem custom-designed to get you out of your car and squeezing onto a Southeastern train, only to send you back to your car when your train is cancelled for no reason. Here we rundown 10 tarmac terrors.
9. Bexleyheath Broadway
Designers of the new broadway threw out not just the rule book but also the Highway Code. A brave vision of the future where roads and kerbsides merge into one and rights of way no longer exist it seems the people of Bexleyheath were not quite ready for this. It's a classic example of developers thinking outside the box when normal people are perfectly happy inside it. Shortly after it opened, the News Shopper post bag bulged like Greg Wallace's cheeks when presented with a particularly creamy dessert.
8. Western Way, Thamesmead (pic from Google Maps)
The road to Belmarsh and Woolwich Crown Court is paved with empty beer cans, the occasional car part and wrappers from the McDonalds meals eager young kids run out in front of cars to try and reach. To fully appreciate its horror you must walk from Plumstead station. The journey has made many a lawyer (or court reporter) question their career choice. A walk that seems to get longer the further you travel, with nothing to look at but a roaring main road on one side and a prison on the other, which you can just about see through the plastic bag-draped trees. Judges have been known to let defendants off prison, knowing the journey to court was punishment enough.
7. Bromley town centre
Want to get 'intu Bromley'? Why not try navigating this confusing one way system patrolled by boy racers with 90s drum'n'bass hangovers and angry van drivers, which really comes into its own when there are roadworks. Yes, road layouts in somewhere like Croydon town centre are worse than this, but only because it means you've deliberately driven to Croydon.
6. Erith fish roundabout
Why are the fish there? Why? You will ask yourself this repeatedly after encountering the fish, which watch over Erith like a trinity of divine beings. The amount of mental effort required to process seeing three giant multi-coloured fish embracing one another on a roundabout (inspired by the old council coat of arms) means you have less attention on the road ahead, making an accident far more likely. Maybe.
5. Yorkshire Grey roundabout, Eltham
The place wherefour areas collide, sometimes literally. Pity the poor learner driver who recently, while happily going about her business, was nearly crushed by a toppling truck. I once took a woman for a drive around this roundabout, broken glass glistening on its road surface in the summer sunshine. She never spoke to me again.
4. The Blackwall Tunnel, Greenwich
Perennially closed by drivers who try to ram a lorry through it, the congestion here is truly awe inspiring. Cars queue back for miles while residents in plush new peninsula buildings choke on the fumes. If this sounds like your idea of a good time, you'll be pleased to know Boris Johnson wants to double your fun with another tunnel, right next door.
3. Loampit Vale, Lewisham (pic from Google Maps)
A former colleague once described his strategy for this junction as "close your eyes and hope for the best". While we wouldn't recommend that, the fact that this roundabout is choked with buses and some of the most aggressive drivers in the western world, every hour of the day, could make you take desperate measures. Staggeringly ugly, this is also the first thing visitors to Lewisham see when they pull in on their delayed Southeastern train. Lovely.
2. The Dartford Crossing
Not so much a crossing as a permanently long traffic jam. People who use the crossing regularly relate tales about it with the air of your grandparents telling you about the Blitz. Yet, if you drive in this part of town, there is no escape from it. You'll just find yourself reliving the torture, morning after morning, night after night. Forever. Unless you move.
1. Fiveways, Eltham (pic from Google Maps)
Legendary blues singer Robert Johnson once claimed he met the devil at a crossroads. If you were ever to come face to face with Satan, chances are it would be here. Poor road markings and right turns which, in a brilliant piece of design, mean its impossible to see if any thing is coming the other way, make this the hairiest junction in south east London. Every time you successfully make it through you'll want to rush home and hug your family close, thanking the gods you're still alive. Add to it cars jumping out of the garage or Burger King and it's a miracle there's not an accident here every single minute of the day. There was even a plan to build a hotel here, turning the carnage into some kind of jaw-dropping tourist attraction.
Have we missed any? Leave your suggestions below.