The Sherbrook Road Anomaly

I've been learning to drive recently and one of my instructor's methods is to take his students along potential test routes and through particularly confusing road layouts. The other day he hit me with the most mind-boggling road layout I'd ever seen. You may need to know a little bit about British traffic law to get this; if you don't, I'll explain below.

Do you see the problem? Remember that in the UK we drive on the left.

This is Sherbrook Road in Nottingham, UK (running from below right to upper left) at the point where it meets Oxclose Lane, a dual carriageway crossing in the upper left corner. You can turn on the labels to see if you want.

We joined Sherbrook Road way at the other end of its length, down where it meets Mansfield Road to the east, and drove along it heading northwest.

At the end of the road my instructor, Pat, told me to turn right. I stayed in the left-hand lane and got up to the double dashed line where I stopped and waited for a gap. Pat stopped me there before I could do anything else, and backed the car up himself, so we could take a good look at the mistake I'd just made.

The triangular signs painted on the end of Sherbrook Road mean "Give Way". You are approaching an intersection. Traffic on the road that you are joining has priority, so you should stop at the double dashed line and give way to them before pulling out. Notice that there are two "Give Way" signs, one over each lane, and the double dashed line covers both lanes as well. Notice also that the left lane only allows you to turn left, while the right lane allows you to cross to the central reservation and thereby join traffic heading right.

In other words, this is a one-way exit from Sherbrook Road. There are "No Entry" signs at the end of it, and there are "No Left Turn" signs on Oxclose Lane which prevent traffic on Oxclose Lane from turning into Sherbrook Road. So, at this location, Sherbrook Road is a two-lane, one-way road. What I should have done is pulled over to the right-hand lane instead of staying in the left lane. In the left lane there would be no way for me to turn right.

Now look down and right to see the arrow painted on the street just a few car lengths further along. Here, Sherbrook Road is a two-way road, with a single lane in each direction. In fact, if you follow the map, you will see that Sherbrook Road is a two-way street all the way along its length. You can see this from the vehicles on Google Maps' satellite shots, the lane markings and the occasional arrows on the street. I had driven all the way along it, believing that it was a two-way street, which it was. There had been oncoming traffic in the other lane, even! Then, suddenly, only about twenty metres before the junction, without any warning signs, the road turns into a one-way street. One of its lanes reverses direction. It was because I failed to notice this that I had headed for the wrong exit.

Can you blame me?

I sat there for almost five minutes gibbering to myself while Pat explained that he brings all his pupils to the same place and they all get it wrong like I did. But can you blame them? When a road inexplicably changes direction without any warning?

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