This post was first published by Croydon Advertiser on 26/03/2018.
15 things you need to be aware of when driving through Croydon
Read our list and you’ll never need to worry again.
It is no secret that driving through Croydon can be a nightmare, even at the best of times.
Confusing junctions, endless speed limit changes, and seemingly only one road that isn’t a bus lane, it seems about time someone made a list of things to look out for.
So get comfortable, put your seatbelt on, and prepare for a two-hour delay to your morning commute because of a traffic jam on Brighton Road. Here we go …
1. You’re probably in a bus lane
Particularly on your first trip to the centre of Croydon, the number of bus lanes can be a source of utter confusion.
It’s probably a good idea to visit Croydon at least seven or eight times on foot. Bring a pen and paper and make detailed notes, you’re going to need them.
My general tip is, if there’s a bus in front of and behind you, it’s time to panic.
2. Speed camera signs aren’t lying
Having grown up outside of Croydon, whenever you saw a speed camera sign in a more rural setting, there was probably a 12 per cent chance that there was actually a speed camera coming up.
In Croydon, however, it’s a very different story.
The moment you see a sign, you better slam on those brakes – not that you were speeding – because you better believe there’s a speed camera within the next 20 metres.
This is by no means a criticism, just a warning to any speed camera sceptics out there.
3. Most residential roads have 20mph limits
Yes, this is true.
However, we’ll forgive you for not believing us as no-one seems to be able to distinguish ’20’ from ’30’ anymore.
As my old driving instructor used to say: “It’s a limit, not a target”.
According to Croydon Council, the main aims of the introduction of a 20mph speed limit in an area are to:
- improve road safety
- discourage passing through traffic
- encourage walking and cycling
- improve the local environment
You may well not like it, but unfortunately these are the rules, so do try to stick to the limit. We don’t want anyone getting unnecessary speeding tickets!
4. Avoid Brighton Road in the morning
Anyone who regularly commutes into the borough should take note of this – give yourself an extra hour on top of the expected journey time, all because of one road.
It doesn’t matter how good your evasive driving skills are, you will get stuck on Brighton Road if you travel into Croydon in the morning.
Make sure any passengers bring sleeping bags and plenty of water, you never know when you’ll finally escape.
It’s almost worth thinking about leaving your car in a car park that bit further out from work and enjoying a pleasant stroll for the last bit of your journey. Almost.
5. You’ll need to remortgage your home to pay for parking
If you are paying on the day it costs £13.10 to park in an NCP car park for between four and 24 hours.
There is an early bird offer which is much cheaper but as we explained above just reaching the car park can be a mission so making it in time for that cut off won’t always be possible.
A bit of quick maths here – £13.10 a day means £65.50 a week, £262 a month, and £3,144 a year.
You could buy three and a half golden retriever puppies for that.
6. Watch out for the trams
Croydon’s trams are part of the landscape of the borough, and their tracks thread neatly throughout the town, helping all manner of folk travel around.
Therefore, please try not to drive on the tram tracks, it’s really quite annoying for everyone.
“Wow, this route is so clear!” you say to yourself.
Yes, that’s probably because you’re driving on a tram line, you idiot.
You’re letting yourself down, you’re letting your family down, but, most of all, you’re letting Croydon down.
7. One of the most dangerous junctions in London
I reckon most of you will be able to guess which junction this is.
The Lombard Roundabout has been named as one of the most dangerous junctions in London – news which probably won’t surprise motorists who use its countless entry and exit points frequently.
It is the only Croydon junction to be targeted as part of Transport for London’s Safer Junctions programme, meaning it will now be continually monitored and reviewed annually.
Arrangements to make the Lombard Roundabout safer have now been made within TfL’s business plan.
So, yeah, avoid if you can.
8. Prepare to go around the Fairfield Halls roundabout seven times
OK, maybe not seven, but at least six.
Lane discipline completely jumps out the window the moment anyone enters this roundabout. I have been cut up at least 14 times, and I’ve only driven round it once.
The markings in the lanes aren’t particularly clear either, which, added to the reckless merging, is a recipe for mild disaster.
The best thing to do is stick to your lane and hope, all you can do is try, and no-one will think any worse of you.
9. Be wary of Purley Way’s box junctions
A friend of mine was caught out by one of these. Yes, definitely a friend.
My “friend” misjudged how far ahead the car in front was going to keep going and, as a result, ended up with the rear of his car in a box junction.
You may be thinking: “But no-one ever checks that, your friend would have been fine.”
Wrong! As with the speed cameras, they’re always watching those box junctions, and they’re not afraid to fine you for it either.
10. The Little Bay “roundabout”
A roundabout is defined as “a road junction at which traffic moves in one direction round a central island to reach one of the roads converging on it”.
Or, if you’ve ever driven around the roundabout outside the Little Bay restaurant in South Croydon, it’s defined as “a road junction where you must risk your life because no-one cares about road laws”.
Top tip: drive AROUND the roundabout, the clue is in the name. Please try to avoid driving straight over it because it’s really rather dangerous and we don’t want anyone being put in danger due to your laziness.
11. Purley Way’s mood swings
When you see the “this will soon become a one lane road” sign, please be prepared to merge into one lane.
Yes, I know Purley Way is quite wide but, for some parts, it is only one lane. I promise.
Although I fully appreciate that it does go back to two lanes eventually, overtaking people when it is a single lane is an unwise choice.
12. If only there was a way to avoid Fiveways
Lights, speeds cameras, inaction. Not much moves at this intersection of major roads, and when it does it is not always clear where.
Even when the lights turn green, a driver unfamiliar with the junction will probably have a moment of panic and just stop in the middle of the junction, adding to the chaos.
There are an intimidating number of lane-crossing options, and you have to be pretty sure which of the five ways is for you.
The speed cameras stationed on roads near the junction probably have plenty of film left, as the average speed would seem to be a crawl through the tailbacks which build up at rush hour.
13. Succombs Hell
OK, Succombs Hill isn’t actually in Croydon’s boundaries but most people from the borough will have driven on it.
In Warlingham, it has to be one of the steepest hills in the world that it is actually possible to drive up.
To make matters worse, at its steepest point there’s suddenly a sharp bend. It’s the sort of place where cruel driving instructors must take learners if they want to crush any ambitions they harbour of ever passing their test.
Take it in anything higher than second gear and it’s going to end in tears.
14. Flyover nightmares
Dante wrote about the nine circles of Hell. He missed out the Old Town roundabout under Croydon Flyover.
This devilishly complicated maelstrom of motorists is enough to make any driver feel cursed, while simultaneously looking for their turn-off, and dodging other cars.
For every lucky driver who makes a correct turn, there are probably a dozen more trapped doing laps, searching desperately for a way out.
The speed some cars launch themselves around the roundabout adds to the madness and makes you feel as though you have accidentally driven into the Monaco Grand Prix.
15. Featherbed Lane is scary
For some idiotic drivers, this is the borough’s answer to Silverstone.
It should be a place of great joy as you leave the stresses of city life behind and head into the country.
But instead you’ll be on edge for fear that someone will suddenly appear heading towards you on your side of the road doing 70mph on one of its narrower sections.