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Different solutions, same problems.

Consider turning across traffic - left turns here, right turns in Ripon. In Ripon the cars stop in the middle of the road and wait to turn. Continuing traffic dodges by on the passenger side of the road. There are plenty of junctions like that in Spain too but a different, and very common, solution is to move the car into a sort of lay by on the passenger side of the road. This effectively takes the car off the road where it waits for a suitable gap before making the dash across traffic. It's an elegant solution and it works really well on quiet but fast country roads. The difficulty is that the lay bys only usually have space for two or three cars. Use this solution in heavy traffic and the tail back from the lay by stretches into the road and causes traffic to have to move to the driver's side of the road, sometimes into the face of oncoming traffic!

Then there're the crossroads that use a variation on this system. Imagine a roundabout with one of the major carriageways cutting across the centre of the roundabout. To make the turn across traffic you can either make the direct turn or you can cross the continuous carriageway into the half circle, do the half loop, and wait there to make your turn. There have to be traffic lights in busy areas for this system to work at all. The lights limit the space for queing. The result is cars pointing in every direction waiting for lights to change. As soon as the green shows the traffic that has been stranded and the traffic waiting their first attempt to negotiate the junction both get the opportunity to move. The ensuing meleé is a treat to drive in.

My favourite though is the on and off motorway junction. Picture a three lane motorway. Where the incoming slip road joins the motorway a fourth lane is added for a while. The fourth lane runs parallel to the motorway and ends at the off slip. So traffic moving on to the motorway fights for space on the fourth lane with traffic turning off the motorway. 120kph dodgem cars with vehicles necessarily cutting each other up in order to gain the safety of their continuing carriageway.

The endless variety of bizarre systems is a pleasure to behold.

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