Lights are not so fantastic for keeping traffic moving

Ipswich port from the air in April 1964. This photograph was taken from ov

FOR FLASHBACK AUG 20 07. Ipswich port from the air in April 1964. This photograph was taken from over Landseer Road with Cliff Quay in the bottom left corner of the view. The wet dock on the right has now largely changed to a leisure area renamed The Waterfront. The gas works site was demolished in 1977 and is now the site of flats. The West Bank Terminal in now on the mud flats where the remains of Stoke Bathing Place were still standing when Tony Ray took this view. The huge engineering works of Ransomes and Rapier (centre left) also on the west bank has been replaced by smaller industrial units and housing. EADT 20/8/07

Lynne Mortimer compares the traffic in her home town to London and Saffron Walden.

As you might guess, I have been satisfying my wanderlust by visiting foreign parts.

First, I was in London to see the Pompeii exhibition at the British Museum and, having walked round the array of ancient artefacts (some of them quite rude) for an hour or more, I then walked to Oxford Street where my daughter and I spent two hours and no money and then, footsore, opted for a taxi to the restaurant.

“The Ivy, please,” we said to the driver... we were eating in the place next door but it sounded impressive, I thought.

Then came the slog through the London traffic. The lights changed to green, two buses went through. The lights changes to red. People sounded horns, delivery vans blocked lanes, and important looking cars pushed into the queues of traffic... The taxi driver was courteous to other road users while I was transfixed by the meter.

Two days later, I was in Saffron Walden, visiting family. On the road from the town centre to our destination, roadworks were installed across half the street. Automatically, I looked for the temporary traffic lights but there were none. This, again, was a case of courtesy. Drivers waved a “thank you” to each other in recognition of good road manners. On our return, about six hours later, the roadworks were finished and cleared away... this was Sunday, by the way. The strip of new tarmac stretched right across the road.

In Ipswich, road practices seem to fall somewhere between the two extremes. The new lights at the bottom of Civic Drive cause me angst. Should I get into the right lane to travel north into the town centre, thereby risking being trapped behind someone turning right, or should I take the lights in the left hand lane and then move over? (That is a rhetorical question, by the way).

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Is it my imagination or were roundabouts once considered the best way to keep traffic moving? (also rhetorical).

Meanwhile, driving back into Ipswich from the A14 on Sunday evening, I was so glad to see the familiar twin bulges of the double roundabout at the junction of Valley Road and Norwich Road. It may be quirky; it may be mind-boggling but at least it’s not another flipping traffic light. I had already been stopped by four.

Another word on the Ipswich lidos. Mike Welham emailed from Santa Rosa beach, Florida, to say: “I learnt to swim at Stoke Baths in 1946, having been advised that salt water was more buoyant,” and he asks: “Was Stoke ever classified as a Lido?”

The Stoke Bathing Place, home to Ipswich Swimming Club, was an open-air pool in a walled-off area of the River Orwell. The site is now part of the West Bank Terminal. Buoyancy apart, was it warmer, I wonder, than Broom Hill and Piper’s Vale... I don’t reckon that were.